Whenever I'm visiting my parents for Christmas, there's always a lot of negotiation over the music selection. My mom wants to hear carols non-stop. Me, it's been about 17 years since I've liked most of that stuff. I don't want to be a fucking Grinch, so in car trips I'm trapped listening to this crap non-stop.
Then I reached a solution. I originally wanted to come up with a list that would please my parents without hurting me, but now I realize that it's oh-so-much better than that. Download these songs and arrange them in this precise order, and you're guaranteed a happy Christmas regardless of creed or temperament.
1. That's What Christmas Means to Me My Love, Stevie Wonder. If the lyrics were different, I'd listen to it year-round. This song is just really, really good.
2. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love. Always reminds me of Goodfellas, and might explain why I consider Goodfellas a Christmas movie.
3. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee. An old standard that doesn't suck.
4. The Chipmunk Song. Annoying even in tiny doses, but in the company of these other songs, it's a Yuletide delight.
5. Run Rudolph Run, Chuck Barry. Rowdy and zany!
6. Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt. For the seductive materialist in all of us.
7. Feliz Navidad, Jose Feliciano. I rocked out to this during the Sesame Street Christmas special when I was about three or four. Another indispensable classic.
8. Frosty the Snowman, The Ronettes. Christmas and Motown go together brilliantly.
9. 'Zat You Santa Claus? Louis Armstrong. Can't spell "rousting morals" without Louis Armstrong!
10. O Holy Night, Tiny Tim. What makes a traditional religious song palatable to an atheist? A hilarious, wacky rendition, that's what.
11. Mambo Santa Mambo, The Enchanters. Calypso also goes well with Christmas.
12. White Christmas, Darlene Love. See entry 8.
13. White Christmas, Bing Crosby. Throw in a traditional song to keep Mom happy. The two versions of White Christmas work best back to back.
14. The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole. This also makes Mom happy, but it's a great song to boot.
15. Frosty the Snowman, Jimmy Durante. It's funny.
16. Sleigh Ride, The Ronettes. See entry 8.
17. We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Jingle Dogs. Also featuring: cats. You go out with a bang, and all the pets in the house will go moderately crazy, cocking their heads and barking and running around.
This playlist goes well on Christmas morning with the family, yes, but it also works as a normal hang-out playlist. I listened today as I walked around Manhattan's cold canyons, Marlboro Light dangling from my mouth as I spread a unique brand of holiday cheer. It really got me in the spirit of the season.
It's also good stuff for someone who loves Christmas but prefers to stay true to its pagan roots. But even if you're a Believer, it's good for you too.