Soliciting suggestions for Indi’s alternative holiday playlist – 2018

The day after Halloween means two things to me: bulk candy on sale cheap at the grocery store, and the start of the Christmas music season. One of those things may be bad for my health, and it may not be the one you think.

It’s become a bit of a tradition that every year I make an alternative holiday playlist: a list of songs that are seasonal and festive, but not religious, and not the same old overplayed crap you’ll hear a million times in the coming weeks.

This year should have been the fifth year of the tradition, but unfortunately the original list was lost during one of those devastating hacks that destroyed Canadian Atheist a few years back. That first list had only 42 songs. Last year’s had 100.

Every year I try to make the list at least a little different, to keep it fresh for people who listen to it year after year, while also keeping a few standards around so that newcomers won’t miss out of them. After last year’s list, I got over 60 new song suggestions – over three hours of music to listen to. So this year’s list is going to be new and fresh once again.

For those new to the list, here’s a brief overview:

Holiday time can be a difficult time of year to be a music lover, because during December and much of November, the airwaves, the malls, the downtown area – the entire sonic environment – becomes flooded with holiday music. That shouldn’t be so bad… except that “holiday music” mostly consists of the same dozen or so songs from the 1940s and 1950s or their remakes, plus a very small catalogue of modern songs.

But it doesn’t need to be that way! There are a lot of excellent holiday songs out there that you’ll probably never hear, due to them being crowded out by the standard pap. The goal of my alternative holiday music playlist is to shine the spotlight on other holiday songs. The main requirement to make this list is simply to be “interesting”, and “different”.

Here are some other criteria I use:

Seasonal
What would be the point of this if there wasn’t a focus on seasonal songs? If you just want a list of “interesting songs”, you can get that pretty much anywhere. I use very loose criteria for “seasonal”; if the song mentions any of the holidays this time of year, or even just things like winter, it counts.
Alternative
Preferably, the song should sound distinctly different from the standard holiday fare, as much as possible while still retaining a “seasonal” flavour. Because “standard” holiday music is typically crafted to match the sounds of 1940s/1950s pop music, that usually means songs that sound more modern, or songs from other genres. That generally rules out simple parodies. It also rules out songs that otherwise fit all the criteria on the list, but that are widely overplayed.
Secular
A single mention of God or Jesus isn’t too distracting, but if it’s a key theme of the song, it can be really annoying to nonreligious ears.
Canadian
This is Canadian Atheist, so it’s only natural that the list should be oriented toward Canadians. That not only means extra weight for Canadian acts, it means that I was leaning toward songs that reflect the Canadian experience of this time of year.
Enjoyable
The bottom line, really, is that the song has to be good, meaning that – if you’re into the song’s genre – it’s a song you could listen to any time, not just when the holidays are on.

I also try to choose only a single song per artist (for a very loose definition of “artist”, because of the complexity that comes with collaborations and band lineup changes). And each song can appear only once – no remakes or alternate versions.

I also have to be able to link to a freely-available version of the song online, so you can actually listen to it. I prefer official sources, where possible.

The 2018 list is going to be published in early December. Today, I am asking for suggestions to add to the list. Not all suggestions will make the list – some may be put off until next year’s list – but please do try to keep the criteria above in mind.

Here is last year’s list:

Here are some downloadable playlist files of last year’s list:

Note: These playlist files are just lists of links. That means that in order to play them, you not only have to use a supported player, you have to be connected to the Internet. It also means that the songs will not play if the site is down, the song has been removed, or it has been prevented from playing for one reason or another.

As I mentioned above, there are already 60+ songs already suggested for this year’s list. Here they are:

Do you have any additional songs to suggest? I’m particularly interested in songs that are Canadian, atheist, or both (this being Canadian Atheist and all). Leave a comment with your suggestions!

4 thoughts on “Soliciting suggestions for Indi’s alternative holiday playlist – 2018

  1. Indi, I love this idea. Thanks for curating such a great list.

    I’m a big fan of South Park’s Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics. Unfortunately Trey and Matt are not Canadian, but are kindred spirits, I think.

    To suggest two favorites with cheeky and uplifting secular themes, I’d vote for Dead Dead Dead (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUFfeTjuPeg) or Swiss Colony Beef Log (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0dpQlKdJgY).

    Happy Solstice!

  2. Shatner Claus! – Just saw this announcement. Gotta be some gems on this album for your playlist:

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/william-shatner-release-christmas-album-shatner-claus-1145806

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