Atwood Magazine Presents Mistletones: 2022’s Best New Holiday Songs, Pt. 2

Atwood Magazine's Mistletones 2022, Pt. 2
Atwood Magazine's Mistletones 2022, Pt. 2
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

I miss Christmas at your house
Making fuzzy angels in the snow
My name sounds better in your mouth
Warm from coffee under the mistletoe
Oh, cars and buses take me places
But I miss home
Trains and faces, smiles are fading
I just miss home
November’s all year long now
December never came
I realize I’m alone now
But they all think I’m the same
November…
– “novembre,” November Ultra

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. “I miss Christmas at your house, making fuzzy angels in the snow. My name sounds better in your mouth, warm from coffee under the mistletoe,” we hear in “novembre,” the hauntingly beautiful new song from French singer/songwriter November Ultra. Johnnyswim’s buoyant revelry “Don’t Make Me Wait” – a romantic Christmas love song if ever there was one – feels like an instant classic with its tender, heartwarming message: “Every year it goes like this, holidays get more intense, but, when it comes down to it I just want to be near you,” Amanda Sudano Ramirez and Abner Ramirez sing together. “Everybody’s got their list, but make mine easy: Be my gift.

Whether we’re basking in the festive bliss of songs like Kennedy Stephens’ smile-inducing “Everyday,” Isla Croll’s captivating “Please Come Back for Christmas,” and Robby Johnson’s soaring “Oh! Santa, Please,” rocking out to heavier rock and punk tunes like Pollyanna’s passionate, hard-hitting “Christmas Garbage” and Punchline’s immersive singalong “Together,” or dreaming away the hours with sweetly stirring serenades like the aforementioned spellbinding “novembre,” Litany’s “Die Hard (Is a Christmas Film),” and Ben Zaidi’s “I Don​’​t Feel Like Going Home for Christmas,” 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 16 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 1 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 November Ultra, Kennedy Stephens, Ben Zaidi, Johnnyswim, Crowder, Isla Croll, Pollyanna, Havanna Winter, Litany, Mattstagraham, The Collection, Sara Noelle, Punchline, Robby Johnson, Twinnie, and Terry Emm!

Dive into these songs and our holiday interviews!

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:: November Ultra ::

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Following the release of her captivating and delicately intimate debut album bedroom walls, French singer/songwriter November Ultra has put out an equally delicate song to coincide with the festive period. Entitled “novembre,” it’s a song that encapsulates the coldness of winter, when the days feel long, dreary and lonely. It’s also an addressing of longing and home comforts, things that can feel intensified during the Christmas period especially if spending it away from loved ones.

cars and buses
take me places
but i miss home
trains and faces
smiles are fading
i just miss home
november’s all year long now
december never came
i realize i’m alone now
but they all think i’m the same

“Novembre” begins with muffled laughter intertwined with plucks of guitar, which could replicate faint memories flickering through the head before the whispery melodic vocals traverse like a misty breeze. It was written during a “She is the Music” writing camp with Swedish songwriter, producer and musician Kerstin Ljungström. As November Ultra explains, “’novembre’ was therapy, a way for me to understand and verbalise what I was feeling and going through, the fuite en avant that is this amazing magical life I lead but also the saudade and longing I feel for home.” – Francesca Rose

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

November Ultra: It’s a holiday I used to love when I was younger because it was the only time in the year where I could get reunited with my Spanish and Portuguese Family in France. I’d spend weeks planning presents for everyone, shopping, checking what we could eat at dinner. When I became an adult, it became a really sad moment in my year because no one wanted to do it anymore now that we weren’t children they didn’t see the big deal in it and I was always the only one trying to really make something out of that night. After a while, I gave up. So I have this sweet and sour feeling towards it.

One of my first memories was one night at Christmas, my mom making us leave a glass of milk and cookies for Santa and his raindeers, trying to stay awake to see them, reading the letters he wrote to us the next morning and believing it, opening up the present of course, but I remember the sense of wonder I had with the fact that he had answered our letter, I’ll never forget how I felt, the magic. I’m very thankful my mom went to all this trouble for us, it’s sad growing up that we don’t believe in that kind of magic anymore and I feel like the closest I always come to believing in magic is during Christmas season and their “Christmas miracle.”

