Atwood Magazine Presents Mistletones: 2022’s Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 1

Atwood Magazine's Mistletones 2022, Pt. 1
Atwood Magazine's Mistletones 2022, Pt. 1
To celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year,” Atwood Magazine’s Mistletones features fresh holiday/wintertime tracks and exciting covers of beloved classics. December has a knack for bringing out some of the most poignant, tender, and celebratory music, and we want to highlight that excitement by showcasing new and alternative holiday greats! Spice up your holiday season with songs you can listen to now and cherish in the years to come.

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Mistletones by Atwood Magazine

Just checked the news,
w
e’ll be snowed in this afternoon
Stocking the fridge,
I think we’re only expecting an inch
Baby it’s cold outside,
d
rinking wassail instead of wine
And I’m missing you this year
And it breaks my heart
w
hen I’m alone in for the winter
a
nd I just wanna see ya
c
an you move your car
When there’s snow in Montana
a
nd you’re stuck in a blizzard
Does it break your heart
l
ike it breaks my heart?
– “Snow in Montana,” Michigander ft. Gabrielle Grace, moony, Abby Holliday

The most wonderful time of year has come around once again, and we’re ready to ring in the festivities with a fresh batch of holiday songs and winter wonders!

This year’s holiday season is marked by a resounding sense of appreciation, hope, excitement, and yearning: Many of our 2022 Mistletones picks capture what we might deem that “classic” holiday cheer – evoking feelings of togetherness, connection, and love – whilst just as many take on a more nostalgic or wistful tone, aching with the sorrow and loneliness that often accompanies the holidays. “Can’t deck the halls when I can barely afford the room. Where’s Santa Claus; did I give up hope too soon?” we hear in “Snow in Montana,” the stirring new song from Michigander featuring Gabrielle Grace, moony, and Abby Holliday. “It’s a not so silent night, it ain’t so calm and it sure ain’t bright, but I don’t mind the cold…

Whether we’re basking in the bliss of Bishop Briggs’ “Cheer,” dwelling in the raw reverie of Stars’ “Christmas Anyway,” soaking up the sun with Switchfoot’s “California Christmas,” or dreaming away the day with Laufey’s beautifully hypnotizing “The Christmas Waltz,” all of this year’s Mistletones manage to embrace the spirit of this special season – lighting a fire deep inside us with captivating soundtracks and heartwarming reflections on life, happiness, and the people who matter most to us.

We hope these songs help inspire a sense of community and connection, love and togetherness for all who listen. This year’s Mistletones submissions are so great in number, and these songs are so special, that we’ve chosen to split them up into multiple features. See below as 26 artists from around the world share what the holiday season (and holiday music) means to them, and listen to our Mistletones Holiday Songs playlist on Spotify. For more 2022 Mistletones, check out Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

From our family to yours, happy holidays and happy new year!

Love,

Mitch Mosk, Editor-in-Chief

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Featured here are Michigander, Bishop Briggs, Stars, Laufey, Switchfoot, Rosie Thomas & Sufjan Stevens, VOODOO RADIO, Samara Joy, Timothy Edward Carpenter, Valencia, Elizabeth Moen, Vika & Linda, Thomas Day, Alessia Cara, grentperez, Mother Mother, Joss Stone, PANTōNE VU, nobody likes you pat, Moonalice, Jhené Aiko, The Aquadolls, The High Court, dee holt, Taylor Ashton, and Oliver Hazard!

Dive into these songs and our holiday interviews!

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:: Michigander ::

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There are the Christmas songs filled with joy and excessive optimism and then there are those that are more melancholy and real with their sentiments. “Snow in Montana” feels like a lonesome spread of thick fresh snow looked at through sad eyes. It’s comforting and soft while lyrically addressing solitude and broken hearts.

Michigander is the Nashville-based project of musician Jason Singer. For his first Christmas song he has partnered up with some close musical buddies, Gabrielle Grace, Moony, and Abby Holliday, their voices harmonizing together. What starts as a simple piano backdrop builds into a snow globe of sombre Christmasy characteristics. – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Michigander: I love the holidays but I do think as I’m getting older they have lost a little bit of their charm. When you are young you have your vacations and dedicated time off from school to spend with friends and family. Once you get “old” it’s sometimes harder than you’d like to find that time to connect, especially if everyone lives in different places. But for the most part, I really enjoy the season. I think my favorite holiday song is “White Christmas” by The Drifters

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Michigander: I’ve always wanted to make my own holiday song. It felt very daunting as some of the most iconic tunes are based around the holidays so I asked some of my best friends to help me make it happen. We all tried to just make something that captures the spirit of the season in different ways and made sure it didn’t sound/feel like any holiday song that’s come before it.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Michigander: I think this song captures the feeling of having to drive back to your hometown for the holidays. It’s such a weird feeling having to go back home and sleep in your old bedroom. It’s sort of jarring. I think that’s often an overlooked feeling but one that a lot of people relate to.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Michigander: I think there are a lot of timeless songs out there for this time of year, but it’s nice once in a while to throw a new one in the rotation. I’m just trying to shake it up and capture some new feelings.



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:: Bishop Briggs ::

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The best holiday songs, in my opinion, are those that recognize the complexity of this special season: That it brings both highs and lows to everyone it touches – and that’s exactly what makes “Cheer” so utterly, undeniably beautiful. Bishop Briggs’ heartfelt new holiday song is upbeat, but not uninformed – and what the multi-platinum singer/songwriter accomplishes on this beautiful piano ballad/anthem is a striking sense of balance between light and darkness, joy and gloom.

When I lay my head dreaming in my bed
I will fly away to my favourite holiday
Green ribbon in my hair, laughter in the air
Snow falling down
If Christmas time is once a year
Then, all I want to do is spread some cheer
Spread some cheer
The blissful winter wonderland

“I wrote ‘Cheer’ to be a warm and comforting blanket this holiday season,” Briggs explains. “I have felt an immense importance with spreading joy amidst the darkness that can sometimes cloud my days. I hope this song brings that twinkle back into your eyes and an eagerness for some hot cocoa!”

