14 Christmas Songs Every Musician Should Listen To

22 December 2014

This Christmas – Cee Lo Green

Upbeat pop tune penned by Donny Hathaway that just seems to usher in the Christmas season in a fun way. It’s the perfect tempo for fooling yourself into thinking you’re a better dancer than you actually are. Cee Lo Green’s version is a great update on a classic. This song + setting up the Christmas tree = great start to the Christmas season.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Ben Abraham

O Come is a haunting, distinct-sounding Christmas hymn, owing to its use of the Dorian Mode and lyrics that petition for Emmanuel to “ransom captive Israel”. The chorus turns a corner and responds to the verse’s question with a resounding “Rejoice” and assurance of God’s faithfulness. The text of this Advent hymn is traced to the “O Antiphons” from about the 9th Century, and are used in Vespers during the final days before Christmas. I came across this acoustic, vocal-heavy, arrangement while watching other videos by Ben Abraham on YouTube. And it has instantly become my favourite version.

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting) – James Taylor

There’s something just right about James Taylor and Christmas time. James Taylor has been a family favourite since forever. And this song is probably my favourite secular Christmas song of all time. It has all the feels of an American Christmas movie, one of the ones that they’ll show every year before Christmas without fail. Fire up the holiday nostalgia with this track and pretend we live in a part of the world that has snow and all those things we only hear about in songs.

All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

The moment this song starts playing, every female in my house finds a fake mic (remote, hairbrush, etc.) and begins to lip-sync battle their way through all four minutes of this Christmas love song. As a keys player, can I just take a moment to express how much of a punishment this song is to play… Ouch! So many notes, so fast… Whoever decided to write that part… Yeah, thanks for that. But seriously, this song is just fun.

Silent Nocturne – Israel & New Breed (feat. Gerald Albright and Lalah Hathaway)

If there was ever a “musician’s” Christmas album, it would be this one. Incredible arrangements, incredible performances, incredible players. Everything just feels like it’s in the right place. This track here features guests Gerald Albright on saxophone and Lalah Hathaway on vocals. (She’s the singer that does that crazy vocal stuff on the Snarky Puppy track “Something”. And she’s also the daughter of Donny Hathaway, see This Christmas above). This song is a re-imagining of Silent Night with enough harmonic adventure to last you until at least next Christmas.

Other notable tracks in the Andrew’s Christmas playlist:

Come Thou Fount – Sufjan Stevens

Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney

The Lord’s Prayer – Frank Sinatra

Who Would Imagine A King? – Whitney Houston

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Babyface

Christmastime Is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio

You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song) – Rich Mullins

Gloria – Michael W. Smith

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

Merry Christmas everyone. Pray you would know God’s kindness and favour on you as you enter the next year. Big love from the Andrew Family!!!!

David Andrew
(Hills Campus Musicians Team)