My favourites are the obvious Queen of Christmas Mariah Carey “All I want for Christmas is you” but also Wham’s “Last Christmas”, S Club 7 “Perfect Christmas” is a staple in my Christmas mixtape, with Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”, “Sister Winter” by Sufjan Stevens”, “River” by Joni Mitchell, “I wish it was Christmas today” by Julian Casablancas, “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano and so on… I could go like this for hours.

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

November Ultra: I wasn’t set into recording a “holiday song” it sort of *happened*, Kerstin Ljungström was playing the guitar and I sang, right away, and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “I miss Christmas at your house, making fuzzy angels in the snow” and then we pulled the rest of the song like a little ball of yarn. Making it my own was easy just because it mirrored exactly what I was going through at that time: being on tour a lot, missing home, my family, feeling like November (Ultra) takes too much space in my life sometimes, writing the chorus felt poetic in that sense because November meant the Artist-me but obviously the month. “November’s all year long now / December never came” – November’s a month that everyone loathe, except people born in November (like me hehe) and December symbolises the end of the year, the reunion with our loved ones, the holidays where we can finally rest, eat good meals.

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

November Ultra: There’s a sense of longing in it, sadness wrapped up in warmth, nostalgia of home also the idea of travel, of trying to get somewhere, to someone…

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

November Ultra: I don’t know if I bring anything more to the table than what I try to bring with all my songs: vulnerability and honesty in sharing my personal feelings, emotions, heartaches, joys, hoping they’ll resonate into someone else’s and help them make sense of what they’re going through or feeling those emotions. That’s the main thing for me with every song I write. What has been beautiful about this one is how connected it’s been making me feel to others who are or feel as lonely, or feel as displaced and too far away from home.



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:: Kennedy Stephens ::

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A smile-inducing standout taken off Def Jam’s recently released Def the Halls holiday compilation, Kennedy Stephens’ song “Everyday” revels in the warmth and wonder of being in love, embracing that passion and how it mirrors the allure and effervescence of the holiday season. “Everyday is a holiday, ’cause it feels like Christmas with you,” Stephens sings in the chorus, her voice a beacon of radiant light. “And my life, you make it right, ’cause I feel like Christmas every time I’m with you.” “Everyday” is the perfect soundtrack for celebrating and commemorating the moments that become our fondest memories. It’s a reminder that the holiday spirit is not exclusive to December; that we can find merriment and joy all year round, especially when we’re with our own special someone. – Mitch Mosk

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

Kennedy Stephens: The holiday season has always been my favorite. It’s very special to me because around this time I get to see a lot of my family from the East coast, whom I don’t get to see often. We get to bond and connect and make even more special memories together. So, I love the holidays – it’s cold, and I love cold weather. I like the music, the scenery, the way the city lights up – it’s just beautiful to see. Some of my favorite Christmas songs are “This Christmas” by Chris Brown, and I absolutely love “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. How could you go through the holiday season without listening to these two songs? You can’t! It’s impossible.

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

Kennedy Stephens: Creating “Everyday” was so much fun. It was so amazing being in the studio creating that song. Naturally, I think you get a little intimidated when creating a Christmas song because there are so many classics and so many established Christmas songs out there. But, I think what makes the song special is that you can listen to it any time of the year. It’s a song about not needing any special day to enjoy the time you have together with the ones you love. It makes the song very special.

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

Kennedy Stephens: The holiday season is about spending time with your loved ones. Your friends and your family, and people that genuinely love you and care about you. “Everyday” captures that whole vibe and it captures spending time with your loved ones because time is so valuable. It’s irreplaceable and doesn’t last forever, so it’s important to let people know that you love them and appreciate them.

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

Kennedy Stephens: Even with so many holiday songs out there, I feel that “Everyday” brings a youthful, yet mature, and fresh energy. Even on the most random day, it makes you want to grab the person you love and sing every lyric while looking into their eyes. The energy of the track is just undeniable and I’m so honored to have a track to celebrate one of the most special times of the year.