Briggs surrounds the ears with soothing, seductive sonics and sweet images of family, togetherness, and owning the happiness that’s supposed to come to us alongside the holidays. It’s not always easy to find, and it’s seldom automatic, but the world she paints in song is one of familiar faces smiling with open, outstretched arms; of loved ones welcoming us into their homes and inviting us to relax, kick back, and stay awhile. “Cheer” is a song built on memories and emotions, and before Briggs is through, she’s tapped both of those wells in all those who listen. Without a doubt, this song serves its purpose well in spreading some “cheer” this time of year. – Mitch Mosk

Stars twinkle bright like tensile for the night
If cookies ain’t gone there’s always room for more
Red ribbon in my hair, laughter in the air
Snow falling down
If Christmas time is once a year
Then, all i want to do is spread some cheer
Spread some cheer
The blissful winter wonder land

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Bishop Briggs: I think my relationship with the holidays is a bit complex and it’s only become more so the older I’ve gotten. It’s like a warm soup of trauma, gift wrap, cheap chocolate and love! Sounds yummy. My favorite holiday song would have to be the version of “All I want for Christmas is You” that’s in the movie “Love Actually.” That gospel choir and the little girl singing her heart out? How can you not love it!?

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Bishop Briggs: It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I have always had a soft spot for nostalgia and something I grew up always looking forward to was when an artist would release a holiday song so it was time! When it came to making “Cheer” my own I included visuals from my own childhood in the verses and allowed any memories to be laced throughout.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Bishop Briggs: If you only listen to the instrumental you will hear tons of sleigh bells and footsteps in snow. It felt important to include those details because I think subliminally there’s something about those noises that exudes joy. Ultimately, that was my goal this holiday season.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Bishop Briggs: Well I hope that it brings that universal sense of togetherness. It’s been an isolating past few years and I am personally in dire need of some light so I would say this song carries that with it! I hope that “Cheer” is the song that brings us all to the fireplace filled with warmth and comfort.



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:: Stars ::

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Who better to put us in a wistful, pensive, and wondrous mood than Montreal’s Stars? Still fresh off the success of their cathartic, dreamy ninth album From Capelton Hill, the revered indie rock band waxes warm and poetic on “Christmas Anyway,”a refreshingly intimate, heavy-hearted, and poignant song that reckons with the harder aspects of the holidays. Yes, the easing of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns means we can gather together again, but that isn’t necessarily a welcome experience for everyone involved; for some of us, that distance was a welcome reprieve from the stress and politics of holidays with the family: “Two years since we made it, two years without the fight, two years without the endless game of trying to get it right,” Stars’ Torquil Campbell sings, joining forces with co-vocalist Amy Millan in a radiant, resonant chorus that brings all our seasonal anxiety and dissonance out into the open:

Nothing is the same 
And nothing can be
I’ll never understand you
And you’ll never understand me
So place the star atop the tree
And hope it makes us happy
Let’s hide it all and deck the hall
We’re having Christmas anyway

“In a world where the algorithm (and other horrible things) has made us all feel further apart, going home for the holidays isn’t easy for everyone,” Stars shared upon this song’s initial release. “What is it about these days that makes us feel we have to go home to face the loved ones we simply cannot ever be at peace with? We have no idea, but we do know that sometimes a simple song can get you through at least a few minutes of holiday hell. We hope this one does that for you. We love you all. Merry Christmas.”

We dress up in our best for the parade
And watch the past float by
Along with all the plans they made
stuck in this same town
Just Slowly growing old
We were never one of them you know
We will never come in from the cold
You always place yourself above me
No christian charity
Will make you love me
Let’s drink another toast tonight
And hope that we can make it right
Let’s all pretend 
we can be friends
And let’s have Christmas anyway.

For as bittersweet as this song nakedly is, we can’t help but feel seen, heard, and understood by Stars’ emotional lyrics and tender performance. The band ultimately leave listeners with a sense of connection in knowing we’re not alone in our feelings.

In the spirit of the season, Stars are also splitting the track’s proceeds with the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, which provides Indigenous women and their children a safe and supportive environment. – Mitch Mosk

I want to love you, I know you love me
I want to be here but you know I have to leave
Boxing Day arrives, we’re headed home now
The sky is grey, the air is cold
But we got through it somehow
Right before we left
y
ou turned to hold me
I let myself give into you
I let your love enfold me
Nothing is the same and nothing can be
I’ll never understand you 
And you will never understand me
But when it’s late on Christmas night
And you turn out the Christmas lights
I always fall, despite it all
I’m glad that we had Christmas anyway…

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Torquil Campbell: For me the holidays are defined by The Pogues, “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” cheese fondue, crying in my room, drinking in the morning, missing my dead dad, being extremely warm but too lazy to take my sweater off and sleeping on the sofa while other people argue about politics in the kitchen. In short, I love it. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Judy Garland, “Fairytale of New York,” “Joy” by Tracey Thorn, and the Vienna Boys Choir singing “Once In Royal David’s City.” Oh and “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly, of course.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Torquil Campbell: We are a band that people tend to go to when they’re upset, nostalgic, sad or broken. So we are a natural holiday band! And the world needed an honest Christmas song. We went about making it in midsummer, and it felt quite odd, but it also felt easy. Maybe we’ll do a whole album some time, who knows. Or a Hanukkah song. There’s not enough good Hanukkah songs.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Torquil Campbell: For a lot of people, the holidays are this annual attempt to be close to people, namely their families, that they actually have no affinity for. All of us getting together for another year in the depths of winter when traveling is hard and expensive and everyone has a cold is an act of forlorn hope. And this song is all about forlorn hope. It never works, but maybe this year, it will…

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Torquil Campbell: Darkness! Despair! Misunderstanding! And ultimately, forgiveness, love and even a tiny sliver of hope that next year, we will have the best Christmas ever.



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:: Laufey ::

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What needs to be said about this enchanting, dreamy track, that can’t already be felt in our bones? Los Angeles-based jazz artist Laufey has a way of wrapping our ears in rich, colorful textures while drenching our hearts in a beautiful array of soothing, soul-stirring sound, and “The Christmas Waltz” does all of that while capturing the magical mood of Christmas Eve.

“‘The Christmas Waltz’ perfectly captures the essence of Christmas for me,” Laufey shares. “My arrangement is inspired by Tchiakovsky’s Nutcracker with a waltzy texture, layers of cello and sleigh bells. The song was recorded with a children’s choir to truly capture the childlike happiness that the holidays bring!”

