Hip holiday hits

Six oft-forgotten, Mariah Carey-free holiday classics to get you excited on your trip home for winter break.

By Marek Makowski | Dec. 3, 2013

Tags: Holiday gift guide Music

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“Last Christmas” — Wham!

The best way to start your playlist is to work into it slowly. And the best way to work into it slowly is to close your eyes and surrender yourself to George Michael’s cozy whispers. “Last Christmas” sets the intimate tone for your holiday and promises it will be better than your last.

“Feliz Navidad” — José Feliciano

The Puerto Rican speeds up your playlist with the title track of his holiday album. Finals are over and you’re going home, so it’s time to loosen up with this pop classic. Plus, you’ve probably already been forced to sit through a foreign language class for credit, so you might as well put some of that Spanish to use.

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” — Jackson 5

This can’t be a legitimate playlist without a song from The Jackson 5 Christmas Album. The famed quintet warps you back to a time when Santa was real with its soul-friendly harmonies. If you don’t like Christmas music, give this song a chance. Michael Jackson’s adorable lead vocals will pull you in.

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — John Lennon

Lennon, the famed peace activist who petitioned war through song, teams up with the frail-voiced Yoko Ono for a song including a chorus of 30 children singing background vocals. It builds as it goes, cheering for peace and hope. Lennon wrote it because he was tired of customary Christmas music, so if you are, too, this will be a good fit.

“Sleigh Ride” — The Ronettes

As great as the original orchestral version of the song is, its cover by The Ronettes is better. The chick trio enlivens the song, accompanying familiar jingling with vocal melodies and a stout chorus. There are many covers of “Sleigh Ride,” but stick with this one. You don’t want to punish yourself with Fun.’s version. Trust me.

“Christmas Wrapping” — The Waitresses

The strange punk band wrote the fast-paced song to fill its spot on its label’s seasonal album in ’81. The title is a play on words; Patty Donahue sings so quickly she nearly raps. And there are trumpet solos. Trumpet solos! Save it for the end of the playlist. By the time you’re done dancing to it, you’ll be home already.

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