If you’re anything like us, the coming of the holiday season means one thing: yet another opportunity to create delicately constructed seasonal mixtape! Also goodwill towards man, the Peanuts Christmas special and presents or whatever. As Gen Yers overstimulated by pop culture and terminally broke members of the lower-middle class (or are we upper-lower class?), we can recognize the power of a well crafted mixtape.
But that can be a tricky proposition.
How do you make a mix without it coming off as a vain artifact of your conspicuous consumption (i.e. “Behold! My unsettlingly encyclopedic knowledge of songs using the word ‘jingle!’”)? Or, worse yet, an unconnected mess of songs you like? This isn’t the 8th Grade, people, you’re going to have to put some effort into your creation if you don’t want to look foolish.
We’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a handful of holiday mix theme ideas for you, along with song ideas and maybe cover art suggestions too (you’re not going to just doodle a Christmas tree and a Star of David on a CD, right? RIGHT?!), if you’re lucky. Without further ado:
The Ironic Classic
Nothing but Perry Como and Nat King Cole! Once upon a time, I spent my December hocking pricy Christmas trees to Belle Meade dwellers with loads of cash to drop on $80+ Fraiser Firs. But because the lot was hosted by a stick-in-the-mud Methodist Church, we were only allowed to play traditional Christmas music over the speakers. If you knew how often I had to hear a crackly version of “Silver Bells,” you would cry. Although, on the other hand, it did save me from having to endure the Jimmy Buffett Christmas record, so thanks, I guess. Fill your record with the classics and pretend like you think it’s cool to be so incredibly old-school. We recommend a Norman Rockwell painting photoshopped to put Wayfarers on everybody as cover art.
Selection Suggestions: Perry Como; Tony Bennett; Julie Andrews. For bonus points, try to sneak “Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer” in there.
An Earnest Indie Folk Christmas
Let’s say that you’re not feeling hip and grinchy. Let’s say that you actually look forward to the holidays and have, in almost Linus-esque fashion, realized that the reason for the season isn’t mugging people for their newly bought PlayStation 3s (we know, right?). You have nothing but warm feelings about Christmas and want to express them in a way that won’t get you made fun of. You’d be shocked at how many of your favorite low-key indie folk balladeers have put out special holiday records. David Bazan has been putting out Christmas 7″ records for years! It’s a sign of maturity to release somber Christmas music, apparently, so you’ve got plenty to choose from. For art, we recommend a fireplace. No holiday decorations though–you want to be inclusive, right?
Selection Suggestions: “Just Like Christmas” by Low; “Blue Christmas” by Bright Eyes; Sufjan Stevens put out a whole box set of earnest Christmas music. Obviousness doesn’t matter here!
“Fuck You, Mom!”: A Punk Ode to the Holidays
Maybe you don’t like Christmas. Or, perhaps, maybe you like Christmas but hate the establishment. Maybe if you hear “Oh Holy Night” one more time, you’re going to fight the next Salvation Army Santa you come across. One, you should probably see someone about those rage issues. Two, you’re going to want to focus your attention on punk, metal and noise bands covering X-Mas tunes. Or, better yet, original songs. It worked for The Vandals! Find a picture of a drunk Santa Claus, that’ll get the message across.
Selection Suggestions: “Oi to the World” by The Vandals; ”Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” by Ramones; “Santa’s Got a Mullet” by Nerf Herder; “White Christmas” by Melt-Banana
Christmas Eve at Mercy Lounge
We can appreciate your fierce local spirit, so why not jam as many holiday-oriented songs by local bands onto a single piece of recordable media as possible? The savvy musician knows that with so many people scouring mp3 blogs in December for new and obscure Ludachristmas tunes, they’d be fools not to record something about Santa and throw it onto the Internet. It doesn’t even have to be good! But, you know, it helps. Photoshop some Christmas lights onto a picture of Dave Cloud. You won’t get much more local than that.
Selection Suggestions: “You Never Come Home for Christmas” by Caitlin Rose; “The New Christmas Wish Book” by The Features; “I’ve Got A Present for You” by The Nobility
What About the Rest of Us?: A Mix for Non-Gentiles
Things get awfully Christmassy up in here, it’s easy to forget that there are other religions and economic philosophies that don’t involve propping up every business in town with your guilt purchases. What about Hanukkah? Or Kwanzaa? Or Tet? Seriously, you guys, what about Tet? We can’t help much with the tracklisting on this one, but Paul Burch loves putting out songs about Hanukkah. King Django plays festive klezmer/ska music. Um, Adam Sandler? No, we take that one back. Don’t be the guy putting Adam Sandler on a mix. This isn’t 1997. Your art must be a picture of a menorah attacking a large city. Don’t let the man keep you down.
// Photo by Henry.