Those same “frosted window panes, candles gleaming inside” that we’re so used to hearing Frank Sinatra or Harry Connick, Jr. sing about take on an even more heated, intimate hue through Laufey’s gentle giant of a performance – one that’s further enhanced with a soft acoustic guitar accompaniment, glistening, wintry piano playing, those smoky, mesmerizing cellos, and a truly disarming children’s choir. If it’s that supernatural, magic holiday wonder you’re after, then look no further than Laufey’s rendition of “The Christmas Waltz.” – Mitch Mosk

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Laufey: I think the holiday season has always been really special to me because it’s a time where my family all gets together. Most of my family members live in different countries and cities so it’s special to have a time that we all get to be in one place. Some of my favorite holiday songs are Icelandic Carols – they just remind me of Christmases at home growing up in Iceland.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Laufey: Being a jazz singer, I’ve always felt that the holiday season is special because everybody starts to listen to jazz around the holidays so I definitely wanted to contribute to the library of christmas songs out there! I recorded the song with my producer Spencer Stewart in one day before my LA concert at his LA studio.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Laufey: We recorded a children’s choir for the song which I think perfectly captures the essence of the holidays. Innocent angelic voices in harmony! There are a couple of things that really capture the holiday spirit for me – Being with family, the smell of tangerines, the frosty bite in the air and the taste of icelandic Christmas cookies.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Laufey: A lot of Christmas songs nowadays try to take old holiday songs and put them in new costumes – I LOVE those songs but with my project I’ve tried my best to keep that timeless jazzy sound of Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald that reminds me most of the holidays!



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:: Switchfoot ::

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Snow, fireplaces, wooly hats and mittens are some of the images that form the clichés of a Christmas scene but we can’t forget that the period exists in all kinds of climates. “California Christmas” by Grammy Award winning band Switchfoot embraces the clichés of Californian life, things such as ‘twinkling lights on all the fake palm trees,’ ‘bathing suits in eighty-five degrees,’ ‘stuck in traffic on the 5’, surfboards, jacuzzis and blue skies, and puts them into a buoyantly festive song backed by jingling bells. “California Christmas” is taken from the band’s latest release, a collection of holiday songs entitled this is our Christmas album. – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What does the holiday season mean to you?

Jon Foreman: For each of us in the band, I’m sure the holidays hold different meaning. For me, music and Christmas will always go hand in hand. My earliest musical memories are tied to Christmas. I can picture it now: my family circled round my grandparents piano- singing carols and playing along as best we could on whatever was lying around- guitars, ukuleles, lap steels, harmonicas, or tambourines. We’d stumble through the Christmas carols smiling and laughing while my grandpa’s Lionel train ran circles round the Christmas tree.

And yet, these happy memories are juxtaposed with notes of melancholy and pain. Yes, ‘tis the season of joy and unity and giving, but it’s set against the backdrop of consumerist greed. Singing peace on earth with war on the tv screen. Celebrating the wonder and joy in my children’s eyes and wishing my that my grandparents were here to see it.

What was your vision going into Switchfoot's new record this is our Christmas album, and did that change over the course of recording this?

Jon Foreman: As a songwriter, Christmas is an emotional treasure chest to pull from. It’s a season stretched tight with contradictions: the incarnate God enters the world as a baby born into poverty on the edge of the Empire. We celebrate the free gifts of love and presence against the backdrop of materialist capitalism. It’s a time of year that brings up the best and the worst in us: cutting someone off on the freeway as we rush to get a gift for grandpa before the stores close. We wanted to dig beneath these contradictions to find a few Christmas tunes of our own.

We wanted a timeless album. Something that felt like it could have been recorded sometime between 1968 and 2022.

What inspired you to record your own holiday songs, and how did you go about making this album your own?

Jon Foreman: We wanted to make an album that was ours alone, while embracing a timeless sound. We were hoping to craft a true listening experience with layers to get lost in. The Christmas canon is filled with chords that harken back to bygone days. Chords that aren’t often used in alternative music. We took full advantage of the tonal palate and chordal landscape that Christmas can afford.

Aside from generally having no snow, what are the qualities of a California Christmas?

Jon Foreman: Truth! Where we live in San Diego, you have to drive a few hours if you want snow. Our Christmas tradition is surfing and decorating the local Christmas tree situated on the sand at our local beach.

How does this album capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Jon Foreman: Hmmmm… I suppose the “holiday spirit” might be a pretty obtuse target to aim for. And I’m sure it means something different to each of us. Our goal was to set the tone for a beautiful Christmas gathering. We wanted to capture the warmth of the fire, the smells of the meal, desert cider. The instrumentation we used for the album was an attempt to accompany a small gathering with friends.

Like the smell of a Christmas tree: reminding us of the past even while we’re in the present. Our aim was for an album that feels nostalgic and contemporary at the same time.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Jon Foreman: Yes, there are so many holiday songs out there! Almost a paralyzing amount, right?! There are so many songs that one might question, “what’s the use of writing anything new.” I suppose the same logic could be brought to bear upon the larger body of musical work over the ages. Or the human story altogether: There’s too much- just stop it already!

But when you think of your own personal perspective, it becomes much simpler. Don’t worry about the past. Don’t worry about the rest of the word. Stay in your lane. What’s your song? What keeps you up at night? What’s your story? What’s the song that no one else is singing?

As a songwriter I wanted to bring our own idiosyncratic perspective to bear upon the canon of holiday tunes. Scrappy Christmas Trees? Check. Avocado groves and graffiti kings? Yup. Midlife Christmas? Uh huh. sometimes I can’t stand myself and most times I wish I could be anyone else” or “singing peace on earth, when there’s war on the TV screen.” Hmmm… these lyrics won’t fit on any of the Christmas records I grew up with. lThese are songs that wrestle with Christmas and New Years from our own place. The lyrics are there for anyone who wants to dig a bit deeper than the veneer of a Christmas album.



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:: Rosie Thomas & Sufjan Stevens ::

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We Should Be Together” by Rosie Thomas begins with the heartbreaking dreaminess associated with a Sufjan Stevens touched song, delicate string-like ripples alongside softly coated vocals. The opening lines embody a cosiness as well, the imagery of the hand-knitted sweater representing lonely heartache: “Man why did I let you leave me alone in summer/ I should have known by fall I’d finally finish your sweater/ And now it’s lying here on my bed/ At night I wrap the arms around my waist/ Pretend it’s you instead / And cry into the shoulder.

The song was written by Thomas and Jeffrey Shoop and the knitted references continue throughout. As a festive track it’s subtle and calm with the jingling of bells in the background. It gives the impression of sitting by a window reflectively sipping on a mug of hot chocolate while snowflakes descend outside. – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Rosie Thomas: I’m pretty sentimental about the holidays. Growing up, we had huge Christmas Eve parties with my dad’s large family. Dad led singalongs. Grandpa Tony playing cards at the kitchen table. Faygo pop! Jello molds! Mom’s cocktail wieners in the crock pot! The smell of mom’s blue light special K-mart pine candles, the glow of the big bulbed Christmas lights on the snow that lit up the figure 8 maze tracks my brothers stomped out in their moon boots in the front yard. The anticipation of Santa coming and not peeking. I could barely sleep the night before. My brother Brian and I would stay up talking all night-listening to Christmas songs on the radio, and for some reason Dr. Ruth laughing our heads off in the bunk beds!