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:: Ben Zaidi ::

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Released in mid-October, “I Don’t Feel Like Going Home for Christmas” by Ben Zaidi is a raw and melancholic Christmas song that doesn’t coat things in glitter and sugary energy and instead addresses the realities. ‘Holidays don’t always mean forgiveness/ When there’s eggshells over every inch of floor’ he explains in his tender, emotion-driven voice while pondering pessimistically in the chorus ‘Christmas tree, why did they take you out the woods/ And put you here, dying in front of us.’

So I’m out here, skating on the distance
Hanging up the mistletoe myself
I don’t think I’m going home for Christmas
cause i can’t bear to talk to no one else

With “I don’t Feel Like Going Home for Christmas,” The Seattle born and raised singer-songwriter can come across as a killjoy but sonically there’s a comforting gentleness and dreamy melody that places the song snuggly into the festive period. Like with the rest of Ben Zaidi’s music (his debut album Acre of Salt. was released in June) the heart of the song is in the lyrics which are approached poetically and reflectively. – Francesca Rose

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

Ben Zaidi: Someone’s relationship with the holidays is always a bellwether of their relationship with their family. In the past, quite good. When I wrote this song, quite poor, as I’m sure you can tell. Otis Redding’s ‘White Christmas’ is my favorite holiday song. Also love ‘The Christmas Song,’ John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over),’ ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell.

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

Ben Zaidi: I was inspired by “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” – by the idea of inverting that wistfulness. Rather than someone who wants to be home and can’t, I wanted to speak to someone who doesn’t want to go home, but can (or must). I felt that way, and there aren’t many holiday songs that reflect those with more mixed feelings about the season.

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

Ben Zaidi: Not enough holiday songs describe the ambivalence many people feel towards that time of year. I think it’s quite a prevalent sentiment, and is just as valid a response to the holidays as “good cheer.”

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

Ben Zaidi: An honest portrayal of people with more complicated feelings about Christmastime. Not everyone finds it particularly merry, yet we’re told that’s the only appropriate response to the whole affair. I guess you could call me a grinch, but I would say – maybe we should ask why the grinch hated Christmas so much? Maybe he had a toxic family situation he was trying to avoid.



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:: Johnnyswim ::

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Johnnyswim’s 2022 holiday contribution comes in the form of a radiant, romantic, spirited love song. “Every year it goes like this, holidays get more intense, but when it comes down to it, I just want to be near you,” Amanda Sudano Ramirez sings in “Don’t Make Me Wait,” a buoyant revelry that instantly reminds us that it’s the people we’re with who matter most this time of year. She and husband-bandmate Abner Ramirez make sure we never forget this truth in their bold and bubbly chorus, with its sweet, simple, and heart-melting request: “Everybody’s got their list, but make mine easy: Be my gift.” Seeing as I’m a hopeless romantic myself, this song is an instant holiday classic. – Mitch Mosk

Everybody’s got their list, but
Made mine easy, be my gift
Come on through, we’ll make the joy
We need this Christmas
Wrap up some of your affection
It’s all I want, oh have I mentioned it
I canceled every plan I have
From now ’till Christmas day
Don’t make me wait

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

Amanda Sudano Ramirez: The holidays are super important for my family because my parents always traveled for work and they were touring a lot during the year. So, every holiday we would be traveling around but Christmas was always at home. [I] have a lot of great memories [from that] and it was filled with so much food and music attached to it. Growing up, we’d listen to Amy Grant’s first Christmas album all the time, along with all of the classics, but that was the one album that our family knew every word to. For Abner it would probably be Gloria Estefan’s Christmas album, am I right?

Abner Ramirez: Gloria Estefan’s Christmas Through Your Eyes is definitely what we listened to the most growing up at Christmas time.

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

Amanda: I think because we were both raised really attached to the holiday and attached to the music around this time of year it really made sense to [record a holiday song] as soon as we were able to. Any year that we have some time on our hands and we’re be able to write/record some Christmas music
we do. This year we only had one day off that aligned with our dear friend Malay, so we said let’s get in and do a Christmas song. It was kind of a mix of…we have a free day and our friend (who we love to work with) is free.

Abner: And, to be perfectly honest… any excuse to extend the holiday into September for us seems to work just fine.

Amanda: We’re happy to start celebrating early.

