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4 Underrated Christmas Songs to Listen To

Let's retire 'Jingle Bells' once and for all.

Photo by Tyler Delgado on Unsplash

With one day until Christmas, there’s just barely enough time to listen to some holiday tunes. However, we’ve heard the bells jingle since we were kids. Rudolph’s nose probably has dead batteries. Santa may not be able to come to town this year, due to the government shutdown. It’s 2018, a year that was progressive and voices were raised as they spoke on important issues. Representation for women and people of color was seen in television and movies. Social media united us as we navigated the murky waters pop culture and tried to decipher Trump’s tweets. This year was unlike any other and proved that change was possible. However, I think we need to switch up what we listen to every December 25.

“Merry Christmas, Lil’ Mama”—Chance the Rapper and Jeremih

Fans of the 79th rejoice! "Merry Christmas, Lil’ Mama"—both the mixtape and song itself—are sure to put you in the dancing mood. This song is a combination of heavy bass, timely handclaps, soulful runs from Jeremih, and smooth melodies from Chance. I first discovered the mixtape over a year ago, and it still is fresh and fun.

“I’m the Grinch”—Tyler, the Creator (ft. Fletcher Jones)

I never imagined Tyler, the Creator to be featured on anything Christmas related. The often acidic rapper Tyler, the Creator has changed his sound since his release of Flower Boy last year. He channeled a chill vibe with french horns, pianos, and violins with Flower Boy, and carried the same aesthetic to the 2018 reboot of How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ soundtrack. The song is the equivalent of running in the snow, but with a sprinkle of Tyler of course. It’s a clean, kid-friendly, and lighthearted track that sugarcoats The Grinch’s bad attitude and his ability to hate Christmas. The track is safe to play in a car full of kids and its lyrics totally be appropriate to repeat at school during the new year. (As for the rest of Tyler’s music, be careful not to let the kids venture too far. I love Tyler, don’t get me wrong. But I’m in college, and I’ve heard many things. Kids should definitely wait before they pick up Tyler’s 2011 album Golbin, for example.)

“Santa Tell Me”—Ariana Grande

What can’t Ariana Grande do? From empowering women to singing Christmas carols, Ariana’s 2014 single “Santa Tell Me” is relatable. Grande recounts the story of dealing with a shady boy who she’s hesitant to fall in love with, fearing that he won’t be in it for the long run. She asks Santa for guidance to figure if this mystery boy is really worth her time. It includes the classic Christmas sounds, such as sleigh bells, but it wouldn’t be an Ariana Grande song without her effortless riffs as she revisits R&B roots. This song transports us back to the 90s...a simpler time.

“Fa La La”—Justin Bieber (ft. Boys II Men)

Speaking of 90s R&B, Justin Bieber struck gold when he released Under the Mistletoe. At this point in his career, Justin was slowly transitioning into R&B music, like Ariana Grande. He wasn’t bubblegum pop anymore, and I believe that this album began to establish how he was growing into a man. When this was put out in 2011, my little Belieber heart burst with excitement. The love of my life, who is now very married, had gifted me the honor of jamming out to an album of Christmas songs. Most of them were also original and written by Bieber, even better! I don’t think there was a song on this album I didn’t like. But, one that tugged my heartstrings was “Fa La La” featuring Boys II Men. My mom definitely was a fan of this one, as Boys II Men was one of her favorite “boybands” growing up. The song is the equivalent of sipping hot chocolate on Christmas Eve, as Justin Bieber sings his promises to be beside you when the fire goes out. Claiming he can “hear melodies when your heartbeats”, this pretty much set my standard high for any future men that would later grace my life. No one could compare to Justin Bieber.

My hope for 2019 is that we begin to retire the songs played year after year. It’s a new day, with different views that just don’t align with music written in the forties. A few tweaks to the rerun tracks echoing throughout the mall won’t do any harm. With music that fits the time, we are also letting go of old traditions and able to move forward to a more inclusive and socially conscious world. 

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