Plenty of rough Christmases too post childhood, which I also see as part of it. The holidays can be really hard for a lot of people at different times but there can still exist an extra spark of hope during the holidays, especially at Christmastime.

Now as a parent, I do go a little bananas making it feel magical for our kids. Not crazy presents, but crazy on fun and magic. I’m a Christmas Magic Banana. Maybe too much, but I do love doing it for them, especially while they’re still so little. Last year I felt like I got possessed by an elf. I couldn’t stop. Seeing their imaginations just run with it. I love watching them “believe.” Makes me kind of still believe too? I love all of that!

Favorite holiday songs are any by Nat King Cole, Amy Grants, Grown Up Christmas List, Do They Know It’s Christmas Time? by Band Aid, all of Sufjan’s of course, River by Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Comin To Town. Funny enough, Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year? One of the only songs of mine that our kids like and singalong to.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Rosie Thomas: I really love writing Christmas songs. It’s a challenge which direction do I go in? Sad ones can particularly be my go to. It wasn’t until my parents divorce that I realized there’s an element to the holidays that can also trigger sadness, loss, loneliness, mourning the past. Beautiful memories saturated by tears of joy and tears of sorrow.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Rosie Thomas: As it relates to the holiday spirit, this one is kind of about how the holidays are a marker for the year, a time of reflection, a time for hope and change, and new beginnings. Possibility that doesn’t always exist the same way during other parts of the year.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Rosie Thomas: Well this song is kind of an anytime-of-year-er, but sorta uses Christmas as a main plot point/setting in the story, or metaphor for continuing to try, and not give up – again more broadly, hope. I’m a feeler-of all things. I can hold both sorrow and joy at the same time rather easily – for better or worse.

The song started with my husband. He had the melody and arrangement and even the chorus. Together we worked on the verses. We’re a pretty great writing team, which just naturally came together over time, and has been really enjoyable. We finish eachother’s… sandwiches.

This song’s a beauty, and it was great having Sufjan hop in and make it even richer of course – the Christmas miracle himself, but I gotta say, I’m still waiting for the day that Mariah Carey will cover, “Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year?!” So our kids can retire already:)



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:: VOODOO RADIO ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

VOODOO RADIO: It’s a good time to meet up with people you haven’t seen all year isn’t it? We love the obvious classics, ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues & ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ by Slade. But ‘Don’t Shoot Santa’ by the Killers is fantastic, as is Girls Aloud’s version of ‘ I wish it could be Christmas Everyday’!! There are loads of great ones. We like anything with a jangly tambourine basically !!

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

VOODOO RADIO: We were wondering if the legendary stars of music who are no longer with us had musical instruments to play or if they didn’t, perhaps they’d write to Father Christmas to ask for one?

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

VOODOO RADIO: The song is about doing a “good deed for someone”, from the point of view of a little girl (Eve) who’s died and is making her way to Heaven when she bumps into Father Christmas who has a list of names and presents but no addresses. Eve realises these names belong to rockstars who have died and helps him out by delivering them herself.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

VOODOO RADIO: We’ve combined a rowdy Christmas singalong with a poignant story line as well as remembering some of our Rock “n” Roll heroes!



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:: Samara Joy ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Samara Joy: When I think of the holidays, images of my family and I gathered around in the living room, full of good food and singing in harmony, always come to mind. Some of my favorite holiday songs are “Joy to the World,” “Christmas Time is Here,” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Me.”

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Samara Joy: Recording my own holiday song serves as an expression of my love for the season and the joyful spirit that it invokes in all people who choose to celebrate. As far as making it my own, choosing a song like “Warm in December,” which hasn’t been recorded much, allows me to sing it without several other interpretations in my head. There are plenty of recordings of Christmas classics and this song could definitely fit into that same category.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Samara Joy: For me, it captures the holiday spirit by illustrating elements of the season that people think of the most: love, togetherness, and the brisk weather!

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Samara Joy: “Warm in December” brings a feeling of newness as well as familiarity to the table of holiday songs. While most listeners won’t immediately recognize the song, it still has the lighthearted, jovial vibe that all holiday songs carry. I’m so excited to reintroduce this song just in time for the holidays.



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:: Timothy Edward Carpenter ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Timothy Edward Carpenter: Christmas hymns such as “Silent Night” or “O Holy Night” resonate with me most, likely a result of the nostalgia I experience when I encounter them years after growing up in traditional church settings.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Timothy Edward Carpenter: Had you asked me a few years ago, I’d have told you ‘I’ll never write a Christmas song.’ Transparently, I’ve never had much of an attraction to holiday music, so to think I’ve written one of my own feels a tad disingenuous. This year, however, I couldn’t help it. With the holidays fast approaching, I began to feel an excitement for the festivities quickly followed by an anxiety-induced, hyper-fixation around the idea of tearing down the tree and putting the decorations back into boxes.

The idea of that particular feeling left me feeling empty and apprehensive. In roughly an hour, I scribbled down all the memories I could recollect both good and bad that embody the holiday season for me – it was at this point, I knew I had something I wanted to record.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Timothy Edward Carpenter: This song is littered with my memories. For example, my Grandmother, Gretel (though we call her Oma), hand-knits a stocking for each and every member of our family when they are born. It is a beautiful green and red oversized sock riddled with sequins, a likeness of Santa, and whomever’s name stitched across the top. Referencing such a personal tradition as this alongside the playful sleigh bells and cheerful gang vocals in the second chorus elicit a warm sense of holiday spirit for me. The song is incredibly personal to me, and equally a bit tragic I must admit. I have felt as though I’m simply coming to terms with my own finitude as of late and perhaps the byproduct has been an accidentally overtly existential catalogue.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Timothy Edward Carpenter: So many holiday songs are generally hinged on levity, focused primarily on promoting cheer and warmness. “annual trick,” on the other hand, pulls the rug out from under the listener a bit. The song is my attempt to reconcile my own annual quandary, “Does the joy of the experience outweigh the inevitable pain of the end?… Probably, but it still f**king hurts when the tree comes down.



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:: Valencia ::

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There are the songs that pretend that everything is sugary sweet and magical, there are those that turn sadness into comfort and then there are those that just say it how it is with blatant pessimism. “How Valencia Stole Christmas,” a new original Christmas song by punk rock band Valencia puts emphasis on the feelings of frustration around this period.

