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13 New Songs To Add To Your Holiday Playlist From Kacey Musgraves, Jacquees, The Flaming Lips & More
Before we enter into the next decade, we have to get through the holidays. Whether you're one of the many people responsible for streaming Mariah Carey's 1994 classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You" to the top of the charts this month or you've trying your best to avoid the sound of jingle bells at all costs, the holiday season can create a whirlwind of emotions.
But one thing's clear: we can all use a big dose of festive cheer. Thanks to a rich, diverse selection of new holiday songs and albums from Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, Jacquees, The Flaming Lips, Los Lobos, Macklemore and many others, it's the perfect time to get cozy and pump up the sounds of peace and joy.
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"Glittery," Kacey Musgraves ft. Troye Sivan
If Mariah Carey is the reigning queen of Christmas music, Kacey Musgraves is definitely the princess. Back in 2016, the GRAMMY-winning alt-country star released A Very Kacey Christmas, featuring both original and classic tracks and toured with it. This year, she added brand-new shimmer to the album with an Amazon Prime special, "The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show."
The show was filled with special guests, including Aussie pop star Troye Sivan, who joined her to sing "Glittery," a new, original holiday song about a lover that makes you feel like a beautiful snow globe. The special also spawned a live album, meaning you can tune into this track and the rest of the fun moments anytime. Musgraves is truly a better-dressed, modern Santa.
"Christmas Tree Farm," Taylor Swift
The Swifties had a great year, as GRAMMY winner Taylor Swift released her currently GRAMMY-nominated seventh studio album, Lover. As if the LP and the singles and videos that led up to it weren't enough, the pop star gave her fans another gift just in time for the holidays, a new song called "Christmas Tree Farm."
Her lyrics are filled with nostalgia for the farm she grew up on and the simpler times of childhood, as they dance over the classic, bright holiday song melodies. The music video even features cute footage from the Swift family's home videos.
"It's Christmas Time," Macklemore Ft. Dan Caplen
Like Swift, GRAMMY-winning rapper Macklemore is also feeling a similar childhood nostalgia on his new track, "It's Christmas Time," featuring rising U.K. soul singer Dan Caplen. The cheerful song is paired with a cute, festive music video, in which the kids drink eggnog out of one of the Seattle artist's golden gramophones (which he won three of with Ryan Lewis back at the 56th GRAMMY Awards).
"Every year around Christmas time I think to myself 'Just do it Ben. Make the song. You can be the new Mariah Carey.' Well, this year I finally am," Macklemore joked on Twitter.
"7 O'Clock News / Silent Night," Phoebe Bridgers Ft. Fiona Apple and Matt Berninger
Tuning into the news in 2019 can be surreal and overwhelming. Apparently this was not so different in 1966, when GRAMMY-winning folk heroes Simon And Garfunkel released "7 O'Clock News / Silent Night," featuring a recording of the current news over their singing of the Christmas classic.
While technically not an original song like the rest on this list, Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple and The National's Matt Beringer update the heart-wrenching song for our current reality, offering 100 percent of its proceeds to Planned Parenthood. Berninger plays the newscaster in this version, reading headlines about gun violence and anti-abortion legislation. The important, haunting song is part on the compilation album co-created by Berninger, 7-Inches for Planned Parenthood, which, of course, benefits the nonprofit organization.
"Miss You This Christmas," Letters to Cleo
"The days get short, the nights are really cold. / This year Christmas ain't the same / I'm not used to stringing lights alone, I miss you this Christmas," Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo sings on "Miss You This Christmas," from their new EP, OK Christmas. It is one of the two original songs on the Boston alt-rockers guitar-slicked holiday album, which also features two fun covers.
"Hanukkah in '96," Alex Frankel
In addition to all the new Christmas-themed music that dropped this season, Hanukkah+, a fun, star-studded compilation album, brought—finally!—a whole new batch of Hanukkah-themed bops. Frankel, a "Hebrew school dropout" and half of New York electro duo Holy Ghost!, contributes the synth-y, nostalgic "Hanukkah in '96." He says the fun new song is "the greatest Jewish song ever written (in a major key)."
