17 December 2021

Thanks, Mariah – but it’s not you, it’s us

Expert comment
Cards on the table – we love the classics. But we know that the same old festive tracks can get repetitive year after year.

As experts in all things audio and passionate about music, we’ve dived through the back catalogues to compile an extensive Spotify playlist featuring over 60 less well-worn Christmas-themed songs.

Forget the usual tracks that feature in adverts year after year. They come from artists including No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, The Chemical Brothers and HAIM. You can follow the playlist here. And if we’ve not yet convinced you, here are a few of the highlights…


No Doubt – Oi to the World

A cover of the Vandals song from the album of the same name, this high-energy track tells the story of two people from different cultures (in this case, punks and skinheads) fighting at Christmas – to which it’s suggested God would say ‘Oi!’.

No Doubt’s uniquely Southern Californian version of ska-punk is surprisingly well-suited to Christmastime; packed with trumpets and tambourine that introduce a subtle festivity, it’s the perfect counter to the usual saccharine-sweet popular offerings.


Daði Freyr – Something Magical

You’d forgive Iceland’s Daði Freyr for being fed up of ice and snow, but he’s penned one of 2021’s most self-aware festive songs.

Fresh from finishing fourth at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, Freyr – whose 2020 song ‘Think About Things’ went viral back in the early days of the pandemic – has been working hard to take build on this momentum and grow his profile. Something Magical is a sleigh bell-tinged track about the repetitive nature of our holiday traditions.


Gabriella Cilmi – Warm This Winter

Australian pop singer Gabriella Cilmi had experienced moderate chart success when British supermarket chain Co-operative Food commissioned her to cover a little-known 1960s track for use in their Christmas TV campaign.

A great example of brandable music, the song played on heavy rotation in Co-op stores until early 2011 – and a few months later, it appeared in cellphone service provider Virgin Mobile’s Christmas campaign in the US.


Hurts – All I Want for Christmas is New Year’s Day

British synth-pop duo Hurts, known for performing in suits, don’t scream ‘festive’– and yet this track from their debut album is a great addition to any holiday playlist.

Toeing the line between melancholic and anthemic, this ode to January 1 plays on the idea of Christmas bells ringing the changes – waving goodbye to a year we’d rather forget, and looking forward to a happier future.


Sufjan Stevens – I’ll be Home for Christmas

American multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens has released a series of 10 Christmas EPs over the years, featuring dozens of holiday songs – and this haunting and ethereal cover of the typically jazz-influenced holiday standard features on ‘Let It Snow’, the ninth instalment.

Originally penned to honour soldiers stationed overseas over the festive period, the song has taken on a new poignancy as people around the world face up to the prospect of another Christmas separated from loved ones by travel restrictions.


Vince Vance & The Valiants – All I Want for Christmas is You

Stay with us – this isn’t a cover of Mariah’s omnipresent holiday hit, but an entirely different song that merely shares its name and actually pre-dates that song by five years.

Many country music fans will already know it well, but for the rest of us, let us explain: Vince Vance & the Valiants are best known as a novelty act singing parody songs, but this earnest track features vocals from Lisa Layne and wouldn’t be out of place in a heartwarming holiday movie.


Listen to the playlist here:


If you’re interested in having your own bespoke, alternative track all year round (not just for Christmas!) get in touch with our experts who will be happy to tailor one to suit your business.


Related insights

Create a ‘tone of voice’ for your business in 10 minutes

Guides & explainers

Create a ‘tone of voice’ for your business in 10 minutes

When we’re crafting scripts for a client brand, one of the things we have to consider is the tone you’d like to speak in – and this rough-and-ready guide can help you decide in a matter of moments.

The 2022 Eurovision songs you need to hear

Expert comment

The 2022 Eurovision songs you need to hear

It’s almost time for the world’s most-watched song competition, and our expert Music team have given the 40 entries a spin to pinpoint the ones you need to hear.

2022 trends in rebranding

Expert comment

2022 trends in rebranding

As with car design, interior design and clothing design, there are trends in brand design too. We’ve looked at what’s happening in the industry right now.