(This story is sponsored by SiriusXM.)
Chances are you’re already starting to hear the old chestnuts—“Jingle Bells”, “Silver Bells”, maybe a bit of “Holly Jolly Christmas”—as we begin to celebrate an unusual holiday season. But just because you’re used to hearing the same handful of songs every year doesn’t mean those are the only or even best holiday songs out there.
So many artists have tried their hands at holiday music, whether original songs or interesting takes on the classics that you really don’t have to confine yourself to just Nat King Cole and the Chipmunks. There’s so much more to hear.
SiriusXM has you more than covered this holiday season. Whether you’re streaming through the app or listening in your car, a SiriusXM subscription gets you access to 14(!) unique holiday channels, playing ad-free music 24/7.
With so much to choose from, the service is a chance to shake up your holiday traditions and discover something new. Or fall further in love with the sounds and styles that have defined your holidays past.
It’s a great gift for anyone with that insatiable appetite for bells and stockings.
Classical, country, Latin, Motown and soul, acoustic music, classic rock, and even downtempo electronic chill-out vibes are just a few of the holiday genres to discover on SiriusXM, in addition to the traditional tunes you crave (found on the Holly, Holiday Traditions and Jolly Christmas channels).
So, to expand your holiday music horizons, here are five off-kilter or newer music choices for this season.
James Brown: “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”
Some of the best Christmas songs are in the soul and funk genre, even for those who say they don’t enjoy holiday songs. Just play James Brown, whose 1968 album Soulful Christmas is among his best, period. The same album features the debut of one of his most fiercely political anthems, “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud”, and you’ll find “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”.
Just listen to the Godfather of Soul exhort jolly old St. Nick not to forget about the kids in the inner city by reminding him “tell ‘em James Brown sent you” and try not to smile.
Hear it on: Holiday Soul. Also playing: The Supremes, Jackson 5, John Legend, Boyz II Men, and more.
Darlene Love: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
This song wasn’t always the modern Christmas classic it’s considered today. The only original song on the amazing 1963 album A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (not the first person we’d want a gift from but you kind of have to ignore certain things to enjoy a lot of classic pop), it would make Darlene Love synonymous with the holidays over the last few decades.
She’s performed the song every year since the mid-80s, first on Letterman and then on The View. It’s a perfect song of longing and cheer, the ideal holiday song mix. One of the few that stays fresh no matter how many times you play it.
Hear it on: Holiday Soul, Jolly Christmas. Also playing: Gwen Stefani, Pentatonix and more.
This channel is more about the vibe than any specific song. If you still want to hear your favourite Christmas classics, from “Jingle Bells” to Nina Simone’s “Chilly Winds” but don’t want to feel like you’re perpetually in line at Winners in December, this is the place to go.
Its downtempo electronic, deep house and trip-hop versions of all your favourite Christmas music and it goes down so easy you can easily leave it on until December 25. Or even later, like with superstar Kaskade’s sultry version of New Year’s Eve standby “Auld Lang Syne” featuring Canadian singer Alicia Moffett. It’s the right station to have on while sipping a hot chocolate under 14 or so blankets and the sweats you’ve had on since March.
Also playing: Lost Frequencies, D.J. Style, Fink and more.
The Ramones: “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”
Even the most formative punk rockers had a Christmas song or two in their repertoire (despite being Jewish, Joey Ramone actually has a full album of them).
For those who like some power chords in their holiday cheer, this is a great one that hearkens back to both the Phil Spector-produced girl groups that the Ramones loved so much and their own revved-up classic “Blitzkrieg Bop”. It’s a bop itself, though one with a bittersweet underbelly: a song about putting aside your quibbles for one night of togetherness (whatever that might mean this year).
Hear it on: Rockin’ Xmas. Also playing: The Kinks, Weezer, AC/DC, U2 and more
Adam Sandler: “The Chanukah Song”
As the Sandman will tell you, hearing so many Christmas songs every year—like say, 14 channels worth— can make the sad little Jewish kids feel left out. So he made the ultimate Chanukah song, one that claims all the fellow famous Jews for the children without Christmas trees. Hearing about the faith of Arthur Fonzarelli, hall of famer Rod Carew or all three Stooges never gets old, somehow, year after year. Not too shabby.
Hear it on: Rockin’ Xmas and Radio Hanukkah
Start listening now at www.siriusxm.ca/get-started/streaming/.