Yes, I’m Jewish. Yes, I celebrate Hanukkah. Isn’t eight nights of a December (sometimes November) holiday enough?
No. No it is not.
I love Christmas. This does not mean I love Hanukkah any less. I mean latkas done right are the greatest (I’m a fan of crispy over thick), eight nights of presents rock (even when one of them is ALWAYS underpants—thanks, Mom), and playing dreidel was my first taste of the highs and lows of gambling.
But back to Christmas. Do I love/believe all (or any of) the religious aspects of the holiday? No. I mean cool if you do. But that’s not what I’m here for. Otherwise I’m here for SO many aspects of Christmas. The treats, the tree, the music, the capitalism. I’m down for all of it. This month, leading up to Christmas, I’m going to share with you all the things I love about xmas (including calling it “xmas”). Join me, won’t you? L’chaim.
Everyone has a freaking Christmas album. Miley Cyrus, Sia, Johnny Cash, etc. Everyone has a Christmas album. To get into the spirit of the season as I write I go to Spotify and they have a whole section just for Christmas music. They call it “Happy Holidays” but who are they kidding when it’s color coded green and red. I feel like it’s probably the easiest album to put together – you sing a bunch of old Christmas song covers and maybe have one original song on there. Expectations are low for that original song too; we can’t all be Mariah Carey (if we could the world would be a much more interesting place… or at least more glittery). Basically listeners want to hear their favorite singers belting out all the Christmas tunes they know and love. I mostly enjoy them all, but I do have three favorites for this season.
Kasey Musgraves A Very Kasey Christmas
Even for those not into country music (I’ll save my treatise on country music for another time), Kasey is just plain awesome. She’s known for the folksy, liberal country slanted songs “Merry Go Round” and “Follow Your Arrow” and she’s good buddies with Willie Nelson. I mean if she’s good enough for Willie… So good in fact that they collaborate on an original Christmas song on her album called “A Willie Nice Christmas.” She sings mostly the old-school Christmas classics, including “Rudolph” and “Feliz Navidad,” but her voice is just so twangy, charming that the stale, timeworn songs seem fresh again. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvXpkH-gl3Q)
Leslie Odom Jr. Simply Christmas
This man was built to sing you into a dream state on Christmas Eve. His voice is melting butter and it’s worth every calorie. Tony award winner Odom Jr. is best known for his Aaron Burr in that little known musical Hamilton but he’s gone on to make a solo self titled album and this delicious Christmas album. He’s certainly not reinventing the sleigh here but it doesn’t matter because if Hamilton tickets aren’t in your stocking this year, his silky voice will provide a small comfort. He’s the vocal equivalent of a cashmere blanket. I mean the man posted on YouTube one of his Christmas songs over a Yule log. He’s basically sexy Santa with how good he is at gift giving.
She & Him A Very She & Him Christmas and Christmas Party
So nice they did it twice. No matter how you may feel about mixie pixie adorkable poster child Zooey Deschanel, She and M.Ward are a really good duo and have the holiday album on lock for the indie set. Deschanel’s perky tone and M.Ward’s bluesy sound blend perfectly together in a musical Christmas cocktail. Their song choices sway towards the Xmas standards but they have a lot of fun and personality. On Party they mix it up a bit by bringing in such indie rock darlings as Jenny Lewis and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth to join in the merriment. They’re so perfectly twee for the holidays they even made a video for Christmas Party about a tree that comes to life.