Listen Up! Vol 2: Holiday Edition!

John Van Horn, Editor

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to another episode of Listen Up! Now that the year is winding to an end, amazingly, I have decided to craft this week’s recommendations around the holidays and end-of-the-year cheer. I sincerely wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a blessed Kwanzaa, and the best of fortunes this upcoming year!


Monday – “Christmas Time is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (1965)

This song is the definition of a holiday classic. The 1965 jazz tune, most notably featured in A Charlie Brown Christmas, is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. There is something heartwarming about this song to me, most likely because I always associate it with Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, the pitiful little one which his friends help him decorate. Although they are technically singing “We Three Kings” during the scene, I can’t help but feel warm, as if I have just drank a mug of hot cocoa on a snowy day, by “Christmas Time is Here.”


Tuesday –   “Pick out a Christmas Tree” by Dan + Shay (2021) 

“Pick out a Christmas Tree” is an Amazon Music original that was released during the 2021 holiday season by country-pop duo Dan + Shay. Definitely a less-traditional and more modern take on a Christmas tune, this catchy song packs a punch. Holiday festivity is abundant in every lyric, and the duo’s pop background gives this song to me, (and dare I say it?) “All I Want For Christmas Is You”  and “Last Christmas” vibes.


Wednesday – “Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes (1963)

Transitioning back to a more traditional foot, we have the ‘63 classic “Sleigh Ride.” This winter-themed song is a festive delight that is a staple on any “holiday favorite” playlist. Originally released, however, in 1949 by the Boston Pops, the song has gone on to be recorded by countless other artists, groups, and bands such as Harry Connick Jr, Johnny Mathis, and even R&B group TLC. Check out the different takes that various artists have performed on this holiday classic!


Thursday – “Miracle” by Matisyahu (2011)

While most radio stations are locked on Christmas music for the whole holiday season, I think it is important to shine a light on holidays, such as Hanukkah, that don’t get nearly enough radio time. Matisyahu, who has become a figure of advocacy through music with his iconic “One Day,” wanted to bring awareness to this cause with “miracle.” The song is an ear-grabber, that’s for sure. It is very upbeat and festive, and combines elements of traditional Hanukkah celebrations with a hip-hop background. I encourage you to listen to this song, because I am glad I did.


Friday “A Kwanzaa Song” by Lovely Hoffman (2017) 

Finally, I also think it is also key to be open-minded to other cultural celebrations outside of your own,  such as Kwanzaa, which is celebrated by African-Americans and people of African descent all over the globe. The holiday, which centers around upholding traditional elements of African heritage, is perfectly reflected in “A Kwanzaa Song.” Despite not being played on too many radio stations, Lovely Hoffman displays the power and meaning of Kwanzaa with this catchy track. Additionally, the music video for this song is made beautifully, so be sure to check it out.