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8 Modern Christmas Songs That Aren’t So Bad

Tyler, the Creator gifted us a hip-hop song for Christmas. We are not worthy.
Tyler, the Creator gifted us a hip-hop song for Christmas. We are not worthy. Rachel Parker
When we think of classic Christmas music, we tend to recall songs that are at least 50 years old. The most recent song that has truly earned the title of holiday standard is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which came out almost 30 years ago.

Many songwriters have tried to capture that magic with their own original Christmas songs, but most attempts are middling at best and sound like they were written for a JCPenney commercial at worst. Nevertheless, we respect artists who are bold enough to take their shot at Yuletide immortality. Here are eight Christmas songs that ended up being pretty good, all things considered.

“Don’t Shoot Me Santa" by The Killers
The Killers have released several original Christmas songs over the years, but “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” is the most memorable. It’s not every day you hear a song with the narrator pleading for his life at the hands of a vengeful yet jolly Saint Nick. “It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Everyone loves a Christmas song that highlights the stressful side of the holidays. Think of this song as a response to “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses, making the case that Christmas with your family is sometimes just as bad as Christmas by yourself. “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber
Bieber’s music has been criticized as being dull and lacking in personality, but on this 2012 single that might be a good thing. The low-key, tastefully cheery production makes it ideal background music for decorating the tree with your family or pretending to have fun at the office Christmas party. “I Am the Grinch” by Tyler, The Creator
Time will tell how the animated 2018 film The Grinch will hold up compared with previous adaptations, but Tyler, The Creator was an inspired choice to contribute to the soundtrack. “I Am the Grinch (feat. Fletcher Jones)” is without a doubt the best original song to come out of an adaptation of Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas this century. “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande
It’s no secret that Grande fancies herself the spiritual successor to Mariah Carey, and while nothing she (or anyone else) has done has lived up to the legacy of “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” “Santa Tell Me” is sweet, inoffensive and not “Santa Baby.” What more could you ask for? “Cozy Little Christmas” by Katy Perry
As an artist best known for summer jams such as “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream,” Perry may seem an unlikely choice to release music even remotely related to winter. But her single “Cozy Little Christmas” is as cute and campy as those little Christmas trees in doctors' offices. “Glittery” by Kacey Musgraves with Troye Sivan
Musgraves has produced her fair share of holiday fodder, including her 2016 album A Very Kacey Christmas, but this this number from her 2019 special, The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, is still a standout and a favorite of the Amazon Prime Video subscribers who know it exists. “I Need You Christmas” by the Jonas Brothers
Though this song was released in 2020, there’s a retro charm to it. The jazzy piano and melancholy lyrics are hinting Judy Garland and A Charlie Brown Christmas, but the song is saved by the musical stylings of Nick, Joe and, presumably, Kevin Jonas. Honorable Mention: “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Bublé
This is not a Christmas song. However, we find it egregious that the man currently carrying the torch for Christmas crooning doesn’t have an original standard of his own. Until somebody does something about that, we’re just going to sneak this 2009 non-seasonal hit onto our holiday party playlists. (If you don't listen to the lyrics, you honestly can’t tell the difference.)
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