An intro of traditional bells disappears into a crash of guitars and drums before the opening line ‘Deck the halls with all your stupid bullshit/ It’s Christmas eve I’m still shopping I’m over it’ gets the message underway. ‘Fa la la la la la/ I hate Christmas time’ is spat at the end of the chorus as an infectious energy rushes throughout. However, nobody can escape the festivities, as underlined with the fast-paced ending of “FA LA LA LA FUCK/ I guess Christmas is fine.” – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Valencia: As is maybe evident in the lyrics of the song, it’s a love/hate relationship. As with many of us, the consumerism and exclusion of the holiday is always a bummer. But, if you just look at it like a great excuse to meet up with friends and family and take a break, It’s not so bad.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Valencia: When I Surrender told us they were putting together a compilation of holiday songs, we were pretty psyched, but also were unsure on how it would go since we’d never written a holiday song. However, the day we agreed to be a part of it the song just sort of poured out. Melody, vibe, chords and even lots of the lyrics. Then we sort of started to do some zooms and calls brainstorming ideas for lyrics, which was so fun. We came up with the most insane examples of how the holidays are such a paradox. You should see what was on the cutting room floor.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Valencia: We really tried to capture the feeling of being lonely and outcast during the holidays when there’s so much pressure to feel good and be ‘merry’ or whatever. We wanted to paint those images of despair and strangeness that go along with it and really show what it’s all about. Like a mall Santa eating his chick-fil-a lunch in the food court. Lots to unpack there, but it pretty much sums it all up in our opinion.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Valencia: I’d say there are too many Christmas songs that get repeated forever and ever and really are nauseating to hear every year. I love to hear something refreshing and we wanted to harken back to the punk rock Christmas songs that we grew up with. I think we achieved that and hope people agree.



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:: Elizabeth Moen ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Elizabeth Moen: I enjoy the holiday season. I wasn’t raised very religiously but my family always celebrated Christmas as a way to bring each other together. As an adult, the holidays can bring up old ways and dynamics though. I’ve always loved Holiday music. “Blue Christmas” is my favorite by far! Anything from A Charlie Brown Christmas is a classic too. Bruce’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”!

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Elizabeth Moen: I wanted to capture a moment that happened to me and I think many others during a trip back home for the holidays. Someone from my past tried to reconnect and as hard as it is to not be in each other’s lives, it is for the best and trying to talk again just isn’t good for either of us. Home for the holidays can be so great and also so sad. I wanted to capture a song that hopefully brought up both of those feelings, or rather, permits a listener to feel all parts of the spectrum of emotions the holidays can bring up. My bandmates in Ireland and I tried to capture a holiday vibe in the verse lyrics and with the production (jingle bells and guitar solos that highlight older, famous holiday songs).

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Elizabeth Moen: The production and melody bring the spirit of fun times and the lyrics tap into the honest, hard part of the holidays. Pretending to be okay around family and friends is hard. It’s okay to take a moment to yourself and be like, “Okay, I am a person who has grown, is growing, and will continue to. Old mistakes, old habits, old connections, don’t have to control me or my future anymore.”

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Elizabeth Moen: It brings a vulnerability and hopefully a space for all feels to be felt. The holidays are happy! And sometimes sad! Why not let yourself feel both? This song also touches on addiction. The holidays are a very hard time for mental health. I want people to know that they are going to be okay. I just want people to have a safe space when listening to this song while they’re driving home, on a walk in their old neighborhood, getting groceries at their old store and potentially running into people.



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:: Vika & Linda ::

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Vika & Linda are an Australia duo who have been singing together in the music scene since the 1980s where they started as backing singers for The Black Sorrows. Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas is their eighth studio album together and the collection of Christmas covers is fun, lively, and retro in feel. The title track, their version of the Carla Thomas classic, emits joyfulness with the 60s vibes intensified to evoke the timelessness that can come with holiday songs. – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Vika & Linda: We love the holiday season. It’s summer here in Australia and it’s a precious time that we spend over Christmas at the beach with our family, feasting on all sorts of home-made treats, swimming, lazing about and taking turns blasting out our favourite songs for all our poor neighbours to hear. It’s a mixed bag of old and new, traditional and pop songs like Oh Little Town of Bethlehem to Darlene Love’s Baby Please Come Home, oh and Mariah’s big hit! We all sing along to that.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Vika & Linda: We wanted to make a record that was fun. A record you can put on first thing in the morning to dance to while you’re preparing Christmas lunch. We went about making these songs our own in the way we sang them and with our harmonies because that’s what we love to do, harmonise together.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Vika & Linda: It captures the holiday spirit because it is fun. We look forward to this time of year. Everyone we love is together and we get to let our hair down as a family. School has finished, exams are over, work for our family has stopped and we can all celebrate the end of another year.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel Gee Whiz, It's Christmas brings to the table?

Vika & Linda: It’s a record of songs we love. Not too traditional, just a fun record of our versions by artists we love.



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:: Thomas Day ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Thomas Day: “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” has always been a Christmas tradition for my family and it’s one of my family’s favorites. Growing up, my parents always had Elvis, Stevie Wonder and other Christmas classics playing during the holiday season. My family is very close and I, as the youngest of the siblings, was always trying to make them laugh and sing.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Thomas Day: I’ve always loved the holidays and felt like it would be cool to do a holiday song for my parents. We always have music playing around the holidays at home, so why not give them one of my songs to play this year? My family inspired this one and I used my fond memories with them to influence the recording.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Thomas Day: It brings back memories from the holiday season when I was growing up. It’s just one of those songs that was always playing.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Thomas Day: I’m not sure, but with the Elvis movie coming out last year and it being a track that my family always had playing as one of our faves, I felt like it would be a great tribute to him and to my family!



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:: Alessia Cara ::

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Originally released in 2019, “Make it to Christmas” by Alessia Cara is a typical pop song with the festivities sparkling like tinsel. In it she sings about an unstable relationship, a bounce in her step as she projects hopefulness heading towards Christmas day. The song features on Def The Halls, a compilation album by Def Jam Recordings released this year which consists of originals and covers performed by the label’s artists. – Francesca Rose



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:: grentperez ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

grentperez: My relationship with the holidays is very strong. I’d say I still hold quite a traditional method of celebration by spending it with the family at a wholesome gathering. A few favourite tracks would be: I’ll Be Home For Christmas, White Christmas, Please Come Home For Christmas, The Christmas Song.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

grentperez: I’ve always dreamt of making a Christmas song and making my dent in the seasonal playlist, haha. I’m surprised at how well the song came to be, I wrote it all in my bedroom just thinking about how excited I am for the celebration to come and all the feelings that come with it. It was definitely a challenge but I think I did a pretty ok job nonetheless.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

grentperez: I think the song is very wholesome, the mentions of mistletoe and magic come hand in hand to convey the romantic, yet family friendly nature of the season while the chorus brings the joyful mood together.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

grentperez: I hope that the song is a breath of fresh air in the mix of Christmas songs, giving a taste of holiday classics by hitting that bossa nova and orchestral feel. I’d also like to swoon the audience with my melodic flow and sweetly sung lyrics.



