Eight songs to jam to this holiday season that aren’t Christmas carols

Take a break from traditional music of the season with these tracks

Now that the turkey is gone and family members have been hugged farewell, it’s time for the Christmas season to begin. For those who have been listening to holiday music since the end of Halloween, department stores and radio stations are finally catching up, and it’s truly magical. For others, it’s time to stock up on milk and bread so that they don’t have to be subject to Walmart’s speakers at all during December. Whether you’re sick of Christmas carols or can’t get enough of them, we’ve got eight suggestions for you to either listen to in place of traditional holiday music or to add onto your never-ending mega-playlist for the season.

As you peruse the playlist, listen to it via our Spotify playlist below.

1) “Money” by The Drums

Nothing quite sums up the holiday season experience for a broke college student than the lyrics “I want to buy you something, but I don’t have any money.” Jam to this indie pop song as you figure out how to get through a gift-giving time of year with your current account balance. Alternatively, play it loudly as an apologetic measure to friends and family members as you explain that if you had enough money to eat something besides Easy Mac, you definitely would’ve gotten them more than a card.

2) “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes

This song is a staple of any carol-free winter playlist, and for good reason. Fleet Foxes’ brand of folk is perfect to sip a peppermint hot chocolate to while snuggled up in a warm blanket. Fleet Foxes uses winter-inspired lyrics like “swaddled in their coats” and “the white snow” to help tell a story, while acoustic guitars and deep bass drums create an atmospheric sound throughout.

3) “This Year” by The Mountain Goats

As final exams inch closer, there’s nothing like a good motivational anthem. If there’s a fitting phrase for anyone struggling near the end of December yet determined to succeed, it’s “I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me.” Put this mantra to music with this indie rock track. Side note: The Mountain Goats, who started making music in the ’90s, released this song in 2005, and the band is still making music — so they did make it through that year, if that makes it any more inspirational.

4) “Winter Winds” by Mumford & Sons

Combine the feeling of a newfound love with the setting of a cold, snowy London, and the result is this uplifting track by Mumford & Sons. The band asks “Was it love or fear of the cold that led us through the night?” at the opening, and the lyrics continue to discuss the indecisive nature of the budding romance. If love songs aren’t quite your thing, the joyful trumpet solo might make it up for you.

5) “Christmas In the Room” by Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens’ five-disc Christmas collection is an interesting spectacle, and a nearly three-hour one at that. “Christmas In the Room” is one of the highlights of the collection. Electronic instruments and sleigh bells provide the backdrop for this soft ballad. The song perfectly exemplifies Sufjan Stevens’ ability to take one of the most joyful topics, Christmas, and make it somber. When you need a break from the celebrational, cheery holiday music, this track is a more mellow alternative.

6) “Let It Go” by Pentatonix

Maybe you’re not quite over the overplaying of this instant Disney classic yet, but hopefully there’s still some room in your life for a brilliant acapella cover of it. Pentatonix never disappoints, and the combination of their always on-pitch vocals and the feel-good, winter-themed animation soundtrack of the decade make for a great cold weather tune.

7) “Snow” by Jesse Winchester

If you absolutely despise the cold, get ready for your new anthem. These lyrics are the thesis statement of the song: “Now you know what they say about snowflakes, how there ain’t no two the same. Well, all them flakes look alike to me — everyone is a dirty shame.” For all of us walking across campus during December, we’ll let others sing along to “Let It Snow.” Our lyrics of choice will be: “My ears are cold, my feet are cold.” Thanks, Jesse.

8) “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay

I love Coldplay so much that I listen to this song year-round, but now is its true time to shine. Piano and strings provide the instrumental backing for this track about a bad breakup on Christmas night. It’s a nice mix of emotion, Chris Martin’s belting and just enough holiday spirit. This is a great track for when you love the holiday, but don’t necessarily want to be “that guy” who only listens to “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” for the entire month of December.

Those are my choices for an atypical holiday season playlist. I’d love to hear yours in the comments or on Twitter — let us know at @ManeaterMOVE.

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