Get Ready to Deck the Halls With This Festive Holiday Playlist

Collage of Christmas album covers for Samara Joy, Lucy Dacus, Laufey/Dodie, Tina Guo, and Gabrielle Aplin

Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re like us, you might be on the hunt for new holiday-themed music to add to your playlists.

Never fear, for Eulalie Magazine is here to provide tracks for your last-minute festive playlist, from sultry jazz tunes to pop-infused pops and headbanging rock.

Get your ho, ho, ho-liday fix with our list of 15 Christmas tunes that’ll keep the cold away in the days to come.

1. “Love to Keep Me Warm” — Laufey, Dodie

Cover for the single "Love to Keep Me Warm" by Laufey and Dodie
© ℗ 2021 Laufey

There’s nothing sweeter — or finer — than slipping into the warm, cozy atmosphere Laufey and Dodie’s cover of “Winter Weather” provides. Initially released by Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee in 1942, Laufey and Dodie’s take on the track, aptly titled “Love to Keep Me Warm,” embraces a jazzier vibe than the original’s big band sound.

Laufey and Dodie’s soft vocals pleasantly meld to create lush harmonies, while the instrumentation showcases a relaxing yet boisterous piano complemented by clarinets and a steady beat. It’s a nostalgic ’40s tune for the 21st century.

2. “Step Into Christmas” — The Puppini Sisters

If The Andrews Sisters have a modern-day equivalent, it’s The Puppini Sisters, a close harmony vocal trio whose very name pays tribute to the classic sisterly group. Their 2010 album, Christmas With The Puppini Sisters, boasts plenty of toe-tapping and catchy tunes, but the first track, “Step Into Christmas,” is a great way to get in the holiday spirit.

“Step Into Christmas” feels more big band-esque than jazz as a bold brass section punctuates the trio’s delightful voices. You’d be hard-pressed to find tighter harmonies (or fun key changes) elsewhere. If you need a serotonin boost, look no further than “Step Into Christmas.”

3. “Deck the Halls” — Tina Guo

Tina Guo is an immensely talented cellist whose covers of popular Game of Thrones songs, the Wonder Woman theme, and a Star Wars medley put her on everyone’s classical music radar. Her 2022 cover of “Deck the Halls” delivers a fresh interpretation of the Christmas carol, complete with dizzying, fast-paced descants and clapping that keeps the beat.

The most surprising aspect of this cover is the minor notes Guo infuses, which add a different tone to an otherwise uptempo song. It’s a beautiful showcase of her versatility as a musician.

4. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — My Chemical Romance

You’ve heard Mariah Carey’s career-defining 1994 track; now, prepare for My Chemical Romance’s cover. Well, it was released in 2005 during the height of the emo craze, but we elder emo kids still crave those heavy guitars and overdramatic singing.

MCR’s version of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” will make you headbang like it’s the mid-aughts and you’re in your parents’ basement. It’s the perfect mixture of delicious guitar solos, thrashing drums, and screechy vocals.

Let’s face it: Mariah can do “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” but could she take on “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”? The defense rests its case.

5. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — Gabrielle Aplin

John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” gets a dreamy pop ballad transformation with Gabrielle Aplin’s cover. Aplin’s sweet, subdued voice and piano are perfect for this reflective time of year. The stripped version of this tune allows you to focus on Lennon’s lyrics and the overall message, which might get lost in the flurry of instrumentation (Lennon’s original, of course, is gorgeous and timeless).

There’s a beautiful simplicity to Aplin’s take on “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” Sometimes, all you need are soothing vocals and a delicate tickling of the ivories.

6. Tracks in the Snow EP — The Civil Wars

The cover for the EP "Tracks in the Snow" by The Civil Wars
© ℗ 2011 sensibility recordings

The Civil Wars’ breakup is still a gaping, painful wound in the gut of the Americana/folk music world. One of their last offerings is Tracks in the Snow, a two-song EP featuring “Tracks in the Snow” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” The title track is an original from Joy Williams and John Paul White.

Everything from the instruments to Williams and White’s gorgeous vocals evokes the sight and feeling of standing in the snow. Their voices blend beautifully to create luxurious harmonies complemented by White’s soft plucking on the guitar and light piano playing. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” consists of Williams and White’s haunting voices and an acoustic guitar. Simple, elegant, and melodic.

7. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” — Samara Joy

If you’re on the hunt for a jazz artist reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald (who’s on this list) and Billie Holiday, look no further than emerging vocalist Samara Joy. Her rich, velvety voice is like butter and wholly unique. It’s like she stepped out of a time machine from 1943 to 2023.

