Wylin' in a winter wonderland

The Coast helps you feel holly jolly with a playlist of holiday tunes heavy on local favourites.

click to enlarge Jenn Grant's new holiday album Forever On Christmas Eve is full of classic tunes and a new original track that proves slow jams and holiday hits can overlap. - DANIEL LEDWELL
Daniel Ledwell
Jenn Grant's new holiday album Forever On Christmas Eve is full of classic tunes and a new original track that proves slow jams and holiday hits can overlap.
How do you make your holiday zoom party feel a little more like the real thing? Treat it the way you would an IRL gathering—which means building the perfect party playlist. This is no small order, people: The background music of the evening sets the tone of how things unfold. It fills gaps in conversation. Ideally, it gets butts moving at some point—and helps get them moving out the door at some point, too. (There's a reason why many a bar plays Semisonic's biggest hit at the end of the night without a trace of irony.)

But since this holiday is bound to be even more stressful than the usual December (sorry but it's true), we here at Team Coast are giving our gift to you a little early: A pitch-perfect playlist of carols and classics, by everyone from Jenn Grant to Ben Caplan to, yes, Mariah Carey. These are the only songs we've ever had help our heart grow three sizes while partaking in eggnog drinking or tree trimming. Here's hoping they do the same for you.

“O Holy Night” by Ben Caplan

The thundering folk star himself goes for Baroque with this holiday standard, making it the prime opening slot on this playlist: Its slow-building anticipation is perfect for waiting for the first guests to (virtually) arrive.

“The Banister Bough” by Chilly Gonzales feat. Feist

Collaborations between Canada’s premiere songbird and musician-producer Gonzales are always solid gold (see the Gonzales-produced Feist album Let It Die for proof). This, the duo’s first-ever holiday hit, proves no exception as it tickles your every vertebra with warm piano and soaring vocals.

“Make You Mine This Season” by Tegan and Sara

When it’s time to kick the party into high gear, this glossy synth-pop gem is what you need—especially since it sounds so in the wheelhouse of the Quinn twins you’d barely know it was a holiday track if you weren’t paying attention to them sing “you’re the only girl I’ve got on my list.”

“Kisses for Christmas” by Christina Martin

Warm, jaunty and mid-tempo: Martin’s new holiday single is not only a catchy-as-hell reminder of what matters most this time of year—it’s also the perfect mood music.

“Downtown Christmas Eve” by Jenn Grant

If you ever doubted that a holiday song could double as a baby-making anthem, well, you’ve never heard Grant’s ode to life in a winter wonderland. 

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Serena Ryder

Not since Regina George has someone made this rock ’n’ roll song slap so hard.

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Anne Murray

The grand dame of Nova Scotia’s folk tradition is back with the sort of album made for tinsel-edged days. Get into it as she tackles silver-throated standards like this one.

“Merry Xmas Everybody” by Sloan

This John Lennon-feeling 2012 holiday hit still holds up.

“Little Road to Bethlehem” by Don Brownrigg feat. Rose Cousins

A slow, sweet folk lullaby that’s perfect for deep conversation.

“Then It Snowed” by Gabrielle Papillon

A soaring, pop-tinged song that will make the moment feel like it stepped straight out of your favourite holiday movie.

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Destiny’s Child

Transport yourself to the days of girl power and butterfly clips with this early 2000s holiday staple.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

The GOAT of holiday hits helps end your Zoom call on the perfect, vibrato-soaked note.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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