‘Tis the season where holiday music blares on every single radio station. As hard as one might try to change the station to anything that isn’t jingling bells or throwing up red, green and tinsel, the holiday season is relentless. Its auditory attacks make most listeners — by choice or not — embrace the cheery season and crave cookies and milk by the fireplace.
But there are tons of holiday songs that completely fly under the radar and, for good reason or not, will receive zero airplay this December. Without further ado, hop into The Spectrum’s sleigh and enjoy this bumpy and somewhat frightening ride through this season’s most slept on holiday anthems!
1. “Covid Christmas” — Trisha Paytas
Paytas, fresh off the non-existent success of her solo pop album “Chicken Fingers and Lipo” and her emo band’s self-titled project, “Sadboy2005,” dropped “Covid Christmas” in November 2020.
Despite her endless list of scandals and numerous Internet cancellations, Paytas’ holiday bop is a ridiculously autotuned pandemic-era guilty pleasure.
After having a “cancel kind of year,” Paytas fantasizes about her Amazon wishlist and kissing Santa through his mask (spoiler alert: he tastes like milk).
This auditory assault, essentially Paytas’ take on Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” for a new and slightly disturbed generation, certainly warrants a bewildered listen at office holiday parties everywhere.
2. “last xmas (you gave me cocaine)” — Nova May
Nothing radiates holiday cheer more than addictive stimulants, but it totally kills the vibe if your dad figures out where your stash is!
Nova May offers up a hyperpop take on Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” where she is more concerned with expensive gifts, getting high and making it rain than with giving her heart to someone special.
3. “My Sleigh” — XoBrooklynne
XoBrooklynne, aka Brooklynne Webb, unlike Nova May, made the “Nice List” this year.
In 2021, Webb sent the Internet into a frenzy with her attempted transition from body-positivity content creator to pop star. Her self-absorbed single “My Crown” attracted heaps of negative attention for being talentless, mindless and objectively generic pop music. But when she released “My Crown: The Album” — a collection of ironic remixes of the lead single — audiences reevaluated their previous judgments.
Webb revisits her claim-to-fame satire music career with one more remix, a holiday version of “My Crown” entitled “My Sleigh.” Both ironically and unironically, it slays.
4. “Santa Wuts Ur Sign??” — Teen Scientist
Teen Scientist’s only claim to fame is a bizarre Matthew Morrison-bashing TikTok series in which she is, among other things, kidnapped by the controversial former “Glee” star. Although Teen Scientist fills a very specific niche — both in terms of TikTok content and music — “Santa Wuts Ur Sign??” is an unexpectedly fun, quirky and disarming take on the Christmas spirit.
Thrillingly awkward and otherworldly, this alternative rock-pop Christmas anthem excites with brain-scratching sonic choices and thought-provoking deliberations about whether Santa is a “sexy Aquarius” or a Gemini, which would make him “double the hot.”
5. “California Winter” — Bonnie McKee
For many, the rest of this list may be utterly unlistenable, perhaps even ear-bleed inducing.
Luckily, Bonnie McKee delivers a timeless and unconventional approach to Christmas music that is sonically brilliant and lyrically innovative. Instead of imagining a frigid summer of snowflakes and ice skating, McKee’s lover keeps her as warm and toasty as a “California Winter.”
It should come as no surprise that the underrated songwriter behind most of Katy Perry’s biggest hits (including “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream” and “Roar”) would deliver. Her chart-topping songwriting lends itself perfectly to crafting, bop-worthy, Mariah Carey-level holiday success.
Alex Novak is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Alex Novak is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum.