What is Christmas without some good ol’ snow and soul music? The temperature is dropping, but here are a few smooth holiday sounds that will warm you up.
Best for awaiting the holiday feast: ‘What Christmas Means to Me’ by Stevie Wonder
With bright vocals and upbeat instrumentation, Stevie Wonder brings the funk to Christmas festivities. The Motown rhythms of the bass matched with Wonder’s iconic voice have made this song a holiday hit for decades. This original song makes you want to dance around your living room as you prepare the holiday feast.
Best for dancing: ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ by Mariah Carey
Who can curate a Christmas playlist without including the seasonal anthem from the queen of Christmas herself? With a brilliant build-up to a festiveness for which the song is known for, Carey’s classic is heard – and immediately recognized – in department stores and residence halls alike.
Best for brushing up on your winter whistle tones: ‘O Holy Night’ by Mariah Carey
Aside from her choral perfection, Carey adds other elements of the church into this classic Christmas song. An organ instrumental intermission gives off a hymnic feeling that will make you feel like you’re in church, and Carey hits an impossibly high register and completes a series of flawless runs.
Best for caroling: ‘Give Love on Christmas Day’ by The Jackson Five
“Give Love on Christmas Day” proves that love is more important than presents. The sentimental song was released in 1970 and features subtle production, reinforcing the tender sentiment that is expressed.
Best for warming up by the fireplace: ‘Let It Snow’ by Boyz II Men
As one perennial record pronounced, it is cold outside, the soulfulness of these two R&B acts can easily melt away the same snow of which they sing. Led by vocal powerhouse Wanye Morris, the group sings of Christmas romance and snow. Soul icon Brian McKnight, whose honeyed tone acts as a serenading force, is featured in the song.
Best for celebrating the holiday after church: ‘One Wish (For Christmas)’ by Whitney Houston
The late Whitney Houston also had her own salute to the season: A Christmas project named “One Wish: The Holiday Album.” The title track combines the gospel-tinged R&B of Carey’s “O Holy Night” with the idealism of The Jackson Five’s “Give Love on Christmas Day.” Houston mixes her stellar mezzo-soprano with the themes of unity and joy.
Best for slow-dancing: ‘This Christmas Song’ by Tamia
R&B singer Tamia wishes us a very merry Christmas with her celestial voice in this mellow ballad. A hint of jazz from trumpet interjections embellishes her delicate notes. Not surprisingly, “This Christmas Song” alludes to choral carols, Santa Claus readying himself for an exhaustive night of sleigh riding and Jack Frost bringing his frigid air.
Best for frolicking in snow-covered fields: ‘Winter Wonderland’ by Andra Day
There is no denying that this record has a strong jazz influence, but it also offers a wonderfully whimsical quality. R&B and soul singer Andra Day sings about building a snowman with her partner and embracing the spirit of the season.
Best for feeling sentimental: ‘I Want to Come Home for Christmas’ by Marvin Gaye
Speaking on behalf of prisoners of war and others who can’t come home for Christmas, Marvin Gaye pays this homage with a plaintiveness and desolation appropriate for the blues genre. His famous rasp makes the material as tangible as ever, and the soulful sighs of the heartfelt hook enhance the melancholy mood.
Best for showing gratitude: ‘I Still Have You’ by Charlie Wilson
Charlie Wilson’s appreciative song joins 12 others in making “The Best Man Holiday’s” soundtrack – but its vibrant energy makes him stand out from the rest. Writing about his sweetheart, Wilson says luxury is worthless without love. Upbeat with catchy riffs, “I Still Have You” will inevitably have you belting out to any of your near and dears.