Eight Great Non-Christmas Songs that Still Sound like the Holiday Season

Laura Madler, Staff Writer

It’s one of those cold, December days, and you’re in the car. You push the button to turn the radio on, hoping for some music to fill the silence. That’s when you hear it- the sickeningly sweet, repetitive piano riff of Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Turning the dial to the next station you are met with the glaring saxophone and raspy vocals of Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Frantically you switch the stations, seeking refuge from the seemingly inescapable trap of holiday music. “Feliz Navidad,” “Santa Baby,” and another Manheim Steamroller song that sounds just like the last. That’s it- the Christmas music is everywhere.

Christmas music can be a wonderful thing, but after hearing the same few songs on the radio since November 1st, even the most festive of carols will have you reaching for the station dial. Luckily, this list has eight great non-Christmas songs that will still put you in the holiday mood (while preserving whatever is left of your sanity after hearing “Jingle Bell Rock” for the twentieth time in a week).

  1. “Step”

By: Vampire Weekend

Album: Modern Vampires of the City

Christmas equivalent: “Christmas Canon” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Vampire Weekend has been infamous for making festive sounding songs (check out “Hannah Hunt” or “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance”), but this track off their third album really stands out. Maybe it’s the quiet chorus at the start of the song, the lyrics about people huddled on the streets while silent snow falls, or, more likely, the familiar bass line borrowed from Pachabel’s Canon in D. Whatever it is, this song makes for the perfect soundtrack to those quiet days in the holiday season.

  1. “God Only Knows”

By: the Beach Boys

Album: Pet Sounds

Christmas equivalent: “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

This sweet, sentimental tune by the crooning Beach Boys encapsulates the holiday season, so much so that some people have started to include it as a holiday song. The jingle bells and the beat made to sound like a horse trotting brings to mind images of horse-drawn sleighs. This song will make you smile any day, but it really seems to shine this time of year.

  1. “Sweater Song”

By: Weezer

Album: Weezer (Blue Album)

Christmas Equivalent: “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley

Taking a more electric guitar-filled approach to the holiday season, this song by the late 90s alt group has something oddly wintry about it- which might be helped by the fact that its title is quite literally a song about standard winter wear. “Sweater Song” will have you reaching for your favorite holiday sweater, cardigan, or pullover this season.

  1. “Marry You”

By: Bruno Mars

Album: Doo Wops and Hooligans

Christmas Equivalent: “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey

You knew a song like Mariah Carey’s holiday season staple would have to be on this list, and, well, here it is. Bruno Mars’s upbeat classic is full of bells and lyrics about a sweetheart- very reminiscent of the holiday music scene. This number by Bruno Mars is undoubtedly festive and will have you singing along during the holidays.

“Oh! Darling”

By: the Beatles

Album: Abbey Road

Christmas Equivalent:“Please Come Home for Christmas” by James Brown

The Beatles “Oh! Darling” takes on a bluesy feel synonymous with many holiday classics. John Lennon’s vocals match perfectly with the guitar, creating a sound that seems like it could be straight out of a holiday sock hop. Whether you have a case of the holiday blues, or you’re just in the mood for a different sound, this song is perfect for the occasion.

  1. “Fluorescent Adolescent”

By: the Arctic Monkeys

Album: AM

Christmas Equivalent:“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee

Love the rock sound of Christmas classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” but listening to their repetitive lyrics that seem to constantly be playing on the radio drives you a little up the wall? Try this retro staple by one of today’s most popular alt-rock bands. The Arctic Monkeys have taken on a throwback style recently, but the chorus and bright guitar on “Fluorescent Adolescent” make it the perfect song to listen to when you’re putting up those Christmas lights and decorating for the holidays.

  1. “Bremen”

By: the PigPen Theater Co.

Album: Bremen

Christmas Equivalent: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by the Barenaked Ladies

This folk song by Pig Pen Theater Co. is a bit of an unconventional pick, but after one listen, you can hear why it’s a good one for the holidays. The lyrics to “Bremen” are based on the famous fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, “The Bremen Town Musicians.” The storytelling aspect combined with the soft banjo and guitar create a warm, festive feel for the song.

  1. “Sister of Pearl”

By: Baio

Album: The Names

Christmas Equivalent: “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano

Baio’s popular single off his debut album The Names is upbeat and undeniably catchy. A bouncing rhythm and catchy bass line make the earworm worthy, but in the best way. Simple and sweet, it makes for a great song to listen to while you’re prepping for the holidays.