5 Christmas songs I’ll embrace this early in November


Photo courtesy of dollyparton.com

Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” is among the best in her entire discography.

We’re less than halfway through November — and yet, if you’ve found yourself flipping through radio stations at all over the past few days, you just might have just stumbled across a station or two already having switched over to full-time Christmas rotations.

The appropriate time for this shift is highly contested. Many refuse to welcome the presence of Christmas music until the month of the holiday is upon us, while others are tuned into the festive sounds from the second the clock strikes midnight on Nov. 1 — we’re looking (adoringly) at you, Mariah Carey.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of this debate — however, some Christmas songs are just too irresistible for me to put off listening to for any longer, five of which I’ve included right here.

Dolly Parton, “Hard Candy Christmas”

The juxtaposition between Dolly Parton being the most happiness-inducing person in the world and this song being so heartbreakingly moving makes this a shoe-in for my frequent rotation the second temperatures dip. From hauntingly slow verses that chronicle Parton’s endearingly fickle post-break up plans to an anthemic chorus that sees her vowing to persevere through her sorrow, Parton’s ode to getting through the holidays while nursing a broken heart is among the best in her entire discography. It’s empowering to those who need a little encouragement when feeling blue at Christmastime, and a wonderful testament to finding oneself through any struggle that makes me long for the season in which it shines each year.

Elton John, “Step Into Christmas”

I, for one, would blindly follow Elton John anywhere he wanted to lead me — so of course I happily oblige each year when he invites me to step into Christmas with him. Punchy, fast-paced and rather blindingly joyful, this track encompasses in song form the childlike anticipation that comes with so many holiday activities, such as decorating the tree or heading off to sleep on Christmas Eve.

The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping”

It’s a new wave Christmas song! Incorporating the signature stream of consciousness lyrical style and unconventional vocal melodies beloved by the genre, this song sees Parton’s aforementioned solution to suffering through the holidays and raises it a few humorously melancholy verses and an ultimately happy ending.

If you’re a Spotify user, there’s also a cover of this song on the app by indie-pop artist JAWNY — recorded as part of his Holiday edition of the Spotify Singles series — that I can’t get enough of, either.

Ariana Grande, “Snow In California”

Don’t get me wrong — “Santa Tell Me” deserves every bit of the praise it gets as Grande’s most popular Christmas song, and it’s a staple of my seasonal listening each year all the same. That said — “Snow In California” is my favorite from the glorious catalog that is Grande’s Christmas collection. With its soft melodies and that mesmerizing pop/R&B instrumental reminiscent of a soulful nineties classic, it’s a completely captivating, underrated holiday gem of a love song. (Also — “Dear Santa, it’s me, Ariana,” is simply a genius line that I’m grateful to have stuck on an endless loop in my mind each year.)

Kelly Clarkson, “Underneath The Tree”

I may or may not have been listening to this one on the low since August. This song truly places me right in the mindset of one of those people in the Target commercials, throwing around fake snow and dressing to the nines in discounted scarves and boots. If you’re looking for the perfect song to wail at the steering wheel until you’re officially into the Christmas spirit — and willing to nurse some sore vocal chords after trying to match Clarkson’s range — this is the song for you.