"Sing It Now, Sing It Somehow," The Flaming Lips
Also a new track featured on Hanukkah+, The Flaming Lips' "Sing It Now, Sing It Somehow," is gorgeous, haunting and ecstatic, all at once. The producer of the album, GRAMMY-winning music supervisor Randall Poster said, "Seeing the Flaming Lips is like going to temple—if they had unicorns and body glitter as sacraments. So, I thought their spiritual connection would be relevant to celebration, contemplation and the spirit of the holiday." Amen.
"Christmas and You," Los Lobos
GRAMMY-winning Los Angeles rock greats Los Lobos recently released their first holiday album, Llegó Navidad, four decades into their illustrious musical career. Along with reimaginings of under-sung holiday classics "Feliz Navidad," "Dónde Está Santa Claus," "It's Christmas Time In Texas" and more, the album also offers a heartfelt original song, "Christmas and You."
As NPR's Michael Martin explained, "It is a classic Los Lobos operation—a lovingly curated collection of songs from across North, Central and South America with, of course, an original song that makes you want to cry."
"Alabaster," Andrew Bird
Like Los Lobos, current GRAMMY nominee Andrew Bird has dropped his first holiday album several decades into his career (his first album came out in 1996). The indie folk-rock violinist's new EP, Hark!, follows his aptly-titled, GRAMMY nominated LP, My Finest Work Yet. The six-track surprise project is very much an Andrew Bird Christmas album, filled with his trademark whistling, melancholic lyrics and a mellow, lo-fi "White Christmas" cover. One of the original tracks, "Alabaster," feels both like a church hymn and a local pub's winter closing song, in the best way possible.
Of the project, the "Olympians" singer said, "A lot of folks have a hard time with the holidays but they serve a purpose to us as a people—to create comfort, warmth and atmosphere within the darkness and the cold that can crush one's spirit. There are a couple originals in here that address this idea of light and warmth in the darkness as well as some classics that have some nostalgic resonance with me. Hark! What sounds come flowing alabaster?"
"Christmas Party," Jacquees
The self-appointed "King Of R&B" Jacquees serves up a sexy dose of holiday spirit with his latest project and sophomore studio album, Christmas In Decatur. The nine-track LP of original holiday music, labeled as "HOTTTTT" by Hot New Hip Hop, arrived just one month after King Of R&B. The new album, whose title is a nod to his Georgia hometown, opens with the bubbling "Christmas Party," and also includes the amazingly NSFW "Like Santa Claus," ending on a celebratory high note with "Happy Holidays."
"Tell your people Happy Holidays (Happy Holidays). / We're so blessed to see these better days. / Oh, what a year it's been / All the up's and down's … / It's a New Year, baby, so glad that we made it out / all drinks on me, uh (all drinks on me)," Jacquees soulfully sings on the last track.
"Jolly Liver," Beach Slang
"I want beer!" James Alex of Philly rock outfit Beach Slang repeatedly growls over the chorus of their new rock 'n roll bah-humbug track, "Jolly Liver." Alex, who penned the song, closes it out with the amazing lines: "A-well-a-well-a, ho, ho, ho / and a-all that junk. / There ain't no halo hangin' 'round this dump. / I meant to be a saint. I ended up a drunk."
The new, rocking holiday-inspired song, released earlier this month, came along with the news that the band's next album, The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City, is due out Jan. 10.
"Not Another Christmas Song," blink-182
Apparently not one to follow their own advice, pop-punk group blink-182 follows 2001's "Won't Be Home For Christmas" with 2019's "Not Another Christmas Song." The new Christmas song has Mark Hoppus singing, "I'm burned out like lights on a tree. / Old songs, can't listen to these. / Fake a smile but all I can see is empty boxes and trees. / Another year not a coffin / Growing up or whatever you call it."
"Christmas Techno Dance," Klaus Blatter
This year, Santa was generous, as there are actually more new holiday songs than we can include on this list. We'll go out with the bizarre, hilarious holiday club track, "Christmas Techno Dance" by German comedic dance outfit act Klaus Blatter. It's paired with an equally wacky music video, for which the YouTube description explains, "The Christmas Techno Dance video is basically a summarized updating of the Bible with all the boring elements of the story removed… If you wish to enter the kingdom of god all you are for needing is this video and single of Klaus Blatter. The story is told!"
From the Recording Academy family to you and yours, please have a safe, joyful, music-filled holiday!