12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 10)

Sometimes contemporary music acts take on a traditional carol and do something original with it. Yesterday I heard Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s cover of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” which is excellent and even, the way The Boss sings it, kind of soulful.

Recently I heard — for the very first time ever because I’m confident I would have remembered it otherwise — “Jingle Bells” by SheDaisy. This is a musical act I’d never heard of before, and their rendition of this song has been praised by some as being “original.” Well, it certainly is that. I found it, honestly, to be ridiculous. Overacted and beyond “soulful” for a song that is only a tiny bit of absurd fun on its own.

But the more I listen to this cover, the less bonkers I find it. I won’t say it’s grown on me yet, but we are definitely in danger of that.

And since the other song I thought about doing today had a story to go with it that became quite dark right away, I’ve decided to go with SheDaisy. Have you ever heard of them? If so, let us know all about it in the comments.


12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 9)

Remember how I said before that loneliness is one of the themes of the holiday season? And how it’s true now this year more than usual? Yeah.

This year I won’t be seeing my brothers for Christmas. Or my husband’s family. Or any of my cousins. I might not even see my parents, because there’s a pandemic and it’s been heinously mismanaged, to the point of abject criminality, here in Texas and here in the US. Honestly, I’m not whining about it and know that other people have it way worse. But this will actually be the first Christmas in my life I haven’t had my big extended family around me in some way, and it has taken a while for that to sink in, with the magnitude it deserves.

Am I special in this circumstance? Absolutely not. Most of my friends are in this exact same situation. Most of the people I know with any sense at all are in this exact same situation.

But let me tell you a story about some of the folks in my neighborhood.

A few weekends ago — this was a week after Thanksgiving break had ended — my husband and I were walking through our neighborhood on a Saturday morning, like we do. (We often walk in the mornings and evenings just to get out and avoid being sedentary when the weather is nice. It’s also one of our fun times to talk and connect with each other.) So we’re going down one of the streets and hear a lot of screaming.

Like, kids screaming. In a happy way.

We look in the direction of the sound and see a bouncy castle. We’re walking down that street anyway, and we see a bouncy castle filled with unmasked children screaming their heads off with joy. In the front yard next to the bouncy castle, which was a space about 10′ x 15′, there are SIXTEEN unmasked adults. Mixing and mingling, visiting with each other from just a foot or two away, drinking hot beverages, passing babies around. There are lots of balloons in the yard, including a giant 8, so we figured it was an eight-year-old’s birthday party. Also perhaps a super-spreader event. We were appalled and stayed as far away from it as we could. (Not difficult, as the streets are wide and we could be thirty feet away right across from them with no trouble.)

Then that evening, we were out for another walk, like we do, and going down that same street, we encountered ANOTHER BOUNCY HOUSE PARTY in a front yard TWO HOUSES DOWN from the one that morning. No kidding! This one was clearly a holiday party. No masks on any of the kids or legions of adults in the front yard and in and out of the house, but plenty of foam antlers on their heads. Catering truck on the street. Seriously, people?

I can’t even tell you how many party rental trucks we’ve seen around the neighborhood and in the residential area around our school over the last several weeks.

Don’t even get me started on school.

So yeah, this is a Christmas we’re going to be without our friends and family in person. That sucks, but also, it’s not going to be like this next year (let’s hope). I’m trying to find silver linings, like the mellow chill we can actually have in our house because we aren’t doing any entertaining. I might try out some new recipes. Catch up on some movies, play some board games. Read some books. Write one. Something.

The long and short is that this theme of being without our people hits differently this year. And I have to admit, of all the new Christmas songs I’ve encountered, of all the holiday songs about loneliness, this one might actually be my new favorite.

Happy Solstice. Get out there tonight, if your skies are clear, and look at the Grand Conjunction. Your own little holiday star, if you will. Cheers!

12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 8)

Here’s a new holiday song my friend Kara Masharani suggested. (You know Kara: we do monthly book chats together. Watch for another one coming hopefully before the end of the year!)

One theme we see a lot of at the holidays is loneliness, typically for one’s beloved or even one’s family. Have we ever felt that more than this year, when so many places are (or should be) on lockdown due to the virus?


12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 7)

“Carol of the Bells” is one of my favorite holiday songs, and there are very few versions of it I’ve ever heard that I didn’t love. Well, that one with the big choir singing where they’ve changed all the lyrics to be super religious and Jesusy is one I can live without, even though I’ve been a very spiritual person all my life. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the Gothic and sacred version we already had, if you ask me. (And I recognize no one did.)

This one by Mannheim Steamroller is largely instrumental and combines the massive orchestral sounds and electronica they’ve come to be known for. Fun fact, their Christmas album is apparently the best-selling Christmas album ever.

Anyway, here’s a little over-the-top to get your weekend going. If you’re like me, that means finishing up gift shopping (online, of course), grading papers, doing a little writing, and napping with the cats next to the Christmas tree. Enjoy!

12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 6)

Part of why I’m irritated by Houston’s Official Christmas Music Station is because they only very rarely veer away from their traditional and limited playlist. It’s just the same “safe” stuff over and over again. Every year some current music stars will drop new holiday songs — or rehash old ones, sometimes in a slightly new way — and I really appreciate the new stuff being added to the pop music canon when that happens. Sometimes I really like those songs.

I might be one of only four people in the world who actually likes “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. Sure, I first encountered the song in the movie Love, Actually, so that probably made a difference. And I equally love the hilariously creepy minor-key version by Chris Holfelder.

But here’s another fun and bouncy singalong by Mariah Carey, featuring divas Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande, which I really like for its upbeat cheerfulness. Enjoy!

12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 5)

Today’s holiday music earworm is a suggestion from fellow author and blogger David Jón Fuller. It’s about as different from yesterday’s “Mad Russian” music as it can be, but I really like it. This sweet song makes a soothing background accompaniment to my feverish grading here at the end of the semester, and it definitely calms me after dealing with online holiday shopping customer service purgatory. Not only that, but the setting for this music video is the cozy holiday setting I wish I were sitting in right now. So win-win-win!

12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 4)

Sometimes medleys annoy me a little bit, but other times, when they’re done really well and are genuinely fun to listen to, I like them a lot. This is one I particularly enjoy. It hits so many notes I love: rock music, big orchestras, minor keys, holiday songs, genre bending and mixing. I would love to see it live some day.

Wow, I miss going to concerts.


12 Days of Seasonal Earworms Worthy of Your Love (Day 1)

So Houston’s Official Christmas Music Station started hawking their wares literally a week after Hallowe’en because their tired holiday playlist seems to show up earlier every year. I did not tune my car stereo to it until after Thanksgiving, as is respectable, and of course when I did, it offered very little in the way of original or interesting music. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a year, you know I offer up some of my own holiday playlist each December so make things more interesting for you.

So today we begin!

I always start with The Waitresses, because “Christmas Wrapping” is one of my favorite Christmas songs and also because for as long as my life is Way Too Busy this song will never not resonate with me hardcore. I have found, during this global pandemic, that I like being a homebody now and then, that I really appreciated not being able to run around for several hours every weekend Getting Things Done. But that doesn’t mean my life (during the school year, at least) has become truly less busy. The workload is epic, I’m sorry to say. But I’m surviving and grateful, in full recognition of the very specific kind of privilege I have that even allows me to grouse to my colleagues about how much extra work teaching in a pandemic is on top of a job that was already, most of the time, Too Much Work.

But I digress. Can you relate to being too busy even to enjoy things you might have been looking forward to sometimes?

The vaccines are on the way. (In the meantime, wear a mask and cover your nose with it, too, so that wearing it actually matters. Please. In related news, I will no longer be running errands at business where the employees fail this simple test of intelligence. Looking at you, closest UPS Store to my house.) We will, I hope and trust, get this virus under control. I hope that those of us who had mindlessly and needlessly cluttered lifestyles won’t revert back to them, but that we become more intentional about things. I’m certainly working on that.

And to pep things up a bit, have a danceable earworm! Happy holidays!

Oh, and P.S. — I still have a couple of spots left in this year’s series that I’ve been reserving for requests, so leave them in the comments if you have them.

Also, P.P.S. — If you want to see previous years’ playlists, click below on the first non-Waitresses day of each one and click through at the bottom to hear them all.
2013 — 12 Days of Christmas Music That Isn’t Awful
2014 — 12 Days of Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck, 2014 Edition
2015 — 12 Days of Christmas Music That Won’t Turn Your Brain to Goo
2016 — 12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist
2017 — 12 Days of Earworm-Worthy Holiday Music
2018 — 12 Days of Christmas Music to Knock Your Socks Off
2019 — 12 Days of Seasonal Earworms You Need Right Now