By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
Note to musicians: Adding jingle bells to your song doesn’t make it a Christmas song. It makes it a song with jingle bells.
Christmas songwriting must be a challenge: your song must be original, heartfelt and cheery, not insincere and cheesy.
There are a slew of great holiday songs out there – quite a few from Tupelo’s hometown boy himself, in fact – but here are a host of newer songs that will make your holiday playlist extra snazzy.
“Holiday Face,” Dent May – Taylor’s own makes Christmas a synthy affair, as he asks us to “put on your holiday face.”
“Right Beside You,” The Embrace – Tupelo indie rock band The Embrace’s “Right Beside You” is really more of a winter song than a Christmas song, but it’s pretty nonetheless. The band’s take on “O Holy Night” is a keeper as well.
Top 40 picks
“Christmas in Harlem,” Kanye West – The rapper must be trying to get on Santa’s Nice List with this gorgeous ode to the holidays.
“Christmas Lights,” Coldplay – I don’t recommend Coldplay often, but this song’s not half-bad. It starts out with the sadness of a holiday heartbreak, but it ends in finding Christmas lights at the end of the tunnel. The violin-playing Elvises in the video make it that much better.
If you love the show “Glee,” check out the cast’s Christmas album, full of songs off the show’s holiday episode. Darren Criss and Chris Colfer’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is absolutely perfect.
Amazon is offering 25 Days of Free.
Each day until Christmas, Amazon is giving away one free holiday/winter themed-song.
So far the selections range from the religious (Abandoned Kansas’ “O Come, All Ye Faithful”) to the rock ‘n’ roll (Superchunk’s “Winter Games”).
Target.com is offering a free holiday album, “Christmas Gig,” many of which have been featured in Target ads. Go to Target.com and search for “Christmas Gig.”
Here are some prime cuts from that album.
“Toy Jackpot,” Blackalicious – Remember when you were 5 and couldn’t wait to tear open your gifts? In case you don’t, this song will remind you.
“Get Down for the Holidays,” Jenny O. – Jenny’s voice has an elf-like quality, making this song pretty much perfect.
“10,000 Watts,” Crystal Antlers – A little Christmas cheer for the punk in all of us.
For the Harry Potter fan in all of us, check out wizard rock, or wrock – bands who create music based on the Potter universe. The-Leaky-Cauldron.org offers a Christmas wrock charity album, “Jingle Spells,” each year, and they’re available on iTunes.
Check out stand-out tracks like “The Twelve Days of Wizard Christmas” by Gred and Forge, “Christmas with My Mom and Dad” by Draco and the Malfoys and “Xmas Rulez, Voldemort Droolz,” by Harry and the Potters.