The Christian holiday of Christmas, like many other religious celebrations in the past few months, has taken place under extraordinary circumstances this year. Given the trials and stresses of the past year, it is not surprising that many weren’t feeling in the spirit as much as usual. Christmas doesn’t hold huge significance for me, but over the years I have managed to collate a collection of songs that remind me of this time of year as a whole, including frosty mornings and mightily short days. So, I thought I would share a few of my non-Christmassy Christmas songs for anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas or who just isn’t feeling it this year because there’s plenty of musical inspiration to be felt through the season and inspire a general feeling of cheer now that this hellish year has drawn to a close. Without further adieu, here is my alternative Christmas playlist!

Reality In Motion- Tame Impala

I first became obsessed with this song while I was doing a Christmas play. The nature of the performances and rehearsals running right up until Christmas meant I didn’t feel Christmassy at all but listening to this song as I walked in the darkness for 4 pm rehearsals every day always reminded me of this crisp time of year and has had me coming back to this song every Christmas period. 

Best Part of the Song The drums at 2:28 and the power of the synths gives off such a warmth that, coupled with the emotional power in the lyrics, “It made my heart run in circles and overflow”, calls to the power of love and connection much needed as 2020 draws to a close.

Can’t Keep Checking My Phone- Unknown Mortal Orchestra

As well as calling to my innate powers of procrastination, with the repeated chorus line “I can’t keep checking my phone”, this song always gets me in a wintry mood with its chill rhythm and cool percussion. It reminds me of dark early mornings, leaping into the cover of warmth provided by the train to college, and just generally gives me the upbeat but relaxing vibes I desire on a cold winter’s day.

Best Part of the Song The build-up to the introduction of the drums at 0:28 sets up an eerie mood to this song that instantly has me thinking of frosty mornings.

Garde Le Pour Toi- Paradis

This song is one of my favourite post library walk back songs. After I’ve finished desperately trying to finish up a late-night study session, there’s nothing better than shivering to this song on the way back to my Oxford room. Total Michaelmas wintry vibes from this french masterpiece.

Best Part of the Song Has to be the re-introduction of the electronic base-line at 4:56 which rounds off this song and provides the intricacy that makes listening to it on cold winter journeys all the more fun.

LOVE. FEAT. ZACARI- Kenrick Lamar, Zacari

This time of year is often seen as a time for celebrating love (yes, I’m looking at you Love Actually) and this song helps bring out that side of the holidays, despite how single I am. Definitely a song for vibing to with loved ones but it’s also a great song to listen to when you’re in the mood for relaxing during the stress and chaos that Christmas often brings.

Best Part of the Song The simplicity of this song, best showcased with the vocals brought to the fore at 1:39, is what makes it perfect for relaxing to in a tipsy state of mind, something I think is best mirrored in the lyrics, “Sippin’ bubbly, feelin’ lovely”.

I Don’t Know Me Like You Do- Low Hum

If you’re in the mood for reflection or nostalgia, this is the non-Christmas Christmas song for you! Listening to this song after a few glasses of wine always has me dwelling on what a journey it has been since last Christmas.

Best Part of the Song The chorus at 1:15, combined with the drums and immaculate guitar and synth sounds, provides the perfect soundtrack to some mellow reflection and is sure to get you in your feels. Look out for the epic instrumental break at 2:55 as well!

gold rush- Taylor Swift

How could I not include a festive banger from Swift’s latest triumph? This song reminds me of those cold and crisp but beautifully sunny winter days where for a brief moment things don’t feel quite so glum (admittedly not quite the meaning of the song, but hey!). Indeed, the song’s lyrics, including my favourite line “I don’t like that falling feels like flying ’til the bone crush”, calls to the multitude of emotions attraction to someone can bring, especially when said person attracts many others too.

Best Part of the Song Has to be the second chorus at 2:08 when everything seems to fall into place musically, with a sharp break from the strict rhythm of the verse, giving it a sadness about it that makes it extra appropriate for sunny winter’s walks.

King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up)- China Crisis

This jazzy 80s tune is an ode to my Christmas wrapping, which every year I do to the sounds of Absolute 80s Radio rather than actual Christmas songs. Something about 80s music gets me prepared for the stresses of Christmas day and gets me into the mood by forcing me to dance.

Best Part of the Song In close contention with the guitar breakdown at 2:13, the introduction of backing singers to the lead singer of the chorus at 3:07 adds funky texture and attitude which is contrasted nicely with the fading outro. It reminds me of a sort of final hurrah of the year before a new one begins.

So, whether you’ve been feeling the festive vibe this year or not, I hope you’ll join me in enjoying the season of cosy pyjamas and nostalgia as we head towards the New Year with these alternative Christmas tunes. Having said all this, Christmassy or not, I’m a sucker for Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas! But as a New Year can finally be seen on the horizon, hopefully these tracks will also provide an atmosphere in which to reflect on the journey we’ve taken and the new one we are about to embark on.

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Jennifer Goodier

Jennifer Goodier (she/her) is going on to her second year of history at Brasenose and enjoys writing about the lighter side of life, with a special interest in all things playlist related.