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10 Almost-Holiday Songs to Help You Get Festive

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

I'm the kind of person to abandon any sense of time and jump straight into the holiday spirit as soon as the calendar flips to November. However, before I overplay "Deck The Halls" and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" all through December, I wanted to find some transitional songs to get me into the holiday spirit without feeling unseasonably festive. So, from one Winter lover to another, here are 10 almost-holiday songs to get yourself into the holiday spirit.


"Wintering" - The 1975

UK-based band The 1975 is comprised of Matty Healy, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and George Daniel. Best known for their 2016 release "Somebody Else," the group's popularity is immense within the pop-rock genre. My personal favorites in their discography are their ballads, such as "If I Believe You" and "Be My Mistake." While lead singer Matty Healy remains a controversial public figure, with some debating whether his off-the-rails persona is a part of his artistry or his true personality, the band's musical ability is undeniable.

"Wintering" is the perfect holiday prep song. Though the lyrics depict a holiday reunion, the song conveys its festive vibes without relying on clichéd holiday buzzwords. The chorus, which I find to be its strongest aspect, has a notably infectious piano melody and repeats the motif of arriving home on the 23rd of December to your family for the holiday season. It's sweet, upbeat, and a great tune to add to your November and December rotation.


"Where Did My Baby Go" -John Legend

Earning the title of one of the most influential musical moguls of our generation, John Legend truly lives up to his last name. As the first black man to accomplish the award feat that is the EGOT, his talent throughout the artistic sphere is undeniable. With nine full-length studio albums, his repertoire is nothing short of impressive. On top of this, his spot as a judge on The Voice and the independent work he has done alongside aspiring artists allows him to share his musical prowess and advice with many budding stars.

While this song is probably the furthest on the list from being a holiday song, something about the whimsical, simplistic piano melody paired with John Legend's buttery vocals somehow reminds me of a wintery day. The storyline is unrelated to the holiday season, with lyrics describing a longing for a past lover and wondering where they went. Legend sprinkles in romantic anecdotes, such as "life's just not the same when she's not here," and "Please tell that girl if you meet her, someone's longing to see her". The instrumentals only build on this romantic vibe, with the sweet violins exuding a feeling reminiscent of strolling through town on a bright snowy day.


"Stick Season"- Noah Kahan

Noah Kahan is the epitome of New England. Born and raised in Strafford, Vermont, he channels these roots frequently through his music. While his celebrity has expanded the most within the past two years, he has been making music since way back in 2017. He just secured his first Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, and expressed his gratitude in a tearful video of him reacting to the news. Lately, he has been re-releasing music from his latest studio album, Stick Season (We'll All Be Here Forever ), with several standout artists including Hozier, Lizzy McAlpine, and Gracie Abrams.

‘Stick Season’ refers to the period in between Autumn and Winter, when all the leaves have fallen off the trees but snow has not yet touched the ground. This metaphor perfectly describes the transitional season that marks the time right before the holidays. The simplistic instrumental that builds from just fingerpicking-style guitar to a full instrumental by the end of the song is incredibly well thought out and satisfying. As an East Coast native, Kahan’s consistent descriptive paintings of a New England winter make me feel right at home for the holidays.


"Rubble to Rubble" - Wilderado

Hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, this urban rock and folk trio has been releasing music since 2016. Current members Max Rainer and Tyler Wimpee met through mutual friends in college and began creating music together, later recruiting their third member Justin Kila. Having one full self-titled studio album released and a handful of singles and EPs, the band offers a great listening experience. The band has toured with some impressive names in the rock and folk sphere, including Lindsey Buckingham and Rainbow Kitten Surprise.

"Rubble to Rubble" beautifully summarizes the feeling of nostalgia for a childhood spent with family all around. The second verse specifically pays homage to the holiday season, with the lyric "there's a beauty in the silence that I chalk up to Christmastime." The folky instrumental and country-esque vocals particularly tug at my nostalgic heartstrings, and the song truly encapsulates the feeling of childlike optimism and wonder.


"tis' the damn season" - Taylor Swift

Iconic doesn't even begin to describe Taylor Swift's impact on the musical sphere and the world at large. She is currently going through the process of re-recording her old albums to have full ownership over her artistic masterpieces, and with every re-release, she is also dropping some unreleased songs. In her '{Taylor's version)' initiative, Swift demonstrates a beautiful and powerful notion of owning your own work and giving old and new fans alike a special treat with each album drop.

Released on Taylor Swift's 8th studio album Evermore, "tis' the damn season" details a story about reconnecting with an old flame over the holiday season. The instrumental is filled with a beautiful melodic guitar and sparse percussive elements that paint the picture of a cozy, homey winter. The lyricism is equally as beautiful, with the chorus featuring the notable lyrics "I'm staying at my parents' house, and the road not taken looks real good now," which articulates the feelings of longing for and reflecting on old relationships while home for the holidays.