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:: Mother Mother ::

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“Cry Christmas” by Mother Mother is haunting, dark, and humorous in a dry way. Traditional cosy scenes are swapped for a Tim Burton style ambiance, an eerie house inhabited by misfits, and the typical colour scheme of red, white and green is replaced with black and grey. ‘The little ones are all but shunned at that strangely degrading kids table, the mistletoe says, “No, you don’t need a kiss, you need divorce papers”’ goes the beginning, frontman Ryan Guldemond releasing the words in husky, storytelling voice.

The chorus, with the recognizable addition of members Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin, is harmonious and ghostly, the lyrics ‘It’s just a/ ‘Nother try not to cry at Christmas/ And when I tell my eyes/ “Don’t you cry, it’s Christmas!”/ What do they do?/ Oh/They monsoon’ flickering like candles in the night. Towards the end there is a heavy metal style instrumental with the shouts of ‘Cry/ Cry, Christmas/ Cry, cry, at Christmas’ blending into the noise, adding to the unconventionality of the Christmas song.

“Cry Christmas” has been released alongside a cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” a haunting lullaby for if Christmas eve/ day was the subject of a lighthearted horror film. – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Ryan Guldemond: I like the idea of it, but it’s no wonder that it’s a hard time for many: overspending, overeating, overdrinking, and then you have all the family triggers. I wish it was more restful and less stressful for people. The Pogues’ “Fairy Tale of New York” is definitely the best Christmas song of all time.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Ryan Guldemond: Making Christmas music is an idea that labels love, for playlisting etc. And I get that. It’s called the music “business” for a reason, but to be honest I cringe a little when I hear everyone turning out saccharine Yuletide renditions, so this was our way of pushing against that, while also appeasing the demand.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Ryan Guldemond: Well as mentioned, I think the holiday season is rife with dysfunction. Writing “Cry Christmas” was an effort to honour that side of the experience, a side we feel is not sung about so much.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Ryan Guldemond: I think we touched on some serious and pertinent dilemmas right now: substance abuse, political divisions and environmental issues, while being quite playful and cheeky about it. Musically, it’s both nostalgic and modern, blending a number of genres. I can’t think of another Christmas song quite like it.



:: Joss Stone ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Joss Stone: I love this time of year. I wait for that moment when it’s just cold enough to take that first crisp breath of air as the leaves fall off the trees. I can literally smell Christmas is coming. I love it! It’s so nostalgic. Bringing back all sorts of magical memories.

In particular, how did you go about making your two original songs?

Joss Stone: I had no intention of recording original songs as I always had no interest as a listener. I just wanted to hear the oldies but goodies! But I was encouraged by the label to write and in the end I agreed to try. It was exciting and daunting to record two of my own songs to accompany the classics. The bar is so high . Of course there is a fear of failure when trying to pen something worthy of such a position. I have to say I’m glad I tried cos I’ve ended up loving both of those songs. Hopefully they will bring people a lot of joy.

''If You Believe'' and ''Bring on Christmas Day'' are both special songs, but approach the holiday from very different perspectives. How does each of these songs capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Joss Stone: “If You Believe” is a song I wrote for my children with a view to explaining to them what Christmas is all about. The magic and the wonder is all around if you let it be. With the story of Polar Express in mind, my partner Cody introduced me to this movie just 2 years ago believe it or not, the magic of the story is that if you believe then so shall it be.

“Bring on Christmas Day” is really for everyone that’s had enough of the year that has passed and just can’t wait to get to something good. If you’ve lived long enough you’ve probably had a rough Christmas Day or two at some point. I was thinking of those that won’t be home for Christmas this year and how important it is to hold on to the ones we love so tightly because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. This time of year reminds us of that. It’s a time to celebrate and let go.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Joss Stone: Hopefully people will enjoy the feeling they get when listening to them. We all loved recording them so all I can do is hope that translates and turns up in the listener’s ears. That’s what music is all about. The proof is in the pudding at the end of the day.



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:: PANTōNE VU ::

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PANTôNE VU is the project of two musicians exploring the concept of chromesthesia, a type of synesthesia where sound evokes specific colours. Their festive EP Fa La La La Lofi is a continuation of this and, alongside “White Winter Hymnal,” “Green Sleeves” and “Rudolph Red” is “Elvis Blue.”

Elvis Blue” is an interpretation of “Blue Christmas” that’s atmospheric, lo-fi (of course) and hypnotic. Vocals are removed thus giving attention to electronic plops, melancholic riff, and slow based jingling. If the song conjures up the colour blue, it’s that of a picturesque icy lake or ski slopes under a radiant blue sky and with it we glide along tranquilly. – Francesca Rose

Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

PANTōNE VU: Two words: EGG NOG. Or maybe that’s only one word? A&K love Essen und Trinken, so OF COURSE we have a non-exclusive yet intense relationship with the holidays. We aren’t above licking that last ooze of Vacherin Mont D’or from its spruce wrapping. Or stepping up the Brussel sprouts with a healthy dose of Vij’s Naughty and Tangy Masala.

“Blue Christmas” OBVI— if it’s good enough for the King, it’s good enough for us. Esquivel — “Jingle Bells.” Sufjan Steven’s takes on “Coventry Carol” and “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light.” Any track from Harry Belafonte’s To Wish You A Merry Christmas, but if pressed, let’s spin “Mary, Mary” and toast A’s pops. And for the obligatory extended family gathering, Phoebe Bridgers and Jackson Browne doing Dan McCarthy. Cuz you don’t have to be alone to be lonesome.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

PANTōNE VU: Admittedly the tower of holiday songs is FULL TO CAPACITY. But why not ferchrissakes? Why not one more song with sleigh bells? But how many of them have SWAGGER? We told the tailor to take out the seams on this one cuz we’re gonna’ have another fried peanut butter and cranberry sandwich if it kills us.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

PANTōNE VU: Capture? We duct taped this one with last year’s tinsel, candy cane sugar rush and regret.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

PANTōNE VU: Egg nog. Roast turkey with molé sauce and a side of mischief. Pommes Dauphine. Brussel sprouts with cashews, paneer and garam masala. Egg nog. And hey, Christmas is a time to chill, and nothing says chill like a lofi Christmas playlist….