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

Abner: I love the vibe and intention of the lyric, “don’t make me wait.” I want the holidays, I want you, I want to start celebrating right now. It goes back to that same sentiment of extending the holidays. It’s about simple pleasures, being together, and extending the ultimate joy that this season brings to us.

Amanda: It’s like the grown-up version [of holiday spirit]. For kids, you’re waiting for Christmas and the presents on Christmas day. The older you get, and the busier you get, it’s the whole season that you’re looking forward to and the ability to make time for one another and to make time for special moments. You get to start that as early as you want. In our case sometimes that’s too early.

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

Amanda: I think the hint of nostalgia in wanting to be together is [what this song brings to the table]. There’s also the fun of it too. We put out a Christmas song about two years ago called “A Hard Year’s Christmas” and that was really where we were at and how we were feeling like, man, we really just need a moment to breathe and collect ourselves. We were really wanting the holiday to be a moment for us to be still. This year we wanted fun and togetherness. I think that’s what we’ve been missing out on with everything that has been going on and people being so isolated, this song really speaks to the moment.

Abner: Indeed.



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:: Crowder ::

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

Crowder: Well, I love the song thing as the follow up, because when I think back to childhood, my parents had this console record player. It was like a Sears silver tone console record player that was more furniture than music listening electronic device. We’d spend hours on the floor. I think my parents are maybe just more generous with the stereo time during the holidays, but it had the deal where you could stack multiple records on top and it would drop. And we thought it was equal parts magic and science. Me and my brother would just be cruising there in the shag rug listening to magical Christmas songs. It was pretty eclectic – Bing Crosby to Willie Nelson. And Rudolph and Charlie Brown thrown in for the kiddos. But man, those are my memories. When I think of childhood, I think of music and laying in the shag rug in front of the silver tone, which is great when you’re thinking nostalgically going into a Christmas album process.

Do you mind sharing a little about the story behind this record? What was your vision going into it? Did that change over the course of recording?

Crowder: Well, it’s been so fun to tell this story because especially like today is the first interview process where I’ve gotten to tell what actually happened with the movie stuff. So we get a knock on the door, and it’s people from Marvel Studios, and they’re like, “Hey, we’re from Marvel Studios. We make superheroes.” So we’re like, “Ah, we’re familiar.” And they go, “Well, we’re doing a seasonal Christmas special with Guardians Of The Galaxy. And the plot line is the Guardians want to cheer Starlord up, and the best gift they can come up with is to go kidnap Kevin Bacon from Earth and take him to Starlord cause. This is the best long running joke, because in the earlier Guardians, Starlord always listened to his mix, and he’s baffled that they don’t know who Kevin Bacon is – the guy who saved an entire town through dance. He’s, like, this legend. So for the Guardians, Kevin Bacon is the best gift that can be given. And Marvel’s like, “We want to use your home to be Kevin Bacon’s home.” I’m like, “Wait a second, rewind all that. So you want to kidnap Kevin Bacon from my house, which is, in the Marvel universe, Kevin Bacon’s house?” And they’re like, “Yes.” We said, “Absolutely. Yes.”

So Marvel did Christmas like you would expect Marvel to do Christmas, which meant they purchased pretty much all of the inflatable lawn Christmas decor that could be purchased. So our whole lawn just looked like Christmas had thrown up on it. And then indoors, they of course, had done decorations over the top. But one thing we did not see coming. There’s a scene where a Christmas tree goes down. There’s an altercation, physical violence occurs to the tree and the tree goes down. Well, they have stunt trees ready to go to replace the tree that went down. They had all the stunt trees stored in our bedroom, which we were sleeping in still, and every morning I would wake up to – and this is an exact headcount – 16 fully decorated stunt trees. I would wake up at a Marvel magical Christmas forest. You know when you have that good sleep where you’re like, “I don’t know who I am or where I am, or what’s going on?”

It was that every morning for a solid month, and am I ever going to have that opportunity again? No, I don’t think so. This doesn’t happen every day, and so I’m like, “If we’re ever going to make a Christmas album, no doubt, 2022 in the Marvel Universe is the time to make the Christmas album. And am I ever going to have the opportunity to follow up an album titled ‘Milk & Honey’ with ‘Milk & Cookies?” So I had intentions that were known by the universe from the dawn of time, I suspect. So not only did I win the Kevin Bacon game, I also had the perfect festive inspiration that I woke to every morning while making this album. So it was the year of the Crowder Christmas album, no doubt. It’s so fun to tell because it doesn’t make any sense. You’re like, “That’s not a real story.”

