Listen to This: Christmas 2014

I know very little about music. While friends share playlists of the latest indie acts, my knowledge can be summed up in three categories: show tunes, John Mayer and Christmas music.

It’s easy to give me a hard time about any one of those, I understand. Who’s still a John Mayer fan? You willingly listen to show tunes? Don’t you get sick of the same holiday songs over and over again?




winter lights bw

Now that we’ve got that cleared up.

It’s become a tradition of mine to create a new holiday playlist each year. And each year, I worry I’m not going to be able to find the right songs for a solid list. I’ve already selected all my favorites, I figure. How will I find even more options to string together for a cheery, timely mix?

Enter Spotify. For a girl who starts listening to holiday music in October, Spotify is a godsend. Just this year, I’ve discovered Contemporary Christmas (Gloria Estefan and Wham! and Sting and Sheryl Crow); Folksy Christmas (Fleet Foxes and The Civil Wars and Joni Mitchell); Holiday Romance (Colbie Caillat and Eartha Kitt and She & Him) and Christmas Magic (The Chipmunks and John Denver and The Muppets).

Toss in a couple new album releases (Indina Menzel. Seth MacFarlane.), and suddenly I had more songs for this year’s playlist than I knew what to do with. Keeping it to just an hour or so of music – so it’s actually enjoyable, not just a never-ending slog of every song I heard all season – became a balancing act as I weighed how much I enjoyed the song, how much I figure you might enjoy the song and how the song fits in with all the other songs I’d already selected.

Creating this annual playlist is a lot like programming an annual film festival, now that I think about it.

But I digress…

This year’s mix was all about discovering new takes on old favorites. Seth MacFarlane’s holiday album is unexpectedly lovely, and his “The Christmas Song” is nearly as enduring as Nat King Cole’s. What other playlist has Johnny Cash in the same list as Mika and Tracy Chapman? There are standards like “O Holy Night,” originals like Leona Lewis’s “One More Sleep” (I dare you to get that one out of your head after a couple plays!) and a few tracks that nod to the promise of a new year.

I love this whole process. I love spending my days at work with holiday music in my ears; I love listening for hours and hours of holiday music and noticing each time which songs I notice, which ones I sing along or bob my head to. And most of all, I love sharing it with you. Enjoy, and happiest of the season to you and yours!

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