Why bother with new music this time of year when the old (and old) classics are here? Some people have surely released new music two weeks before the end of this year, but it’s time to listen to that later. Here are some bangers that pair perfectly with the Yule log and a piping hot toddy, from our black hearts to yours.
Well, yes, because me too: Gayla Peevey, “I want a hippo for Christmas” – Of the two old Christmas songs that haunt my dreams, Gayla Peevey’s brooding demand for a hippo in an overly tight cardigan is the one that always wins the day. (The other, Lou Monte’s “Dominique the donkey” marks all of my persistent anxiety attacks and therefore is not eligible.) The tune shares the same playful quality as Monte’s Italian-American Christmas classic, which is reminiscent of a child walking down the stairs of his house, walking up and shouting this tune in at around 6:45 am on Christmas morning – a beautiful sight, and one that Peevey explains in the song. Coincidence! Really, however, that the sight of a hippo with a bow on its head sitting under a Christmas tree is so wonderful to me that this song makes me smile. A little quibble: the narrator’s mother says hippos are vegetarians, and I think we all know they’re not. Other than that, this song still bangs. Give me a hippo, old troll, and leave me alone! –Megan reynolds
Merry Yesmas: Toni Braxton, “The Christmas Song” – Basically, no one should remake Nat King Cole’s classic “The Christmas Song” (especially not Xtina!). But remaking Christmas carols is what people do and for my money the covers of that song are no better than Toni Braxton’s smoky jazz club riff on “The Christmas Song”. This first appeared on the 1993 compilation A Christmas with the LaFace family (which had the distinction of highlighting Usher’s debut recording of “This Christmas” as well as OutKast’s very first release, “Player’s Ball”), meaning that Braxton recorded this early in his career. . Her voice is sumptuous, her mastery is superhuman, the layout is classy, the emotion is palpable. I never understood why this hadn’t become a radio staple, but it’s a hit again every year on my playlist. —Rich Juzwiak
WHEWWW, yes: Ariana Grande, “December” – There is the sexy slink of “Santa Baby”, and then there is that of Ariana Grande Christmas + Chill, who lives on a whole different planet of sex appeal. Although it was released in 2015, “December” sounds more modern than ever, almost like someone is remixing the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, ” handed Ari her bunny ears and said, “Do your thing, honey.” Best line in the whole song? “Merry Christmas I’m a boy / I’m a present and you know it I’m a boy.” God loves this little mermaid. Thanks for making Santa Claus sexy again. —Emily Leibert
No: Justin Bieber, “mistletoe” – Despite the bloody murder cries at a Justin Bieber concert in 2016, I recommend you skip this little song, in which a pre-M.. Hailey baldwin says he wants to be under the “shawty, with you” mistletoe. He’s a little Jason Mraz and in the video he’s crisp and looks like a Disney idol with a bowl cut, pre-tattoos. Well, maybe you can listen to it on one condition: only play it in the presence of college kids. Otherwise, find something better, you have taste, I know it. —EL
She knew for sure: Pentatonix, “Mary Did You Know? ” – Although this song is more Christian than Christmas, it still slams louder than the donkey that gave birth to the baby Jesus in the manger. PTX offers my favorite take on this classic because, as always, they have the tightest harmonies that coalesce to give us modern-day Gregorian chant vibes and that’s absolutely my thing. – Shannon Melero