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

Crowder: A lot of the original songs on this album are just hilarious to me. There’s some real heart in it as well, but as I said, music being such a part of what I think about what brings all the feels to me is the music that was associated. It’s like there’s a soundtrack that goes along to the Christmas holidays for me, and it’s been there since I was a child in the crib, so to be able to get to do the same thing and write new stuff, that part really fired me up. I’d always thought about making a Christmas album. You just go cover a bunch of songs and hope for one or two new ones to present themselves. But half of the album is brand new material that I think turned out in a really hysterical way. So that part, I got wound up and didn’t see it coming. And I don’t know if it was just that we were feeling really festive because of living in Christmas decor for several months there, but I wouldn’t have imagined that I would, if it weren’t December, just immerse myself in the spirit of Christmas. And we were immersed to say the least. I think a lot of that came across in the fun nature of these original songs. It just feels very festive and fun. Then getting to pick some of my favorite songs over the years, that was a blast as well.

With so many holiday songs out there, what do you feel “The Ballad of Mrs. C” brings to the table?

Crowder: I love that song getting called out. I mean, what Santa does, can we even call it a job? The guy works like one day, 24 hours, that’s it. He’s just in and out, and Mrs. Claus is holding down the household the whole time. Imagine all of the duties that are entailed there. I had that line that opens that song, “She’s so sick of the beard,” for years because I’ve been wanting to write a song about Mrs. C. And it just so happens that my wife’s first initial of her last name, now that she’s married to me, is a C. So it’s an analogy, and I think what people might miss in this song and what I’m trying to bring to the table that’s a new thing to point out and highlight about the season is, Santa’s just a dude. It humanizes him. What has he got going on without the beard? Take the suit away, what is he? And I think it turns Santa into a real-life man that’s just trying to get by. He’s just a dude married to a wonderful woman and they’re trying to make it. She’s got some good points. It’s cold in the North Pole. She just wants some seasons. It’s cold up here, clothes are weird, elves are everywhere and you can’t get any alone time with the big man. It’s tough. So I think I’m bringing a lot of humanity to a couple that just gives all year. And the dude doesn’t even have a real job. That’s what’s sad about it.



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:: Isla Croll ::

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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?

Isla Croll: The holiday season is usually one of the busiest times of year for me whether that’s performing at Christmas concerts with school/ college, in the studio, gigging or seeing family and friends. Some of my favourite Christmas songs are:

  • The classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey
  • “Cozy Little Christmas” – Katy Perry
  • “Driving Home for Christmas” – Chris Rea
  • “White Christmas” – Michael Bublé, Shania Twain
  • “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • “The Christmas Song” – Pentatonix
  • “Snowman” – Sia
  • “Silent Night” – Nat King Cole

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

Isla Croll: I’ve wanted to do a Christmas song for a while. When this opportunity came along, I took it. In the studio they let me experiment with different sounds which was a lot of fun!

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

Isla Croll: The familiar bells and whistles remind me of the buzz of Christmas time whether that’s celebrating with others, reflecting on the year or yearning for a reunion with that special someone.

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

Isla Croll: I think that this track brings new and fresh sounds to the pre-existing classics played each year. The strong and catchy melody accompanied with the typical, homely Christmas instruments makes this song one to remember. Even better, the animated video supports the message of or yearning for a reunion with that special someone or in this case Mungo the dog.



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:: Pollyanna ::

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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?

Pollyanna: The holidays hold a lot of special memories for me but they also hold a lot of difficult times for me. I have seasonal depression so it’s always at its worst in December, I have experienced a lot of death and loss around the holidays as well, and I dislike the cold a lot. The nostalgic part of it is my favorite, when I was just a kid and Santa was real. My favorite holiday songs are “Last Christmas” by Wham, “Blue Christmas,” and “Santa Baby.”

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

Pollyanna: I was inspired by the pain that myself and a lot of my other queer friends can feel around the holidays, not feeling accepted and finding it difficult to feel happy around this time of year. It’s not something that is often ever written about, especially involving queer issues.

