Rock the Holiday

Winter Song

Christmas music doesn't need to be dire. Trust us - with an all-Christmas-music-all-the-time station turned on all the time, we now know.

The city is Toronto; the station is CHFI 98.1. No one else in this city bothers to play Christmas music, because that's all they play here. And when I say Christmas, I mean CHRISTMAS. These songs talk about Jesus, Mary and God. Holy smokes.

So in making our list of the best Christmas music ever, we return to the beginning, to a track that totally blew our mind the first time we heard it: Low's Little Drummer Boy (1999). We bought six copies that year on a trip to Edinburgh to give to our nearest and dearest, so special it was.

And then we move on to Walking in the Air (1985), by Aled Jones, which we discovered about 10 years ago (when going to see The Snowman with our niece). I know. But really, it's beautiful.

Next, we have Greensleeves by Loreena McKennet (1991) - haunting, sad, but never tired.

This year's discovery: Winter Song, by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. We heard it at a children's choir concert and thought, "For sure this has been done by a pop group." And it has, and just as beautifully.

Ending our top five, we have Personent Hodie, by the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. Obscure, perhaps, but this chorus used to open their Christmas concert with this 16th century Christmas carol; now they close their Christmas CD with it. And we love it.

And now that we have so much super-Christmas-music-savvy, we're going to give honorable mentions to the following five songs:

  • Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
  • Silent Night - Enya
  • Little St Nick - The Beach Boys
  • We Three Kings - Patti Smith
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies (feat. Sarah McLachlan)