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Gauntlet Playlist Vol. 5: Happy Holidays

By Cristina Paolozzi, Ramiro Bustamante Torres, Valery Perez, Aymen Sherwani, Megan Koch and Rachneet Randhawa, December 23 2021—

It seems like the end of the year couldn’t come fast enough. Here at the Gauntlet, we are so grateful for all of the opportunities we’ve had to share stories and interview members of the community — but we’re ready for a break. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite holiday songs, no matter what you celebrate this season. 

From all of us here at the Gauntlet, we wish you a restful break and a wonderful new year! 

Cristina’s Picks: Editor-in-Chief

“What Are you Doing New Year’s Eve?” by Dick Haymes & The Les Paul Trio: 

It’s a little bit slow and a little bit nostalgic — all the warm and fuzzy feelings you get reflecting on another year gone by. It’s also a good tune to put on while you wait for that midnight kiss. 

“My Favorite Things” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: 

I never considered this Sound of Music piece to be a holiday song, but this arrangement makes me think of a bustling Christmas dinner with all of the extended family you never speak to coming around to share a meal together. Plus, there’s a bit of a James Bond theme to this tune, which gives it a cool jazzy vibe. 

“Don’t Shoot me Santa (feat. Ryan Pardey)” by The Killers: 

If there’s a Christmas album you need to listen to, it’s The Killers’ album Don’t Waste Your Wishes. Full of original holiday tunes, this song in particular details a negotiation between Santa Claus and someone who has made it on the Naughty List. If you’re sick of the same old Christmas songs playing on loop this season — especially if you work retail — this one will surely cleanse your palate. 

Ramiro’s Picks: Layout Editor

“O Holy Night” by Perry Como:

This one’s a classic and I love this version personally. Como’s baritone voice is very nice and with a small choir behind him, it really gives this song a magical vibe. The only version in my ears to come second is Celine Dion’s version.

“Oh Santa!” by Mariah Carey: 

She just doesn’t miss and we have to acknowledge her other Christmas hits. Definitely a great choice for a holiday party to bump into your crush under the mistletoe and have a fun time. Or jamming with your friends wearing onesies and watching terrible Hallmark movies as you make gingerbread houses. 

“New Year” by Regina Spektor:

Sometimes you spend the holidays alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. A bittersweet tune but with hopeful vibes of welcoming the new year in. If you’re someone who appreciates their sleep but still wants to celebrate New Year’s Eve — and maybe find yourself in New York — then this is the song for you.

“Boxing Day Blues” by Courtney Barnett: 

This song is a big win for all of my sad homies after Christmas is over and you have to take the tree down — not me though, I keep my tree up until mid-January. If you want more energy, then the revisited version might be for you. 

“I Had Sex With Santa” by Barnes & Barnes: 

Move over “Santa Baby”— we have a new holiday song that would make Mrs. Claus file for divorce. It’s a short song that will definitely surprise anyone the first time they listen to it, but what a little fun surprise.

Valery’s Picks: Visual Editor 

“No Time to Be Alone” by Will Joseph Cook:

Rosy cheeks and frozen fingertips as you embrace a lover on a dreary, cold December night. Can you tell I’m a romantic? 

“(Anywhere but) Home for the Holidays” by The Ballroom Thieves:

Christmas is not always a joyful time for me. Being an immigrant with not much money to spare ensures that I spend most of my holidays away from most of the people I love. The expectations of the month are often crushing and drain my energy. This song reflects the desire I have to just escape my home in Calgary, run away to somewhere nobody knows and just experience peace and no expectations. 

“Santa Baby” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats: 

Nathaniel really flirts with you in this track. His baritone and buttery enunciation really melt into your ears as you relax and get into the jazzy Christmas vibe. 

December Song” by Birdtalker, Joy Williams: 

A soft and cozy mood is set by the tone of the main singer. The lyrics fill you with the light and hope that comes from seeing those you love during the Christmas months, or with the longing you feel when you know you won’t be. For myself, this is a special type of bittersweet emotion to feel, as I often spend the Christmas months away from most of my family. 

“Oh Holy Night” by Andrew Bird:

I’m getting a little tired of the same old tunes being played around the holidays. I’m not a person of routine or repetition, so it’s time for a change. Andrew gets it. This is a simple, calm, not-trying-hard-at-all rendition of a classic. I love it. The rest of the album is a soon-to-be Christmas classic as well.

Aymen’s Picks: Voice’s Editor 

“Clémentine” by Yves Montand:

Every December, I bake cookies with clementine zest for my family and friends from scratch. This whimsical French song has always been the perfect accompaniment to my baking while I watch snow fall softly on a quiet, Sunday morning. 

