When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Sadly, the answer is not “never.” I am always counting down the days until Christmas, even in the blistering heat of summer, but I restrict myself from listening to carols throughout the rest of the year. That way, once the season is finally here, I am able to appreciate it that much more.
For me, the holiday season begins on Nov. 1, despite Los Angeles refusing to acknowledge this important change in seasons. Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Fall begins to fade into winter, and sweater weather means not sweating through cozy sweatshirts in 90º heat. Waiting until Thanksgiving is over to begin spreading holiday cheer is nonsensical. By the time it’s Black Friday, you’re already behind on your Christmas shopping, and you have less than a month to fill with hundreds of holiday tunes.
KOST 103.5 agrees with me; they stop playing soft rock within the first week of November and only play holiday music until the new year. However, listening to their tailored playlist of 40 or so Christmas songs non-stop can get old pretty quickly. They definitely play some necessary standards, such as “Last Christmas” by Wham! and “Step into Christmas” by Elton John, but I personally prefer playing my own Christmas playlist — free of ads and repetition.
There are hundreds of great original carols and covers to explore that easily get lost in the December whirlwind if you restrict yourself to one source of Christmas music. Some people stick to the classics — Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Carpenters — while others prefer “Glee” renditions and Train’s “Christmas in Tahoe,” an indie take on the season. Though the 382 Christmas songs in my Apple Music library are diverse in style, my personal favorite has been and always will be the King of Christmas, Michael Bublé.
His 2011 album “Christmas” features 16 songs you won’t want to miss. Between his upbeat take on “Jingle Bells” and his modern original Christmas carol, “Cold December Night,” there is surely something for everyone. Add a couple hits from the “Polar Express” soundtrack, some “Motown Christmas” and songs from Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped in Red” album, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great soundtrack for the most wonderful time of the year.
Grinches insist that all Christmas music is the same, but there are so many ways to sing “White Christmas” and so many different subgenres of carols. While Colbie Caillat and Sara Bareilles’s contributions to “Winter Songs” are perfect for a day spent cuddled up by fire, “The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album” is great to set the mood for a California Christmas. Pink Martini’s “Joy to the World” album suits the ambience of a cocktail party, while Neon Trees’ “Wish List” will be played on repeat when it’s time for dessert. Christmas music is not simply black and white or red and green; it doesn’t fit neatly into “pop,” “jazz,” or “rock.” There is surely something for everyone, but sometimes you have to look a little harder for the hidden treasures.
Nov. 1 is finally here, and I jitter with excitement to explore new Christmas songs as well as to get back into the routine of listening to songs I’ve forgotten about over the past eleven months. “Holiday” is not merely a genre of music or a word to describe a 24-hour period in December; it is a feeling provoked by listening to carols of your personal preference while rockin’ around a half-decorated tree in furry slippers and a Santa hat.
Feel inspired to listen to Christmas music? Find Dorrit’s Apple Music playlist here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/christmas/idpl.u-b3b8MBNCyLMgmK8