The holiday season is rife with undue stresses, from dealing with the barely-controlled chaos raging at shopping malls across the country to navigating gridlocked highways and mobbed airports to attend family gatherings in the hopes this is the year Uncle Ernie doesn’t get so drunk he passes out under the Christmas tree (again).
These are just some of the reasons why holiday parties thrown throughout the season are such a welcome relief from the overwhelming madness that inevitably comes with the countdown towards the end of the year.
Besides good people,tasty snacks and frosty beverages for celebratory toasts, music is one of the most important components of any successful holiday bash. Instead of boring the party people with the usual shuffle mix of chart hits and weird EDM mash-ups, we’ve unearthed ten of the most interesting and crowd-pleasing tunes from artists you already know and already love.
Party tip: Mix these tunes with our Top 12 Rockin’ Christmas Songs (That Aren’t Crappy Covers) and Top 10 Christmas Covers You’ll Actually Like to create the ultimate holiday party playlist of all-time. Really!
Gotye, “Learnalilgivinanlovin” – While his mega-hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” will go down as one of 2012’s most defining tunes, Gotye is more than a one-hit wonder. This feel-good single from way back in 2006 from his Like Drawing Blood album blends the best of the Beach Boys and Motown into the perfect start to any party.
fun., “Believe in Me” – While this rapidly rising (and GRAMMY nominated) NYC indie pop band are garnering accolades for their recent cover of Christmas classic “Sleigh Ride,” this is not fun.’s first take on a holiday song. The band crafted this clever original Christmas song back in 2009, even interpolating melodies from “Jingle Bells” into the outro.
The Lumineers, “Soundtrack Song” – These earnest folk-rockers blasted out of Denver, CO, so quickly they’ve barely had time to put out much more music than their self-titled debut album from earlier this year, which netted the band two GRAMMY nominations, including the coveted Best New Artist. They were, however, able to squeak out free four-song The Lost EP, which would go on to be reissued as Tracks From the Attic. Among those songs is this emotional melody, which somehow didn’t make it onto the band’s full-length LP.
Mumford and Sons, “Hold On To What You Believe” – While this song from the six-time GRAMMY nominated UK folk band has become a fan favorite through repeated performances in concert, finding the original recording of this one is no easy feat. The song first appeared as the B-side of the Love Your Ground EP back in 2008, featuring early hit “Little Lion Man” on the A-side.
Blink 182, “Good Times” (TV theme song cover) – Over their storied career, SoCal bad boys Blink-182 have recorded more songs than you can shake a rubber chicken at. For the “Apple Shampoo” single from their second album, Dude Ranch, the band recorded this hilarious version of the theme song from popular ’70s African-American sitcom, Good Times.
Foo Fighters, “Band on the Run” (Wings cover) – While Dave Grohl’s is currently making news by recording the song “Cut Me Some Slack” with the surviving member of Nirvana and Paul McCartney, the Foo Fighters’ frontman’s connection to the ex-Beatle go way back. Case in point: This cover of McCartney’s 1974 hit single with his stadium rock act, Wings. The Foo Fighters recorded this faithful version of it in 1997 for BBC Radio 1’s 40th anniversary tribute album, Radio 1 Established 1967.
Grouplove, “Don’t Say Oh Well” – Before blowing up on the back of hit single “Tongue Tied,” the sprawling L.A. collection known as Grouplove released a 6-song self-titled EP back in 2010, where this infectious rave-up can be found. Attentive TV fans will also recognize it from being played on popular series The Vampire Diaries.
Black Keys, “Set You Free” – While these GRAMMY-nominated blue-rockers have exploded out of Ohio into one of the world’s biggest bands on recent singles like “Gold on the Ceiling,” the Black Keys have been recording killer tunes for years, like this fuzzy slab of garage rock from their second album, 2003 release Thickfreakness.
Rush, “Tom Sawyer” (DJ Z-Trip Remix) – These prog-rock legends are currently riding high on their recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Genre-defying DJ Z-Trip updated their 1980 smash hit for the underrated rock/hip-hop collaboration soundtrack for 1998 kids’ adventure flick, Small Soldiers. While rock remixes can often be a dubious endeavor at best, Z-Trip’s rework of this classic rock gem is nothing short of awesome, even garnering Z-Trip props from Rush fans.
M83, “Couleurs” – Dreamy French bliss wave act M83 have hit the mainstream hard with hits like “Midnight City” and “Reunion,” but they’ve been releasing albums of their patented future-retro rock for more than a decade. This dynamic dance track is taken from the 2008 album Saturdays = Youth, and has become famous as the song M83 plays to end most of their live shows. Reminiscent of classic New Order, this lengthy instrumental (it clocks in at over 9 minutes) is perfect to get the dance floor moving and keep the party going well into the wee hours of the morning.
-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local