Merry Christmas Eve, lovelies! It’s time for a playlist, based on the Canadian Christmas song list I made for myself last year. I was inspired by a couple of relatively recent, unique holiday-themed songs I’d heard that I liked. Which sounds overly obvious, but let me tell you: I do not adopt new Christmas songs easily.
I can sing along to Wham! or Mariah with a li’l eye-roll and enjoy them superficially, but for the most part, I’m a Christmas music snob. Musically speaking, I like traditional and early carols best, followed by classics written no later than the 1960s.
Yet last year, thanks to the algorithms of my music service, I came upon some Canadian-made holiday songs written in the last 5-25 years that I really enjoy listening to. Yay! More stuff to love. I’m including lotsa links, in case you wanna see if you love them too.
(You may notice some duplication of artists in the two following lists. What can I say – I like the folks I like.)
- Harbour Lights, by the Ennis Sisters. They. have such lovely voices and harmonies. I also like the brave bluntness of the line “My town struggles to survive, but at Christmas comes alive.”
- Come On! Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance!, by Fortunate Ones. I’m linking this video straight in because it’s incredibly fun and silly, like the song itself. Check out the amazing list of participants in this video!
- It’s Christmas, by David Myles. Sean and I have a great appreciation for David, as you may know. Throw in a bunch of li’l kids singing along and it’s utterly charming.
- Celebration, by the Nylons. I have been a fan of the these Canadian a cappella legends since the late 80s (we had a number of cassette tapes, originally thanks to my brother). And I still love their sound, even with personnel changes. If you were/are also a fan, this will make you smile.
- 3 Generations, by Hawksley Workman. I love the hokey piano and drums, and his joy in the banal but precious moments that recur at Christmas.
- Don’t You Know It’s Christmas, by Molly Johnson. This smooth-yet-energetic song makes me bop around – even while typing. And it has some sparkly glockenspiel for extra magic.
- At Last I’m Ready for Christmas, performed by the Barra MacNeils. I laughed out loud the first time I heard this song – it’s so fun and greatly melodic. AND – yay for blogging research – I just found out it was written by none other than Stan Rogers! So of course it’s awesome. Check out his version too!
- Please Please Snow!, by the MacMaster Leahy Family. This song focuses on this family’s uber-talented kids – I’m guessing they had quite a bit of input into the writing of it. The child in me relates deeply to the lyrics.
- It Snowed, by Meaghan Smith. Somehow, back in 2011-ish, Meaghan wrote this song that sounds like a legendary classic from four seconds in.
- Christmas Eve, by Spirit of the West. Gah, it’s just so good. No lyrics, just that gorgeous SOTW sound. Starts out like a small kitchen party and becomes an epic dance that might give you goosebumps and will definitely fill your bucket.
- A New Christmas Song, by Florence K (feat. Stefie Shock). This song makes me sway, in a good way. The instrumentation just gets better as it goes along.
- Quiet Christmas, by Jeremy Fisher. He is one of those artists ALL of whose albums I can listen to and not get sick of him. This is obviously a Covid song, which we can all relate to with a sigh. And the fa-la-las are sweet.
- Children’s Winter, by the Barra MacNeils. Not actually a Christmas song, just a beautiful evocation of the deep-down joy I remember feeling as a kid when it snowed.
- Christmas in Hopetown, by Molly Johnson. This song is a lovely reverie. And there’s something so compelling in the contrast between the piano and Molly’s voice.
- Christmastime (Oh Yeah), by the Barenaked Ladies. This has about as mellow a groove as a holiday song could wish for, and the lyrics are simple and cutely nostalgic.
- Under the Tree, by the Good Lovelies. Awww, it’s just so sweet and full of quiet, smitten holiday magic.
- Christmas Time at Home, by Sons of Maxwell. There is something so satisfyingly earnest about this song – the two-part harmonies, the guitar rhythms, and of course the friendly lyrics. Cheesy – yes. Listenable – eminently.
- Magic of Christmas, by Twin Flames. Chelsey June and Jaaji of Twin Flames are the husband-and-wife team responsible for me, a bunch of my students, and thousands of other kids across Canada learning to sing some lovely words in Inuktitut (and English) a few years ago for the Canadian Music Class Challenge. They write so simply but so beautifully.
- This Will Be the Year, by Hawksley Workman. Ah, Hawksley’s poetry will live on and inspire you in ways you can’t quite detect but will appreciate subconsciously. And if you don’t have enough harmonica on your Christmas playlists in general, here ya go.
- Let Joy Reign, by Measha Brueggergosman and Royal Wood. I love the way she can do anything with that voice of hers, and the way his piano is always just what it needs to be. Check out this short story about how they ended up collaborating!
- Go Safely into the Night, by the Ennis Sisters. It simply enfolds all the feelings you have when the party is over, your people are heading out into the dark snowy world, and you just love them so much, and all you want is for them to get home safely.
- This Empty Street, by Fortunate Ones. This is the last song on my personal “Christmas in Canada” playlist, because I can’t follow it with anything. It’s too beautiful. The first time I heard it, I felt its sacredness – and I’m re-struck every time I hear it. Just listen.
I hope you find a few songs to love from these lists! And I hope you are all warm and safe from the storm, with some joy in your heart.