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:: nobody likes you pat ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

nobody likes you pat: I have pretty mixed emotions about the holiday season. On the positive side, Christmas is particularly tied to my faith, so there is deep meaning and implication around that. On the negative side, however, I grew up in a broken home, spending certain holidays with my mom and some with my dad. The mental strain that those uncertainties have on a child last long into adulthood and create tension around a season that most people would consider joyful and light. Forming new traditions with my wife and my kids has allowed for some healing.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

nobody likes you pat: I’ve always said I would never record one. I think they can be incredibly cheesy. Typically, the only type of Christmas music I am interested in listening to are the old hymns and classical arrangements. But when I was encouraged to bring my own stories to the table, I thought I might be able to do something unique with a tired trope. Taking on the trauma of divorce within a Christmas song might not be very jolly, but I know that there are many people who feel the same way I do or may be going through it right now. They need to hear that this isn’t fair to them, and this isn’t how it is supposed to be.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

nobody likes you pat: I mean, it’s honest. I’d say it’s an “anti-Christmas song” song. It’s not anti in the sense of the purpose of the holiday, but anti of the standard clichés and expectations. But I think it captures a reality that, for many people who have been damaged by dysfunctional families, might allow people to feel seen.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

nobody likes you pat: It will not put you in the holiday spirit, because it holds no punches. But what I hope it will do is allow people to grieve their loss, sit with the pain, and ultimately realize that they were wronged. Because no one deserves that heartache during the most wonderful time of the year.



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:: Moonalice ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Lester Chambers: The holiday season is really important to my family and I as it is that time of the year to laugh and share memories, listen to some heart warming music and celebrate with some delicious soul food. I am really fond of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis kinda holiday sound.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Lester Chambers: Well as The Chambers Brothers we originally wrote “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” as a funky holiday song since there wasn’t anything really like that at the time. Now with Moonalice we felt recording the song would be a fun holiday hit!

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Lester Chambers: The jammin’ groove makes you wanna move and puts a smile on your face. The song makes ya feel like Christmas morning with a cup of cocoa opening up a present from Santa!

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Lester Chambers: Most holiday songs stick to the same classic sound. This is a whole different thing – this jingle is a hook, and you could almost play it all year long!



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:: Jhené Aiko ::

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Wrap Me Up” by Jhené Aiko is a subtler take on a Christmas song, gentle, smooth and filled with intimacy. It’s genuine kisses under mistletoe and embracing the priceless gift of romance. The song first appeared in 2012, and was remastered in recent years with added Christmasy touches. This year it also appears on Def Jam Records’ compilation album Def The Halls. – Francesca Rose



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:: The Aquadolls ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Melissa Brooks: The weather is cooling down in Los Angeles and it finally is starting to feel like the seasons are changing! Between switching from cold to hot drinks and wearing a hoodie more often, the holidays are both a time to celebrate the people you love and watch cheesy holiday movies on television. My favorite holiday tune is definitely “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. That song can come on in the middle of July and everyone will start singing and dancing!

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Melissa Brooks: We covered The Waitresses “Xmas Wrapping” to take a more punk rock spin on the 80s classic holiday dance tune. By adding uptempo drums, distorted guitars, and a funky bassline, we made it so listeners can open up a mosh pit at the local holiday function.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Melissa Brooks: The holidays can be both a time of excitement showing appreciation for loved ones, but it can also be an extremely stressful time of the year. “Christmas by myself this year” shows that it’s important to take a beat and show some love for yourself, especially during a harsh winter season.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Melissa Brooks: If listeners want to start a circle pit or need a guitar-driven sassy winter tune to help them beat the blues, we hope you’ll dance to our version! We hope that our cover tune can help you let loose and throw down some crazy dance moves to help de-stress this holiday season.



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:: The High Court ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

John Browne: I’ve always enjoyed the holiday season when I was growing up. My parents were divorced when I was very young, so I got double-Christmas. Parents buy more gifts when they feel guilty about their divorce. Lol. My mom was an avid baker, and throughout the entire month of December, my entire house smelled like cookies. We would get a month of cookies, and then it would end with a day of receiving gifts in various family member’s houses. Not too shabby for a little chubby kid!

As an adult, it’s much more difficult to enjoy the holidays because there are so many people who are struggling. When you’re aware of it, it quickly takes the joy out of everything. Some of these big chain stores make BILLIONS during Q4. I don’t want to wear goofy sweaters and buy gimmick gifts that end up in the trash. It’s like a giant celebration of waste. I imagine that if we put that money towards fixing problems within our own towns, we could put a pretty nice dent in homelessness, poverty, education, and a ton of other areas. I don’t want to sound unrealistic, but there’s just so much money flowing towards billionaires when it should stay local. My girlfriend and I have been buying our gifts locally to help small businesses, and we also take little trips around town to buy homeless folks food, coffee, or even beers. We don’t have the power to “save” anyone, but when we have an opportunity to make someone feel cared about or respected for a few minutes, it’s pretty rewarding in ways that nothing else really provides.

I don’t have any favorite holiday songs that aren’t on this comp!!! THIS IS THE GREATEST BATCH CHRISTMAS SONGS TO EVER EXIST. BUY IT! 

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

John Browne: I’ve talked to Rob a few times about wanting to release new music with The High Court, so he asked if we’d like to be a part of it. None of the original members played on this track, but Pete Grossman from the band High Priest played guitar with me, Pete Zen from Jet Jag played drums, and Justin Humenik from Cheer Up Dusty has a guest vocal part in the bridge. Pete Grossman was in the band 2*Sweet, and it was collectively our favorite band when we were touring back in 2007. It was super awesome to have him involved. Pete Zen is an artist/producer from South Jersey, and he’s just constantly making great shit. I’ve always wanted to work with him on something, and I thought this would be a good moment. For the exact same reasons, I had Justin Humenik from the band Cheer Up Dusty do some guest vocals in the bridge of our song. They all deserve more light. Everyone should go buy some Cheer Up Dusty merch so Justin can give his kids a better Christmas!

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

John Browne: It’s a song about hyper-capitalism and the effects it has on our country. Christmas makes everyone act like assholes, and for what?? Gifts?? Lol. It makes the roads awful. Everyone is miserable. The spirit is already lost! I believe that the song captures those sentiments. We could all burn it down together… Idk, maybe next Christmas!

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

John Browne: Not much, if I’m being honest. I was just having some fun and trying to include friends. It’s a goofy little song that essentially amounts to a private screaming session away from the stress of the holidays. Some folks will probably cringe. Lol. I don’t expect this song to unite humanity in favor of Wall Street’s destruction or anything productive like that. I still think people should get their kids gifts and participate in whatever makes them happy, but I saw a friend talking about giving her kids an “experience-based” Christmas, and I think that’s pretty fucking cool. If the song makes ANYONE reconsider what they do with their money or their time, it’s a win.



