Holiday songs for the 21st century

Holiday songs for the 21st century

For when you get sick of the classics

Kanye West — Christmas in Harlem (2010)

Featuring an insanely catchy hook from Teyana Taylor, a great verse in classic Kanye fashion, and a sweet little verse from CyHi the Prynce, this track is a modern Christmas classic.

Sufjan Stevens — Christmas Unicorn (2012)

Indie darling Sufjan Stevens has released nearly three hours of Christmas music, but this is his masterpiece. This powerhouse of a track clocks in at over 12 minutes, and includes beautiful flutes, electronic sprinkles, and a Joy Division sample. Along with singing about magical unicorns, Stevens finds a way to criticize American culture. This song truly is a miracle.

LCD Soundsystem — Christmas Will Break Your Heart (2015)

Sleigh bells are the bookends on this depressing Christmas tune that marked the comeback of this legendary dance-punk group. This song is perfect for the winter S A D B O Y in all of us, with defeated verses that build up to an epic arrangement of strings and a middle-aged man yelling at the listener.

DMX — Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer (2017)

Though recordings of this have been in circulation for years, Spotify granted everybody’s wish recently by releasing a studio version of this beautiful cover of the classic Christmas song. The sleigh bell sample throughout the song is an especially nice touch.

Julian Casablancas — Christmas Treat (2009)

Strokes’ frontman Casablancas became a pioneer in modern-day indie rock thanks to The Strokes’ debut album Is This It. On this track, he treats the world with a Christmas song very reminiscent of the early Strokes discography.

Vampire Weekend — Holiday (2010)

Indie pop sweethearts Vampire Weekend included this sweet little track on their second studio album, Contra. It isn’t explicitly a winter holiday track, but fits in perfectly with the best of them.

Mac Demarco — White Christma$ (2015)

Canadian indie/lo-fi artist Mac Demarco adds his personal sound to this Christmas classic. The song features Mac’s signature psychedelic guitar sounds, including a nice little solo.

Andrew Bird — Auld Lang Syne (2012)

Classically trained indie/folk artist Andrew Bird’s rendition of this centuries-old New Year’s song is wonderful, complete with violin solo. Fun fact: “auld lang syne” can be roughly translated to “for old times’ sake.”

Listen to this playlist on Spotify.

Photo edited by Alora Griffiths/The Ontarion.