Music Australia News

That Perfect Christmas Playlist

Clare Kenny
| December 8, 2015

A bad rendition of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ (or frankly any rendition of it!) can do a lot to dampen your Christmas cheer and general holiday demeanour.  We all have very different ideas about Christmas music and what makes it good or bad. A dear friend of mine recently, and very passionately, declared that Mariah Carey’s Christmas album is the greatest of all time. Our friendship is somewhat strained at the moment.

DOs & DON’Ts
There are some clear DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to creating a Christmas playlist. DO mix it up and DO consider the audience and occasion for your playlist: think about where and when your playlist is to be played and who will be there.  DON’T be boring and DON’T dump a whole album into the playlist. Now for some explanation and examples to get you started:

Make it about you
For me, Christmas doesn’t exist without David Willcocks’ ‘Carols for Choirs’ or Benjamin Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’. You also can’t go past the incomparable Christmas joy that exists in the works of Father Christmas himself, John Rutter. If you are not familiar with Rutter’s Christmas originals, make the effort to get to know a few this Christmas. I recommend starting with ‘What Sweeter Music’ as there is nothing quite like the lyric of “smile like a field beset with corn” to get you feeling happy!

Pop & Culture
Having embraced the grand tradition that is British choral Christmas music, you must next seek to diversify your playlist. Upbeat multicultural numbers like ’El Burrito de Belen’ always do the trick, along with some well-chosen pop numbers. (Just remember – exercise moderation when it comes to vocal gymnastics at Christmas time and don’t forget that a little Michael Bublé can go a very long way).

Occasion & Audience
I have several different versions of my Christmas playlist ‘cause I don’t want to be listening to ‘Silent Night’ in the middle of my fun car ride to Grandma’s house. That just wouldn’t be right! There’s music to listen to while you wrap presents and there’s music to listen to when you unwrap them: there’s music for Christmas Eve and music for Christmas Day. It’s also very important to select some loud, dancey numbers to listen to as you finish Christmas shopping and seek to avoid the assault of shopping centre festive music.

If you are looking for a few suggestions to get your Christmas playlist started, here they are:

  • Frosty the Snowman’ – Only this performance by Ella Fitzgerald will do. The lady is a legend. ‘Nuff said.
  • Sussex Carol’ – I fell in love with this carol after I first watched ‘The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends – The Tailor of Gloucester’, an animated short based on the genius of Beatrix Potter.
  • White Wine In The Sun’ – This beautiful number from Tim Minchin is all about Christmas in Australia – sun, alcohol, family and fun.
  • Chanukah (Shake It Off)’ – Consider this a Christmas present to your soul and just listen to this Six13 song now. You’re welcome.
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ – Judy Garland offers us the ultimate sad yet happy Christmas song. Make sure you listen to Judy’s version – no other will do.
  • It Feels Like Christmas’ – This song comes from ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’; the greatest Christmas movie of all time. I highly recommend that you add it to your holiday viewing.
  • Walking In The Air’ – Howard Blade and Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’ is just beautiful: 26 minutes of nothing but original music and images of a lovely, wintery Christmas. ‘Walking In the Air’ is the feature song of the short film.

When looking for tunes to include in your playlist, don’t go past Australian albums like ‘Voices of Angels’ by Gondwana Choirs or albums guaranteed to deliver something a little different like ‘The Motown Christmas Collection’.

Wishing you all the very best for your Christmas playlist creating and for the festive season.

Happy Christmas!


P.s. Don’t forget that you should never feel self-conscious about singing carols at Christmas –



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