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

Pollyanna: It captures the holiday spirit because the lyrics involve the setting of snow and loneliness as well as gift giving on Christmas day as we grow up.

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

Pollyanna: Personally, I’ve never really heard anyone write a song about not being accepted for being gay on Christmas. I also play a lot into religion because Christmas is traditionally a Christian holiday obviously and especially with that, it’s not often talked about how difficult the holidays can be for people that aren’t out to their families and have to dress a specific way to please them. I don’t think I have ever heard any Christmas song written about this matter.



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:: Havanna Winter ::

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What’s Christmas without the fun? Havanna Winter’s LGBTQ festive song is wrapped in playfulness: catchy, poppy and released with an incredibly kitschy video. In it there’s the momma (played by Marsha Molinari) ’in the kitchen baking apple pie,’ the brother ‘in his room and he’s getting really high’, the late uncle, the drunk grandma, food fights, arguments and exaggerated smiles and dancing. The daddy, missing at the dinner table, is found to be kissing Santa Claus on the roof of the house, an edited starry sky and snow effect further enforcing the atmosphere of embraced cheesiness.

Daddy’s Kissing Santa Clause” is the fourth single by the Norwegian born, LA based Havanna Winter. 16 years of age, she went viral in recent years via TikTok and her debut single, “rain rain go away,” was released earlier this year. – Francesca Rose

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

Havanna Winter: I love Christmas! Although, it’s not been the best these past couple of years.. It’s actually been pretty chaotic. I got COVID last Christmas, and my mom got kidney stones on Christmas Eve, and had to go to the hospital the year before that. And then, the year before that, I got really bad food poisoning, and spent Christmas in the hospital as well. So it’s been pretty crazy the last couple of years haha, but other than that I absolutely love Christmas, and I always get super happy whenever I see Christmas decorations. My favorite Christmas song would have to be White Christmas by Irving Berlin, The Drifters, and I also love:

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

Havanna Winter: I’ve honestly always wanted to make a Christmas song, and as I currently have somewhat of a campy theme going on, we thought it would be fun to make a Christmas song about a chaotic family Christmas, as things don’t always go as planned..!

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

Havanna Winter: I love this song, it’s really funny and it makes me laugh, it’s just good vibes all over, It’s the type of song that makes you want to get up and dance to and it just makes me really happy.

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

Havanna Winter: The song is a little different than your usual Christmas songs. I feel like a lot of people could relate to this song because some people have these expectations of Christmas being a certain way when in reality I think many of us have experienced quite a few chaotic Christmas’s where things don’t go as planned, so this is a funny story about a chaotic family Christmas. I think Daddy’s Kissing Santa is great because it’s funny and good vibes, and I think we all need a little laughter and joy right now, especially since there has been so much craziness going on in the world lately..!



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:: Litany ::

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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?

Litany: I’d be lying if I said I don’t start looking forward to Christmas from January 1st every year. I just love it, me and my brother go home to my parents place, my grandparents come, dad cooks an elite Christmas dinner.. ugh it’s just the best. Our Christmas day soundtrack has no doubt varied over the years, Michael Bublé was a staple for my mother for a good five years but a firm favourite is “Last Christmas” by Wham! It’s an all rounder.

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

Litany: To me Christmas songs seem to get a bad wrap, modern day attempts often fall by the wayside and new ones dismissed in favour of classics but of late I’ve had much more of a ‘give a f**k’ attitude and quite frankly, when the concept came to me, instead of talking myself out of it, I called my friend and producer Earl Saga, pitched it to him and we made it the very next day over Zoom. The original melody/idea I’d recorded was very different to where it ended up. Earl took it and flipped it into this 1950s style holiday epic and I lost my shit over how incredible it was. I immediately re-worked my melodies and phrasing to match the feeling of his production and Die Hard (Is a Christmas Film) is where we ended up – I love it.

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

Litany: My dad for as long as I can remember has said “It isn’t Christmas ’til Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Plaza.” Die Hard is most definitely a Christmas film for my family but it always intrigued me that there were still so many people that don’t agree!? It’s a recurring yuletide debate amongst friends and strangers and it was high time someone wrote a song about it.

