So ’tis the season to switch things up a bit, to put aside the usual tunes and bring out those awesome songs you can only properly enjoy once a year. For the month of December, I’m going to share my top five favorite Christmas songs, from classic to modern, traditional to the rather non-traditional.
This week, I’m unleashing my top five favorite downtempo Christmas songs. Yep, you read that right – EDM actually has a spot in its normally energetic heart for Christmas songs. To start, allow me to define what downtempo means. As its name implies, downtempo is dance/electronic music that’s ambient, meaning it’s more for listening to than for dancing. For the record, downtempo also goes by the names lounge and chilled. But it all means the same thing – it’s EDM’s slowest mode.
So with that mini-musical lesson out of the way, let’s begin.
(Oh, and just a side note: I included links to either complete or sample versions of these songs, so the links were good as of the time and day I originally posted this. Should they expire some time in the future, I apologize in advance and ask that you do not blame me. I did not break the Internet.)
Sci-fi Fantasy Lit Chick’s Top Five Favorite Downtempo/Chilled Christmas Songs:
Honorable Mention: “Little Drummer Boy” – In-Grid
“Little Drummer Boy” is one of my least favorite Christmas songs because it just seems to go on forever (sort of like “Hey Jude” only not as good) and possesses a dreary beat. In fact, there are only two versions I like – an alternative/pop take by Jars of Clay and this version, sung entirely in French. That’s right, the whole song is in French. I love hearing Christmas songs in other languages, and combined with a smooth beat, In-Grid’s take is pretty listenable and definitely deserves an honorable mention here. (Though the cover art I found for this song on is a bit…um…un-Christmasy. I’m not sure what a blonde chick has to do with the holidays or downtempo tunes, so I do deduct a few imaginary points for sexism.)
5. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – DJ Trax
This is nearly the epitome of chilled music as a smooth, cool, relaxing beat propels this song, which is amplified with jazzy vocals. At first listen, it isn’t recognizable and very few lyrics from the original are used. But that’s what I like about it. Again, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is not one of my favorites because of its morose melody. Thankfully, it becomes far more light-hearted with this rendition.
4. “Winter Wonderland” (Vocal Mix) – Madison Park
Now this is some funky Christmas music! If the usual perky yet tame melody for this classic Christmas tune wasn’t to your liking, prepare to embrace this cover that proudly showcases a house beat mingled with jingle bells and light, elegant vocals. Definitely worth a listen if you like your Christmas songs with kick but with class.
3. “Still Still Still” – Kaskade
This is yet another Christmas song that’s a little slow going but leave it up to Kaskade to give it a nudge by increasing the tempo, adding a trance-esque beat, and incorporating a smooth jazz guitar. The vocals are soft and delicate, almost floating above the music. If you’re a Christmas carol purest, you probably won’t like this, but if you like to hear classics completely switched up, this is a good choice. I was never a huge fan of the original but I love this remake.
2. “O, Tannenbaum” (O, Dancing Tree Mix) – Red Connection
This is a holiday groove fest that has a quasi-bossa nova beat mingled with a jazzy piano-driven melody that will call to mind the Vince Guaraldi Trio music for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” only with a modernized edge. This version is instrumental only but it’s sheer fun to listen to and is, quite possibly, my favorite rendition of this song. Dancing Tree Mix is right – so have this one cued up for decorating the tree, wrapping presents, making cookies, or anything else you do for the holidays.
Link (sample only – but definitely worth the $0.89): http://www.amazon.com/O-Tannenbaum/dp/B000SY9VZS
1. “Sleigh Ride” – Zigo
This is my favorite chilled Christmas song of all. It has a smooth, groovy, minimalist beat and fluttering vocals that’s instantly relaxing. Unlike the other tracks on this list, Zigo’s version actually is the full version of “Sleigh Ride,” lyrics and all, rather than just sampling vocals or showcasing a few lines. “Sleigh Ride” is perfection and the epitome of chilled Christmas, so if you’re looking for a genuine downtempo Christmas song, look no further than this track.