Rocks Off polled our staff for their favorite Christmas songs to create a playlist for you to enjoy while you open presents, drink egg nog, or however else you celebrate. Enjoy.
Editor's Pick: U2, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)":
Neph Basedow: Pedro the Lion, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"
Since I'm having trouble choosing just one song from John Williams' Home Alone soundtrack (yes, in all seriousness), I'd have to say Pedro the Lion's cover of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is the next best thing to getting "scammed by a kindergartener." It's easily the most unobtrusive holiday song, with minimal piano and sleigh bell accompaniment to Pedro front man David Bazan's lulling voice.
Marc Brubaker: Sufjan Stevens, "Come On, Let's Boogey To the Elf Dance""
At the Brubaker household, decades-old, tired Christmas CDs are prevalent - lounge jazz covers of carols and hymns, Diana Krall, string arrangements, etc. In teenage years, my brother and I used to hijack the stereo, dropping on a Tooth & Nail Happy Christmas compilation to repel the boredom - but this didn't go over that well with our parents, and we've since grown out of them.
Nowadays, I'll stick to dropping on Sufjan Steven's array of Christmas EP's, which my mom simply refers to as "strange." This boppy, bouncing tune conveys that quintessential Christmas joy, the infectious sort that would bring a smile to even the face of the staunchest Scrooge or Grinch.
Craig Hlavaty: Hayes Carll, "Grateful For Christmas"
I heard this song right around the time in late 2008 when I discovered his Trouble In Mind and became obsessed with his lyrics. This holiday tune echoed so much of my own Christmas experiences at home, just like most of Carll's musical themes. The dead grandpa, the crazy grandma, the father taking the reins and leading the prayer for the first time...
Jef With One F: No Doubt, "Oi to the World"
When it comes to exactly what song sums up the true spirit of Christmas for me, I gotta go with "Oi to the World." And yes, I like the No Doubt cover better than the Vandals original version. Sue me. Seriously, what other Christmas song has nunchuks in it? None.
Plus, the video has Gwen Stefani bouncing around back when she was still doing the half California-ska, half-Indian look. What I like the best though is simply that it's a song about setting aside violence and hatred for one day in the name of the holiday season. True we should all try harder to do that the other days of the year as well, but sometimes you settle for what you can get.
John Seaborn Gray: Various Artists, "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Whitney Houston's version
My favorite Christmas carol of all time has to be "Do You Hear What I Hear?", written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962, during the thirteen days that made up the Cuban missile crisis. This accounts for the song's tendency to return again and again to the concept of praying for peace, and according to its creators, neither of them could make it all the way through it for a while without becoming emotional.
It's a stirring, slow build of a song with a melody that's both haunting and beautiful, firing the imagination to picture the wonder and awe of any single human being when faced with a religious revelation. It's a song of peace and hope, and as such, has been sung and re-sung by dozens of recording artists in the past 48 years.
The most famous version is Bing Crosby's, but other excellent versions come from Sufjan Stevens, Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan, Copeland, The Carpenters, the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra, and the original performers, the Harry Simeone Chorale. I have a really hard time choosing a favorite version, so go find your own.
Matthew Keever: George Strait, "When It's Christmas Time in Texas"
Shea Serrano: "Jingle Bell Rock"
Billy Idol's version
Oh, Jesus. I don't think I've ever been particularly enthralled by any one Christmas song. When I was in 7th grade, I was singled out to play "Silent Night" on a recorder in front of my music class by the knock-kneed music teacher that I'm almost certain hated me. Ever since then, I guess I've been partial to that one. But my sons right now are crazy for "Jingle Bell Rock," so I hear that one all goddam day. I guess that song wins by default.
Brittanie Shey: Pretenders, "2,000 Miles"/ Wham, "Last Christmas"
I hate Christmas music, but if I were tied over a BBQ spit I'd have to say "2,000 Miles" or "Last Christmas" by Wham!. Don't front.
William Michael Smith: Willie Nelson, "Pretty Paper"
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.