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The Modern Christmas Songs You’ve Been Looking For

Because you probably need a respite from gloomy Obamacare news . . . 

Putting Together My Christmas-Party Mix Tape

Over in the Corner, Shannen Coffin offers his worst Christmas songs.

To end the week on a cheerier note, let’s try to find some of the good modern Christmas songs. In response to the Jolt section on the post-war boom in good Christmas carols, some folks argued that there were no good modern Christmas songs or carols, and I’d pretty adamantly disagree. Given all the musicians, singers, and bands that have existed since, say, 1960, some of them were inevitably destined to write, compose, or perform a memorably good song for the season.

High atop my list would be Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Since it dates from 1965, I can see some folks might dispute whether this is “modern.” I’d nominate the instrumental version of “Christmastime Is Here” as the best of the album, catching the mood of watching the first snowfall of the year through a window.

Ottmar Leibert’s “Christmas + Santa Fe” album: Because you find all of your best flamenco guitarists in Germany, right? Each song on this album begins with a bit of modern original melody, shifts into a classic Christmas song, and then shifts back again. Here’s “Deck the Halls.”

Has “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” ever irked you a bit? I don’t mean the melody so much the story, depicted in both song and the stop-motion-animation special. The other reindeer are a bunch of jerks; after being ostracized for his appearance, Rudolph proves himself not merely some sort of genetic mutant but in fact a uniquely gifted creature single-handedly capable of saving Christmas; and “then all the reindeer loved him.” Well, no kidding. They had better love him.

So I like the verse Jack Johnson added:

Well Rudolph he didn’t go for that

He said, “I see through your silly games

How could you look me in the face

When only yesterday you called me names?”

Well all of the other reindeers man,

Well they sure did feel ashamed,

“Rudolph you know we’re sorry,

We’re truly gonna try to change.”

Rob Thomas’s “Merry New York Christmas” isn’t the greatest Christmas song of all time, but it ranks as an enjoyable original song, from a modern pop star, that isn’t syrupy or overdone to show off vocal range. (Mariah Carey, we’re looking in your direction.) It’s one of those songs you find yourself humming hours later.

Since this morning’s Jolt, some readers have submitted their own modern favorites. Kurt Schlichter submits “Fairytale of New York,” by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl:

Continuing the “New York” theme, Scot submits “New York is a Christmas Kind of Town”:

Moving up the coast a bit to Boston, both Matt and Neil offer the Dropkick Murphys’ “The Season’s Upon Us”. I like the theme of loving an extended family, nuttiness, aggravation and all, and it’s a funny video, with a few moments of off-color humor:

Juanito Carbone offers Anton Barbeau’s “Xmas Song”:

Finally, one I can’t believe I forgot: “Baby Please Come Home for Christmas,” an increasingly ubiquitous tune as the years go by. Here’s U2’s version:

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