Every track on her latest EP, A Joyful Holiday, is an absolute, dare we say it, joy, but her cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” feels like a warm hug. Listen to it while cozying up near a fire under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa in hand.

8. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” — Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald was one of the undisputed queens of Christmas, and any of her tracks deserves a place on your holiday playlist. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” is a bouncy, jazzy cover with plenty of horns and a boisterous piano to complement Fitzgerald’s smooth, powerful vocals. For the optimal listening experience, crank it up when the lights are turned way down low.

Fun fact: composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote this song in July of 1945 during a heat wave in Hollywood as the musicians wished for cooler working conditions.

9. “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” — NSYNC

This next one’s for all the ’90s kids out there. Nothing compares to busting out your Home For Christmas CD from NSYNC and dancing your little heart out. Every song on this album is a banger, but “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” feels like the proper tune to ring in the holiday season.

It’s peak ’90s boy band goodness, with an extra helping of festive harmonies and upbeat instrumentation that will give you the holiday spirit (if you don’t already have it).

10. “Santa Baby” — Eartha Kitt

Cover for the single "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt
℗ 2020 Sony Music Entertainment

Eartha Kitt knew a thing or two about steamy Christmas songs. Few artists are on her level in that regard. “Santa Baby” is a holiday classic. It’s eminently listenable, even seven decades later. The slinky jazz tune is made all the better with her sultry vocals that feel like an audible representation of silk.

The orchestra behind Kitt never overpowers her soft voice but complements it well. This is a good one to add if you’re a fan of vintage Christmas vibes and songs about seducing Santa Claus (although Mrs. Claus might have something to say about that).

11. “Silent Night” — Imelda May, Michel Legrand

Imelda May is a powerhouse vocalist whose voice hearkens back to the rockabilly era. She offers a more subdued approach to her cover of “Silent Night” with Michel Legrand. It showcases her versatility as a singer and her immense control. The backing orchestra is reminiscent of a 1950s movie musical, with lilting flutes, a soft plucking of a harp, and bold strings.

Legrand, a famed French composer, creates immersive orchestration that feels like classic Christmas. There are dynamics that tell a story. Later in the tune, May sings a few verses of “Silent Night” in French, and it’s gorgeous.

12. “Last Christmas” — Lucy Dacus

“Last Christmas” has a few different iterations in the music sphere, from the original by Wham! to Taylor Swift’s instantly recognizable cover. Well, we’ve got another fun cover to add to your playlist: “Last Christmas” from Lucy Dacus. You might know Dacus as a member of boygenius, but she’s a wonderful artist in her own right.

Her take on the now-classic Christmas tune is upbeat and riotous, with thrashing electric guitars, banging drums, and a smattering of screaming toward the end. Add in some bells, and you’ve got a delightful rock cover that gives new meaning to the lyrics.

13. “O Holy Night” — Tracy Chapman

Legendary singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Tracy Chapman’s music spans multiple genres (and decades). She takes on a folksy, Americana approach for her cover of “O Holy Night,” released in 1997. Her deep, resonant vocals are soothing, especially when incorporating fun harmonies. Chapman plucks away on her acoustic, layering different guitar lines to make a fuller sound. It’s a Christmas delight.

Fun fact: In 2023, Chapman became the first Black woman to win a CMA for Song of the Year when Luke Combs covered her song “Fast Car.”

14. “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24” — Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Cover for the album "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
© ℗ 1996 Atlantic Recording Corporation

Is it really Christmas if you don’t listen to Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Probably not. The progressive rock band has plenty of festive hits under their belt, but “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/14” from Christmas Eve and Other Stories is easily their most popular, and for good reason.

The composition is intricate and evocative, telling a whole story through the rises and falls in tempo and volume. Expect lots of heavy guitars, impressive descants, and stirring strings on this instrumental arrangement. It’s the very meaning of the word “epic.”

15. “Mistress for Christmas” — Halestorm

In 2016, rock outfit Halestorm released their cover of AC/DC’s “Mistress for Christmas,” and it’s an ’80s hair metal dream. Lead vocalist Lzzy Hale is hands down one of the best female singers in rock, whose name deserves to be discussed among the likes of Ann Wilson, Tina Turner, and Pat Benatar.

“Mistress for Christmas” is a hard rock cover with plenty of guitar solos reminiscent of the aforementioned hair metal of old as Hale’s powerful, serrated-edge vocals soar over the noise. It’s a worthy homage to AC/DC. For those about to rock, we salute you this holiday season.

What are your favorite Christmas or holiday-themed songs? Let us know in the comments below!

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