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Ah, Christmas music. There’s truly no better way to get into the festive spirit as we enter the holiday season. Though we all know and love the classics, some might find the identical echoes of radio stations and department stores to be a bit repetitive as the season progresses (to put it mildly). It’s important that we’re able to maintain that sense of holiday cheer that the season’s traditional music brings us, so it may be a good idea to seek out some festive songs that won’t make us want to gouge our eyes out—anyways, it’s always fun to discover new music. There might just be a few lesser-known Christmas tunes hiding in the depths of our various streaming services that you’d enjoy; I’ve done some digging and compiled a list of some of my current favorite indie Christmas songs!

A Living Room Christmas by Lunar Vacation

Being an avid fan of Lunar Vacation, I was excited to hear they were releasing a three-track holiday EP entitled A Living Room Christmas. Soft and sweet as always, this EP consists of Lunar Vacation’s gentle renditions of “Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)” originally released by Norah Jones, ”Skating” from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and “Last Christmas” by Wham.

“Christmas Treat” by Julian Casablancas

In my opinion, Julian Casablancas, one of the most important artists to hit the music scene within the 21st century, brings us a super fun and upbeat tune about the anticipation leading up to Christmas, accompanied by the classic rings of Christmas bells. Fun fact, this song is Casablancas’ rendition of the SNL skit, I Wish It Was Christmas Today!

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by The Beths

The Beths’ lovely rendition of this Christmas classic kicks off pretty traditionally: slow, soft melodies backed by layered vocals and accompanied by a simple rhythmic guitar, gentle drum beats, and sweet violins. The song picks up about halfway through when it is spiced by a toned electric guitar break that adds a modern-rock edge while still maintaining that timeless Christmas charm.

Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch by Tyler, the Creator

Definitely less traditional, Tyler’s Christmas EP is a super fun and funky collection of festive songs. Tyler obviously draws inspiration from classic Christmas songs, as clearly stated in the EP’s title, while also adding his own modern twists and engaging with his signature sounds.

“The Christmas Waltz” by Laufey

When I listen to Laufey’s “The Christmas Waltz,” I am immediately transported to my childhood living room, feeling the warmth from the fireplace while watching snowflakes fall from the sky outside the big bay window. This song is just so comforting and cozy, and the children’s choir that jumps in for the last chorus echoes sentiments of those classic Christmas songs we hold so dear.

“Last Christmas on Planet Earth” by Palma Violets

Spunky and cynical, Palma Violets’ “Last Christmas on Planet Earth” juxtaposes its fun, upbeat, Christmas-like melodies with dark and sardonic lyrics about death. It’s entirely satirical, so don’t feel too bad about having a blast while listening to this one.

“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by Ramones

Drama on the holidays—we’ve all been there. Fun and energetic, Ramones’ Christmas rock song details the usual dreading and wishing to avoid holiday drama as the season is supposed to be a time of love and joy.

Conclusion

I took the liberty of putting all of these recommendations (and a few extras) into one playlist with an added surprise… for the next seven days, this playlist is collaborative (through this article), which means you can add some of your favorite indie or lesser-known Christmas songs as well! Please feel free to share your own recommendations with me and others, as I know there are plenty of great hidden-gem Christmas tunes out there that I would love to hear!

Ava Reilly

U Conn '24

Ava is a junior English major at the University of Connecticut. She loves getting creative, spending time outdoors, watching movies, and listening to music!