Festive music can be a divisive topic … for some, it’s a sign of the most stressful time of year being ushered in, usually way too early for one’s liking. But for others, the sounds of sleigh bells get the excitement started as “the most wonderful time of the year” draws closer.
As Kinderling Kids Radio’s musical programmer, I’m a sucker for Christmas tunes. On the radio we celebrate the festive season with our usual flare for finding fun, family-friendly music from all kinds of genres and eras.
Here are seven tracks we can’t wait to put to air this holiday season.
1. Elvis Presley – 'Here Comes Santa Claus' (1957)
To kick off, a trip back to arguably the golden era of Christmas music. Many of the festive hits we know and love today come from the ‘40s and ‘50s, when The Rat Pack, Louis Armstrong and Eartha Kitt were in full voice. I couldn’t go past The King doing his thing on Gene Autry’s 1947 hit ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’, from the all-time highest-selling Christmas album in the US, Elvis’ Christmas Album.
2. Vince Guaraldi Trio - 'Christmas Time Is Here' (1965)
Jazz has a special place at Christmas for me. One of the few traditions my family has is to set up the Christmas tree at my parents' house listening to Aussie jazz legend James Morrison's Christmas album, This Is Christmas. While the fanfare of a fully charged jazz group excites, it’s the softer side of jazz I really associate with Christmas, perfectly accompanying the post-dinner slumber. The adorable 'Christmas Time Is Here', written by Vince Guaraldi for a Charlie Brown Christmas Special in the ‘60s really captures the feeling perfectly, with warm piano chords sitting under the cute kids' choir.
3. Kurtis Blow – 'Christmas Rappin’ (1979)
We’ll take any excuse to play old-school rap on Kinderling. Thankfully this fun track from hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow is one of the few kid-friendly tracks we can play from the era. Kurtis raps “Bout a red-suited dude with a friendly attitude” over a classic beat. Fun fact, this was the first hip hop track released by a major label!
4. Peter Combe – 'Happy Christmas To You' (1990)
Peter Combe has few peers in the Australian children’s music world (well, few who don’t wear skivvies). His eccentric style resonates with adults and children alike, with stacks of songs familiar to families across the nation. Another notch on his belt is successfully ingraining a new, original Christmas song into Australian popular culture, with 1990’s ‘Happy Christmas To You’ (and to you and to you) a firm part of the family Christmas canon.
5. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – 'White Christmas' (2015)
Swing into the holiday season with all the energy on offer from Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, with their take on the usually subdued ‘White Christmas.’ Released a year before she tragically passed away, It’s A Holiday Soul Party is one of the best end-to-end Christmas albums of recent times, and on ‘White Christmas’, Jones delivers a vocal performance to rival Ms. Carey’s in that other Christmas song. If you like soul but not Christmas music, then maybe, just maybe, this album could change your mind.
6. She & Him - 'Run Run Rudolph' (2016)
We love indie music at Kinderling, and it doesn't get much more indie than Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward's project, She & Him. In 2016 they put out a pretty adorable Christmas album, with plenty of chilled tunes perfect for late nights in front of the Christmas tree, but it’s one of the more upbeat tracks on the album that I like the most. Recorded by the great Chuck Berry in the ‘50s and used in classic Christmas movies like Home Alone, ‘Run Run Rudolph’ is one of my favourite festive songs, and She & Him’s version hits the spot.
7. Sia – 'Santa’s Coming For Us' (2017)
Finally, onto some pop. Globe-conquering Aussie superstar Sia popped out a Christmas album last year and, no surprises, it was jammed full of catchy pop tunes. Opening track ‘Santa’s Coming For Us’ has all the key elements to a modern Christmas pop classic, and is accompanied by a video featuring Princess Anna from Frozen, Lucas Sinclair from Stranger Things and The Fonz!
This article originally appeared on Tiger Tribe.
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