5. I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Zooey Deschanel
Whether you love or hate Zooey Deschanel, you can’t argue that she has a unique singing voice. Sometimes reminiscent of the late Billie Holiday, her style harks back to an older era. This version is somewhat folksy but her melancholic tone remains faithful to the Bing Crosby original. Her addition to the Elf soundtrack further synonymises her vocals with the yuletide period, making it seem as if it’s already a classic. If you like this, check out her band’s A Very She & Him Christmas.
4. We Found Each Other In the Dark – City and Colour
I’m not sure if this is even a Christmas song, but the tambourine intro always struck me as festive, like the distant sounds of a sleigh ride. The opening mention of church bells is like a vulnerable echo, setting the scene for a cold wintry night. Dallas Green’s soothing voice lulls you into a half-asleep daze that is both gloomy and comforting. A perfect ode to holiday romance that doesn’t involve mistletoe, stockings, presents or the incessant use of the word ‘baby’. (I’m looking at you, Mariah Carey.)
3. Christmas In the Room – Sufjan Stevens
If you haven’t yet tapped into Sufjan Steven’s impressive Christmas catalogue, you’re missing out. He has a myriad of seasonal ditties such as this one that eschew the traditional themes of Christmas pop favourites. In this particular one, he denounces the trials of the holiday period such as commercialism, travel and bad weather. It’s a cosy love song that focuses on the real meaning of Christmas; sitting on the couch, singing and laughing. If that sounds like your cup of tea, I’d avoid the supposed sequel song: Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)
2. Joseph, Better You than Me – The Killers
The Killers have released a Christmas single for the Product Red campaign every year since 2006, donating all proceeds to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. While the songs don’t quite scale the heights of Hot Fuss, some of them are pretty decent. And at least they’re not re-flogging a dead horse like Bob Geldof. Their 2008 offering is my favourite; a spin on the typical nativity tale by focusing solely on the struggles of Joseph the carpenter. The accompanying vocals of Elton John and Neil Tennant give the song a classic feel, earning it some well overdue radio play.
1. Winter Song – Ingrid Michaelson & Sara Bareilles
Ahh, winter. It’s actually worth all the ice-scraping, toe-freezing, chapped-lip misery of the season just to hear this song again. I would take this gossamer duet over Shakin’ Stevens any day. The combination of piano and violin is simple yet hauntingly beautiful and the crescendo of harmonies between Bareilles and Michaelson is a thing of beauty. The lack of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer gives the lament some longevity, making it bearable throughout the frosty months. Fast forward to March where I’ll still be wrapped in a duvet bleating ‘bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum…’