Que reste-t-il de nos amours?” by Charles Trenet:

This song brings back memories of the life and laughter that emanates from the holiday season. It starts like a slow morning does — with calm piano instrumentals. As more guests begin to arrive, it transforms into a fast-paced and jubilant ballad, finally slowing down as the day winds to an end. The best way to describe this song is as if it were a kitten that happened to stumble across a piano and unintentionally started playing “Für Elise” with it’s paws while everyone laughed — only to tire itself out and fall asleep on the piano in a span of three minutes. 

evermore” by Taylor Swift: 

When I think of evermore, I think of a warm and inviting hearth welcoming me after spending an entire day out in the cold. The line “And I was catching my breath / Barefoot in the wildest winter / Catching my death” has the energy of a Coming-of-Age December — one that you will never forget. Swift’s softer vocals on this track are like a warm hug on the colder days when I’m feeling “unmoored” due to finals season. 

White Winter Hymnal” by Pentatonix: 

If I said I didn’t slap myself like Robbie from the “Hambone King” episode of Victorious, I would definitely be lying. While the Fleet Foxes version of this track will always have a place in my heart, Pentatonix’s cover is really fun to sing with your friends or even alone — if you’re someone who thinks of themselves as the main character in a Hallmark movie. I will not be held liable if this track inspires you to visit the small town you grew up in this holiday season and proceed to fall in love with your old-flame who is now widowed lumberjack that owns a Christmas-tree business.   

Megan’s Picks: Visuals Editor 

“Pennies from Heaven” by Louis Prima, Sam Butera & the Witnesses:

Although most Will Farrel stuff is hard for me to get through, one of my favourite Christmas movies is Elf. I can’t go a year without watching it. The movie made this song put me in a happy, goofy Christmas spirit every time! 

“Mele Kilikimaka (Merry Christmas)” by Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters:

It’s Bing Crosby! I rest my case. I still prefer a fluffy snow Christmas, though. 

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams: 

Finals are over (most importantly), pretty lights all over the place, Christmas baking — it really is the most wonderful time of the year. 

“Last Christmas” by Wham!:

George Michael. Need I say more? 

“The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” by Nat King Cole:

This song makes me feel excited, deeply melancholic and like I’m falling in love all at once. And it’s Nat King Cole *chef’s kiss*. 

Rachneet’s Picks: General Editor 

The holidays can be a time for mass consumption of random knick-kancks galore and so I’m going to tag onto the tacky with some fun and popular songs that’ll get you into the holiday groove!

Home Alone 2 – Lost In New York Soundtrack by John Williams:

This movie is not only a cult classic, but by far has the best and enjoyable holiday music as far as I can remember growing up. The soundtrack overall is fantastic and oh-so merry. If had had to choose just one track though it would be the Turtle Doves one

“Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee:

Despite being originally released in the 1950s it’s a timeless tune that makes each and every holiday memorable.

“Jingle Bell Rock (Daryl’s Version)” by Daryl Hall and John Oats:

I want to say Home Alone 2 again because I find that’s where I first heard it as a kid growing up. Nonetheless, it’s another throwback tune from the late ‘50s but has stood the test of time being re-released and covered.

“The Christmas Song” by The Jackson 5:

Anything they did back then was bound to be catchy and it’s safe bet this fun tune will be stuck in your head on repeat guaranteed.

“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson:

Despite the musical artist being a hot-headliner, this is one of those underrated Christmas songs. I appreciate it’s not as cheesy unlike some of the over-the-top releases by celebrities alike.

“Cozy Little Christmas” by Katy Perry:

This is one of those upbeat, peppy, playful even naughty tunes sure to bring some life into your may shopping trips and outings this holiday season

“Christmas Wrapping” by The Spice Girls:

Because if you wanna be my lover this mistletoe season, why not??

“Christmas In Harlem” by Kanye West, CyHi the Prynce, Teyana Taylor: 

It was obvious Ye would have dropped a special Christmas edition single by now and it’s as usually smooth and grand much like the featured collabs.

“Sleigh Ride” by TLC:

There’s not many decent R & B songs for Christmas, but this one is lit and a fun laid back track to throw on at any random house party or gathering for the festivities.

“It Was A…(Masked Christmas)” by Jimmy Fallon ft. Ariana Grande & Megan Thee Stallion:

And last but certainly not least as much as I appreciate the other more traditional take on songs listed above this is something more contemporary to represent yet another COVID Christmas.

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