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

Litany: I don’t know of another holiday song that says ‘Yippie Ki-Yay Motherfucker’, let alone seven times for good measure. It feels like an instant classic for me. The minute I press play I feel transported to stockings above a roaring fire, lights flickering on the Christmas tree, snow falling outside. It’s a tongue in cheek warm holiday hug from me to thee! x



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:: Mattstagraham ::

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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?

Mattstagraham: I have a weird love/hate relationship with the holidays, to be honest. October 1st to January 1st is my favorite time of year, but it’s been hard to get into the holiday spirit with so much going on and so little money. I think that I really like the idea of coming together for the holidays, as well as the decoration you see everywhere. I think I’m just not a big fan of the execution on the capitalist side, and the side of people it brings out in shopping frenzies.

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

Mattstagraham: I think that even if my song is a little grumpy, I still enjoy celebrating the holidays. I suppose that writing a grumpy Christmas song was a way for me to get into the spirit while also airing out some grievances I’ve been holding on to.

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

Mattstagraham: I think that there are many people who probably relate to how I’m feeling during the holidays, and I hope that the song brings them together. If the idea of the holidays is to celebrate love and connection, I hope that my tune can serve as a unifier for those of us that feel kind of alienated from the holidays we used to love as we get older.

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

Mattstagraham: I’m gonna be totally honest. I don’t know that I’m saying anything new here. I try not to think too much about saying something entirely new so I don’t get in my own way. It’s really just my honest articulation of what the holiday season makes me feel in a financial sense.



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:: The Collection ::

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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?

David Wimbish (The Collection): 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?

David Wimbish: 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?

David Wimbish: 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?

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



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:: Sara Noelle ::

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Haunting and atmospheric, “I’ll Sleep ‘Til Christmas” by Sara Noelle conjures up an icy solitary scene like a vast fjord or a never-ending spread of wilderness snow, somewhere where the proximity to nature is empowering. ‘There’s a present in the presence/Time slows down/ See the joy in the sky’ the LA Based singer-songwriter sings with a ghostly dreaminess. In sleeping until Christmas, as is the desire expressed in the chorus, listening to “I’ll Sleep ‘Til Christmas” makes us question whether we too are lost in a dream or just transported to the heart of winter. – Francesca Rose

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

Sara Noelle: Christmas is truly a time to appreciate the moment and it’s nice to lean into that feeling every year and express gratitude. I love Christmas music — all the classics. Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas is the perfect cozy record, John & Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and Joni Mitchell’s “River” will always be my favorites. The Flaming Lips’ Imagene Peise – Atlas Eets Christmas is such a cool Christmas record. Wintry songs with moving lyrics like “Walking in the Air” by Mimicking Birds and “Snow” by Lisa Hannigan. Also anything on the Home Alone soundtracks (including “Carol of the Bells” which I covered last year!) and John Williams’ beautiful score.

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

Sara Noelle: Since 2020, I’ve been releasing Christmas songs annually, made with frequent collaborator/producer Dan Duszynski. That tradition has been a nice way to start the holiday season. I try to write them in the same vein as I do my other songs. Also since my name is Noelle I feel more inspired to do so, ha.

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

Sara Noelle: It tries to capture that magical time at Christmas when all the worries of the year dissipate if only for a night.

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

Sara Noelle: The idea of “Sleeping ‘Til Christmas” was interesting to me and I tried to write a song that sounded like it could be listened to year-round (with some sleigh bells and Christmas added to the mix!). There’s hints of melancholy but it’s not necessarily produced that way. The song starts off with the sounds of a cricket, setting up a quiet, wintry scene.



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:: Punchline ::

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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?

Steve Soboslai (Punchline): My relation to the holiday season is that I am a person who abides by recurring holiday practices set forth by our American culture, which has its roots in a movement by 50’s era PR to spin romantic tales via mediums like TV and film to set a standard for how we should celebrate holidays like Christmas. But I love Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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

Steve Soboslai: Because Christmas music is this once-a-year happening with all these other worldly tunes, it’s fun as a songwriter to listen and wonder, “What makes a Christmas song sound Christmassy?” I suppose many years ago we tried to write a holiday song and after a few in the can it became a regular thing to try and write a Christmas song each year.

