This blog is dedicated to those who work/have worked retail or service jobs during the holidays: working long hours while the same 20 Mariah Carey, Bing Crosby and WHAM! Christmas songs play on loop as you deal with difficult customers during the holiday rush, leading you to spiral into an existential crisis. I personally love classic Christmas tunes, even during my retail and service days, but totally understand how those songs can trigger awful memories, being such family-friendly Christmas playlist staples.
On this very genre-agnostic blog, I present to you some holiday releases that you can create new memories with, starting off with Canadian drummer, Daniel Mills of the New Brunswick-based band, Truce. His very metal cover of “Carol Of The Bells”, by BWC Christmas Orchestra will be a hit for the kids (and adults) out there who would love to see Santa (or “Danta”) behind the kit! If you’re from the Toronto area, you may have seen Daniel in bands such as Wheels On The Bus, A Rockwell Resolution, and The Johnny Lane Band. Though his focus has been on heavier genres, he feels right at home playing everything from jazz, country, pop, Latin, and hip hop. Head over to his YouTube channel to witness more of the magic!
Next up: the late and great, Nat King Cole’s “A Sentimental Christmas With Nat “King” Cole And Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined” with remastered collaborations with artists such as John Legend, Calum Scott, Johnny Mathis, and Gloria Estefan, to name just a few! What’s really special to me is the Gloria Estefan duet, “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” because as a little kid living in the ‘burbs of New Jersey, I absolutely adored her. Nat King Cole’s voice takes me back to a childhood family trip to Europe where my mum continuously played his song “Unforgettable”, featuring his late daughter, the queen Natalie Cole.
Full-circle moment: multi-GRAMMY-winning engineer and mixer Dave Reitzas (who mixed “Unforgettable”) co-produced, mixed and mastered the album alongside Jay Landers (Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Barry Gibb) and GRAMMY® Award winner and Oscar nominee Jorge Calandrelli (Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga).
Each single has exquisitely hand-drawn visualizers by Jon Jon, you can watch HERE.
Sometimes you just want to curl up with a good book and some chill -yet festive- instrumentals. Astralwerks and Blue Note Records has you covered with their jazz-infused/ downtempo electronica/ lofi release, “Bluewerks Vol. 5: Warm Up”. The visualizer is an hour and 16 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation. The album (produced entirely by Dutch artist and producer, Sebastian Kamae) can be streamed on all major platforms.
One of my new favorite things is GRAMMY®-nominated artist, Masego‘s “Favorite Tings“, a trap/jazz rendition of the original Rodgers and Hammerstein song. To me, I can picture hanging out at a nice lounge, dressed to the nines on a white couch, sipping eggnog (though I don’t drink anymore lol), and just enjoying the energy in the room. Definitely a sweet tune to ground you right in the moment!
VIBE praised Masego as a “self-taught saxophonist, pianist, singer, and producer here to give an old soul sound a fresh new take in today’s hip-hop climate.”
Has a song ever made you miss the love of your life you haven’t even encountered or met yet? Capitol Records released “Wishes Come True” by Dutch singer, Duncan Laurence. With lyrics like, “Put on your winter coat / I’ll be outside / Meet me under the mistletoe / Baby I’m falling for you / Like snow on a Christmas night / When I’m with you wishes come true.” it is easily one of the most romantic holiday songs I think I’ve ever heard. I think lyrically and melodically, it can actually melt the most cold and jaded hearts out there.
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got ABBA’s latest release, “Little Things”. The stunning and nostalgic holiday fun with the family-themed music video was directed by Grammy and BRIT Award-winning British music video director (and longtime ABBA fan!) Sophie Muller (Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Radiohead Annie Lennox, Sade, Beyoncé, Björk). I cannot imagine the joy of being a longtime fan of a band and directing their music video (it would be Deftones for me). Proceeds generated from the single are going to Unicef to help support the Global Child Protection Fund.
So there you have it, folks: 6 holiday releases that will resuscitate that holiday cheer for you! Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and awesome Christmas and an abundant new year all around!