"Home" - Michael Bublé

Often hailed as one of the kings of Christmas music, Michael Bublé's accolades stem far beyond his festive reputation. While he originally hails from British Columbia, Canada, his music attracts audiences from all around the world, as evident with his second studio album Call Me Irresponsible which peaked at number one on over four different countries' top 100 charts. He has four Grammy wins under his belt and has completed an impressive six concert tours globally.

"Home" details the feeling of nostalgia and longing for the comfort of home one might feel when they are away from loved ones in a place they feel comfortable in for a long time. He references how the days come and go throughout the year but the feeling of homesickness remains, and I think this concept resonates with many around the holiday season. The classic piano-based Bublé instrumental is fantastic as always, and the unmistakable familiarity of Bublé's vocals makes the song feel like it's the holiday season even if it's the middle of summer. Recently, Bublé released an even more festive version of this song, with lyric changes that more evidently depict a holiday season, accompanied by the iconic vocalist Cher.


"Winter Song" - The Head and the Heart

Formed in the Summer of 2009 by members Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, The Head and The Heart is a unique folk band that originated in Seattle, Washington. Aside from its founders, the band also includes Charity Rose Thielen, Chris Zasche, Kenny Hensley, and Tyler Williams. The name of the band originated from Josiah, as he explained: "Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you're supposed to do even if it's crazy." The band has five full-length studio albums as well as a few re-recordings and re-imaginings. If you're an indie lover, you will be sure to find many songs you enjoy within their discography.

This stripped-down masterpiece feels like singing around the blazing fire on a wintery night. The repeating motif of "I miss the days we had" parallels the feelings of reflection one might experience during the holidays. The steady percussion that comes in about halfway through the song compliments the fingerpicked guitar beautifully, and the utilization of both a male and female voice from the band enhances the track and proves that the feelings described throughout the lyrics are universal and widely applicable.


"Scott Street"- Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers is a singer-songwriter hailing from Los Angeles. Alongside releasing her impressive solo music, she is a member of the esteemed trio boygenius alongside Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Bridgers' celebrity is widely expanding, with eleven Grammy nominations and snagging a spot opening for Taylor Swift at the iconic Eras tour. She has collaborated with some big names of this generation such as SZA, Taylor Swift, The 1975, and The Killers, and recently performed as the musical guest for SNL alongside her other band members.

"Scott Street" is undeniably one of Bridgers' most popular and impressive tracks to date. The lyrics beautifully detail the feeling of catching up with an old friend or flame, with the second verse particularly outlining a conversation with an old friend that feels oddly similar to catching up with someone from your past over the holidays. The beautiful outro that arguably puts this song on the map feels like taking a walk on a peaceful snow-filled street in the middle of the night, with the percussive sound of twinkling bells and train horns reminding me of the Christmas hit The Polar Express.


"come out and play" - Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is a multi-platinum artist. With two full-length studio albums that each received multiple prestigious accolades, every artistic piece Eilish puts out is intentional and fantastic. With such an artistic ability, it is no wonder that at only 21 years old Eilish has swiped up seven Grammys and even a Guinness World Record for most consecutive Grammy nominations for Record of the Year as a woman. Eilish has recently confirmed that her next album is in its final stages, and fans are on the edge of their seat anticipating its release.

"come out and play" was initially released and used in a Christmas Apple Music ad, and the vibe of the song could not have been more perfect to ring in the festive season. The melodic guitar that guides the instrumental is simple but beautiful. However, the percussive elements of this track are what make it shine, with muted heartbeat-esque drums to start off the song that builds to hand claps and even eventually include what sounds like feet trudging in the winter snow. Eilish's distinctive and sweet vocals are perfect for the winter vibe, and the lyrics feel like looking out the window and seeing a magical winter wonderland.


"Winter Song" - Leslie Odom Jr.

Actor and singer Leslie Odom Jr. has a voice like butter and the acting chops to boot. While many may recognize him as the iconic Aaron Burr in the original cast of Hamilton, which earned him both a Tony Award and a Grammy Award, Odom's accolades span far beyond that. This New York native made his Broadway debut in 1998 and has since had a successful career as both an actor and singer on Broadway and the big screen. His independent music is something to be celebrated, with a particular favorite song of mine being "What Are We Waiting For?", a beautiful romantic duet that he released featuring his wife Nicolette Robinson.

Ok, two songs with the same name on the list is probably confusing, but these songs are completely different and both exude different vibes that compliment this time of year. Winter Song was originally written and performed by Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, but Odom's take on it smooths the vocals out and combined with a soft instrumental of muted keys and interesting percussive choices help you listen to and feel the lyrics on a personal level.

Check out the full Spotify playlist for this article here. What do you want to see covered on Enharmonic Magazine next? Let us know.



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