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

Steve Soboslai: This song was actually written initially for a fan who gave us his Christmas song to be turned into a holiday song. We loved the song so much we took it to the next level. Christmas is love and this song is meant to have that loving feeling.

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

Steve Soboslai: Rhythm, class, and a bit of world peace.



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:: Robby Johnson ::

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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?

Robby Johnson: For me, it’s the best time of year. It brings me back to when I was a kid heading to my grandma’s house for the Holiday break, where I could indulge myself with chocolate, ice cream sandwiches, homemade strawberry pie, watch all the Christmas movies, and unwrap all the gifts left by Santa. I also have a blast watching my kids enjoy it as much as I did and doing all I can to make it as memorable for them. I love all the classics like “Baby Please Come Home,” “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” “All I Want For Christmas,” and all the other ones that have that genuine authenticity.

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

Robby Johnson: I didn’t plan to record and release an original Christmas song. It came to me in my dreams as if the song already existed somewhere. It was so strong that I couldn’t willingly ignore it, so I just let it in and tried my best to bring it to life with the help of incredibly talented and devoted people. Everything fell magically right into place.

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

Robby Johnson: It’s reminiscent of all the classic Christmas songs I love, and it also captures the essence and frenzy of the Holiday season.

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

Robby Johnson: “Oh! Santa, Please” speaks directly to all the little kids inside us who still want to believe in the magic of Santa and wish the World was as simple as we imagined back then.

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:: Twinnie ::

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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?

Twinnie: I love the holidays, for me it’s about being around those you’re closest to and seeing the kid’s faces on Christmas morning. Some of my favourite Christmas songs are Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and I love any festive release from Dolly Parton too.

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

Twinnie: I love recording and releasing Christmas songs and “Elf Yourself” just seemed perfect. Lucie Silvas and John Osborne created something really great with this and I’m honoured to have been to perform it. I think I just brought my own personality to the lyrics to make it mine but the magic was already there.

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

Twinnie: I love that it’s not your traditional Christmas song; it’s basically the opposite of “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and I think that’s a really fun twist. Send this to someone you don’t like this Christmas, haha!

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

Twinnie: Like I said, it’s not your traditional Christmas song and that for me makes it unique. It’s about spending the holidays alone but in a good way. I love that.



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:: Terry Emm ::

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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?

Terry Emm: The Christmas holidays for me are always a time to withdraw and take stock of the year. There seems to be a certain kind of reflective winter solstice magic in the air that can be tapped into to let go of the year and heal and refresh yourself with a new outlook. In regards to holiday songs, from my childhood Christmas times at my Grandma’s house, I love Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ and Mud’s ‘Lonely This Christmas’ always gives me the festive-feels.

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

Terry Emm: The original guitar parts were something that came through the aether in my ex-girlfriend’s loft. Her dad had an old guitar up there and whenever I’d go there, I’d grab it for a play and “Gently” would just come out. The song eventually became Christmassy after a walk through Cheltenham Christmas markets, marveling at the lights and stalls, where I wrote the first line of the lyrics, ‘When Christmas lights are in the trees, it is a shame they’re not the real leaves’.

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

Terry Emm: The production we went for on “Gently” is brimming with Christmas sleigh bells and magic from the outset and it will always be a track that visits me each Christmas in some shape or form. When we originally released it back in 2012, it was quite an exciting time with the track picking up multiple BBC 6 Music plays and lots of juicy press and TV opportunities. Then, last Christmas the song resurfaced again in Jacquelyn Middleton’s best-selling Christmas novel ‘The Certainty Of Chance’, where the two main characters hear the song on the radio at the novel’s pivotal ‘reveal’ moment. So “Gently” always brings me a sense of optimism and fun.

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

Terry Emm: It perhaps has a bit more of an elf-like quaintness and folky sensitivity to it that maybe you don’t get with the more commercial Christmas songs out there. I haven’t really heard the candy-like organ sounds we have on this song on anything else and it’s not really structured like your usual pop Christmas song, either. Someone said my song’s sound ‘wide eyed’ recently, so maybe that’s a good way to describe it. Sad themes underlying a magical wide-eyed exterior, plus the video is completely nuts!



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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

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2021's Best New Holiday Songs

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2020's Best New Holiday Songs

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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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