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:: dee holt ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

dee holt: The holidays have always been a really big thing in my family. Every year we have our traditions and routines, filled with family suppers, gift giving, games and food. I absolutely love holidays. I love the snow, the quality time, the food, giving gifts, the activities, shopping and creating gifts… everything about it. Most of all, I love how it brings everyone closer.

I have sooo many favorite songs… here’s a little list: White Christmas and Its Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas by Bing Crosby, Mistletoe by Justin Beiber, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra, Come out and Play by Billie Eilish and Santa Baby by Michael Bublé!

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

dee holt: The Christmas single was an opportunity that was given to me and so I took it. I was so so excited to work on this project. I was also a little intimidated, given there is a sea of so many amazing and iconic Christmas songs out there. Going into this, I didn’t know how I wanted the track to sound, but I did know that I didn’t want to recreate a cover that had already been done dozens of times or try to fall into certain Christmas sound. I wanted to be a little different. I inspired myself from Billie’s Christmas single, Come out and Play. My single We’ll Be Alright doesn’t sound like every other Christmas song, but that’s what I love about it. It makes it special.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

dee holt: The song is basically about not being able to be with a loved one or partner during the holiday season. I feel that people could interpret it in any sense that they want, whether it be not being able to be with a friend, a grandparent, a parent, a family member or a partner. As I mentioned before, family is one of the most important parts of Christmas and so I wanted to write a song about how things aren’t the same when someone you love isn’t there. It’s a feeling that most people need to go through during the holidays and so I wanted to express that.

I hope that my song makes people want to sing along. I hope that it makes people smile. I wish that people listen to it and feel grateful for those that they have around them during the Christmas season or to remember and think of those who aren’t.



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:: Taylor Ashton ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Taylor Ashton: I have a complicated relationship with Christmas music and the whole atmosphere of the season. I really cherish the cozy feeling of a great Christmas song, but I think it’s a fascinating and strange part of Western culture to have this whole catalog of songs that we lock away for 80 percent of the year, and then for this period of a couple months we completely bombard ourselves with it. It can definitely be too much of a good thing, kind of like chocolate, you get a sickly feeling after a while if you have too much. But there are definitely some undeniable jams!

“Silent Night” is one of the most beautiful melodies ever composed. 200 years old and still one of the best!
“This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway is so sexy and comes out swinging with this awesome rhyme scheme: “Hang all the mistletoe / I’m gonna get to know you better.” I love an uneven rhyming structure like that.

And then I love the whole crop of songs that don’t even mention Christmas and are just about getting cozy. “Let it Snow!,” “I’ve got my love to keep me warm,” “Sleigh Ride.” Getting cozy is one of life’s great joys.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Taylor Ashton: A really good friend of mine took me aside a number of years ago and said “If I have one criticism for you, it would be that I don’t think you believe in yourself enough”. It stung to hear that, but they were definitely picking up on something. I was in a phase of writing a lot of songs but feeling really sheepish to share them. I yearned to share what I was working on, but struggled with feeling good enough. My old band had dissolved a few years earlier and I was still getting used to the idea of releasing music under my own name; it felt vulnerable and I wasn’t sure I was up for it. So the refrain of “I don’t believe in myself” came first, and because I was writing in mid-December, it felt right to pivot to write it about Santa Claus. I guess that pivot was kind of a defense mechanism, but the song is really my own self-doubt dressed up in a Santa costume. Although I don’t have any tasks on my plate as gargantuan as “fly around the world and visit every child in the span of one night”, I definitely have periods of my life where smaller tasks can seem just as impossible as that.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Taylor Ashton: The holiday season brings a lot of festivity but it can also carry a lot of pressure. Because of all this messaging about good tidings and cheer, I think it’s very possible to feel a sense of failure if you’re not in that mood, which can turn into a spiral really fast. You end up not only feeling down, but you get down on yourself for feeling down, and it can be hard to climb out of that, especially with smiling nutcrackers and jaunty music mocking you from every angle. So it’s not the holiday spirit in the traditional sense, but it’s the flip side of the coin. I think amongst the songs that just celebrate the joy of the season it’s good to know that others might also be struggling to keep their spirits high.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your songs bring to the table?

Taylor Ashton: I don’t know of too many songs that attempt to humanize and explore the inner feelings of Santa Claus. So many Christmas stories feature a character struggling to get into the spirit, and at the end of the story, the true meaning of Christmas is regained and everybody’s smiling. This song doesn’t have quite as tidy of an ending; it serves more to just give people (myself included!) permission to just feel depleted and down because that’s just what some days are like, holidays or not. Sometimes just feeling seen and heard can be more helpful than being offered a solution.

And I know this isn’t the first holiday song ever to have clawhammer banjo on it, but I think the world can always use more of that.



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:: Oliver Hazard ::

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Atwood Magazine: What is your relationship with the holidays and the holiday season? What are some of your favorite holidays songs?

Oliver Hazard: Growing up in the Midwest, the holidays are about as bittersweet as the seasonal change of the weather. For some of us in the band, holidays can be a priceless yet complicated time of year, a time of loneliness and a time to get together with family. So we wanted to remake a holiday classic that elicited the highs and lows of the winter months. The three of us have different holiday song preferences, but typically we all enjoy songs written in the late 60s and 70’s, holiday songs from The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, The Eagles, Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, etc.

What inspired you to record your own holiday song, and how did you go about making it your own?

Oliver Hazard: This is actually the first holiday song that we’ve gone about transposing and recording. We wanted to blend vintage uplifting instrumentation of bells, whistles, and ukulele, with a fairly somber vocal tone. The vintage ambiance was actually captured by recording the motor of a 1970’s air organ. You can hear it switch on and off at the beginning and end of the song.

How does your song capture the holiday spirit or season, for you?

Oliver Hazard: By transforming “Winter Wonderland” the way we did, we think it elicits the feeling of spending a winter in the Midwest, the beauty of a harsh winter, the beauty of a changing season, all the while staying true to one’s emotions at that time of year.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel your song brings to the table?

Oliver Hazard: We think this song brings simplicity and raw realism to a myriad of holiday songs that have come before us.

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Mistletones: 2022's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 1

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Mistletones: 2022's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 2

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Mistletones: 2022's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 3

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Mistletones by Atwood Magazine

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Atwood Magazine's Mistletones listen to MISTLETONES on Spotify Atwood Magazine's Mistletones



2021's Best New Holiday Songs

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2020's Best New Holiday Songs

:: MISTLETONES ::

2019's Best New Holiday Songs

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2018's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. I

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2018's Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. II

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