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KCSU’s Holiday Music Guide

Brighid Bandel breaks down some of the most overlooked Holiday music that can make your playlist full of variety (or just sad girl music)!

Sick of the same sounding Mariah Carey music during the holidays? Listen, I used to be right there with you, I could not stand listening to Holiday music! However, the past couple of years working at KCSU, I have realized there is more than just 3 people making holiday music that you can enjoy. Now I’m not going to sit here and say songs like “Last Christmas” by Wham! are all annoying – because they are so catchy – but I’m here to make your holiday playlist be filled with so much variety your friends will be jealous of how cool you are. Also – I would love to mention that the song doesn’t need to have Christmas or holiday in the title to be classified as a holiday song – it’s a vibe remember that. Here’s a quick guide to some of my personal favorite Holiday music that seems to be overlooked!

See the playlist for full KCSU Holiday Guide on Spotify.


“Christmas is Calling (Jolly Jones)” by Lunar Vacation

Starting off strong, Lunar Vacation creates a feeling of returning to your hometown for the holidays, with the chorus encapsulates the changes you feel after leaving home for the first time and returning to a place that holds so many memories – yet is lonely. They sing about how they see the snow falling, however they don’t feel like it’s Christmas – something is missing. I always found myself listening to this song on my drive home from campus during the beginning of winter break. It’s an unfortunate reality that for many people (including myself) the holidays are the worst time of the year. This song has always felt like the effort put into celebrating what is supposed to be a jolly time, but facing the sad reality of things not being how they used to during the holidays.



“Christmas in Suburbia” by The Cleaners from Venus

This song is quite the opposite of Lunar Vacations track – this is almost the rebellion sister of spending time in your hometown. I always pictured this song being the opening to some new indie holiday movie. It has a punky – indie rock sound to it, and surprisingly does cover the same things as Lunar Vacation – but in a more upbeat way. They sing about coming home for the holidays and realizing your bed is no longer your bed, but being optimistic about celebrating the holidays in the suburbs. It’s a short and sweet song of romanticizing gold old suburbia.




“Uncomfortable Christmas” by CMAT & Junior Brother

This is an irish country folk sounding song that is … sad. Notice a theme? I digress, CMAT and Junior Brother share two sides of a break up during the holidays and how uncomfortable Christmas has become. Their voices work perfectly together and create an overall energy that makes you want to sit and listen to this song on the early mornings of Christmas next to the fire. It’s another shorter song that really shows the side of the sad romance aspect that the holidays sometimes hold. Shocker that you can be sad about other things than your family or changes!




“is it new years yet?” by Sabrina Carpenter

This is the newest and most upbeat song I will be talking about today! Yes, does Sabrina talk about how much she hates the holidays and “December is a prison”? Yes of course she does, but this song has a great pop vibe that you will be more focused on dancing than the actual lyrics. Carpenter sings about how much she hates the holidays since she doesn’t want to see all the ooey-gooey love and couples! She begs Santa for New Year’s to come soon and the holiday season to end. She also wants to stop being reminded that she has no one to hold at home! Her EP, “fruitcake” is a must listen this holiday season, as its a fresh take on holiday pop music!



“December Love” by Piper Madison

God. This song. With folky Sixth Pence Non the Richer vibes, Madison finally gives us a good holiday love song on the playlist! It makes you want to slow dance next to fire – “snow is falling and I am too, for you” Madison sings. Ugh! Guys, I don’t even no how to describe this song for you. It makes me actually love the holidays.




“Merry Christmas” by Willie J Healey

Okay, this is another sad-ish song. I could listen to this song all year round if I would feel morally okay with that. Healy sings to their love, hinting that they might not be together even though he is wishing them a happy end of year & Christmas. The backing vocals on the chorus (thats an actual chorus) makes it feel more passionate and gives me chills just thinking about it. I can’t decide if this is a love song or a breakup sad song, however I find myself really jamming out to this 24/7 during the month of December.




“Flowers in December” by Mazzy Star

This is the first song on the playlist that isn’t really Christmas related at all. However, since it takes place in the month of December, it has the holiday vibe! Anything Mazzy Star puts out will get me on board with it, but this of course is such a heartbreaking love song that I find myself listening to it any time I can – especially in the month of December.




“Lights On” by Tyler, the Creator ft. Ryan Beatty & Santigold

This is a very underrated EP when it comes to the Holidays. Tyler, the Creator was in charge of the soundtrack for the new Grinch movie back in 2018, and along with the official movie soundtrack, Tyler decided to drop a quick EP of synth heavy holiday tracks. The pop, synth, hip hop, holiday sound of the EP – especially this song – will make you again, want to listen to this all year long (which sometimes, I do, but don’t judge). One of the happiest songs on this guide, it’s full of wanting to “leave the lights on” because no matter how the weather is – they are coming home for the holidays! “Lights On” will get stuck in your head and make you want to frolic in the snow.



“Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” by Forrest Nelson

Oh Forrest Nelson! My biggest hatred for holiday music is the variety, the only real big Hanukkah song I can think of it by Adam Sandler and I personality would love to add more variety in this guide & listen to every type of holiday music. Forrest was a DJ here at KCSU & a huge local FoCo artist, so I might be biased by adding him to the list – however I think its fair! This song – an EP especially – is a mix of campy hyperpop all over the place holiday music. If you aren’t a fan of how holiday music sounds, then this EP is for you. With hints of holiday bells and classic sounds we are used to, this EP makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a holiday party having the time of your life – probably in an ugly sweater and drinking eggnog.


“xmas break” by april june

The last song on this guide I want to talk about is by april june. “xmas break” brings you another song that describes the feeling of seeing someone during the break after a time away. Things might have changed, but why do people forget the relationships when they see that person in their hometown? I always got confused about that (and do this sometimes too). A sad yet hopeful song about how maybe this break will also be good for the relationship and things will be better during xmas break. Ah, the hopes and dreams we have over this month long break.




See our full guide on our Spotify @KCSUFM.