The Ultimate Canadian Holiday Playlist
By Carol Neshevich ● December 08, 2016 20:10
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose ... and a great lineup of holiday tunes by talented Canadian artists playing in the background. Perhaps it’s because of our affinity for cold and wintry weather, but Canadian musicians are especially adept at evoking that festive spirit. So if you’re looking to get into the holiday mood, start by listening to these 10 tracks on our Ultimate Canadian Holiday Playlist.
“It's coming on Christmas/They're cutting down trees/They're putting up reindeer/And singing songs of joy and peace/Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on,” sings legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell in her 1971 song “River.” Wistful rather than jolly, this beautifully-written song has become a seasonal classic over the decades, and a favourite among those who prefer more melancholic holiday music.
More than one Canadian music fan has remarked that it’s just not Christmas time until they’ve heard the Skydiggers’ heartfelt, harmonic rendition of “Good King Wenceslas.” First recorded by the band in the 1990s, the Skydiggers have taken this traditional Christmas carol and truly made it their own.
The sweet and cheerful 2010 version of “White Christmas” by CFC Slaight Music Residency alumna Robyn Dell’Unto is reminiscent of Boney M’s popular rendition from the 1980s. The fun, up-tempo beat makes it a perfect song to listen to while wrapping gifts, baking cookies or decorating the house for the holidays.
“What a miracle that a spark/Lifts these candles out of the dark/Every evening one by one/Until the end of Hanukkah,” sings Steven Page in Barenaked Ladies’ “Hanukkah Blessings.” From the 2004 album, Barenaked for the Holidays, which features of a mix of Christmas and Hanukkah songs, this lovely melodic track is an original song written by Page.
This slow, guitar-centric 2011 version of “Silver Bells” by CFC Slaight Music Residency alumnus Liam Titcomb is a soulful, mellow tune – perfect for listening to while chilling and sipping a hot chocolate or glass of wine with someone special.
Combining holiday themes with funny Canadian “hoser” stereotypes, there’s nothing quite like the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” as adapted by SCTV characters Bob and Doug McKenzie. Played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, the McKenzie brothers released an album in 1981 that featured their own hilarious version of the classic Christmas carol, which replaces the traditional lyrics with, for example, “five golden toques, two turtlenecks and a partridge in a beer tree.”
The enchantingly warm voice of CFC Slaight Music Residency alumna Adaline makes her ethereal version of “Silent Night” a real holiday treat. This beautiful track would be a great choice to listen to on Christmas Eve while watching lights glisten on the tree.
No Canadian holiday playlist would be complete without the Crash Test Dummies’ 1991 rendition of “The First Noel.” The contrast of singer Brad Roberts’s deep baritone with Ellen Reid’s higher pitch yields delightful results in this yuletide classic.
“It’s a marshmallow world in the winter, when the snow comes to cover the ground,” croons Kim Stockwood in her 2006 version of this tune, first made famous by Bing Crosby in 1950. Even if you’re not a fan of snowy weather, Stockwood’s catchy, playful track may still inspire you to venture out to build a snowman, go tobogganing or just frolic in the snow.
It’s hard not to listen to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Jann Arden, recorded in 2015, without bopping your head and tapping your toes. If you want to liven up a holiday party and get all your guests in the festive mood, add this one to your playlist.