NPR logo Jingle Jams: A Holiday Mix From NPR Music

Jingle Jams: A Holiday Mix From NPR Music

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The Beatles on a toboggan in Austria in 1965. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Beatles on a toboggan in Austria in 1965.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It's a seasonal tradition to gripe miserably about the ubiquity of holiday music — about piped-in department-store drivel, CD sale racks bursting with holiday cash-ins, and all things cutesy, cloying and shrill. But let's face it: There's crass commercial junk, and then there's a rich canon of soul-stirring, nostalgia-inducing classics. Holiday-weariness is no match for the best of the best.

We asked 10 of NPR Music's partner stations to send us 10 of their favorite holiday songs, so this continuous stream is packed with gems. From Bach to The Ramones to Louis Armstrong, it's a perfect playlist for those who wish to indulge in the spirit of the season while remaining glued to the computer. Whether you're shopping online or trudging grimly through another workday, let Jingle Jams serve as your soundtrack.

[Note: These songs play in a continuous loop — you will be joining in midstream.]

The Playlist

  • "Jingle Bells," Diana Krall, Christmas Songs (Verve) [WDUQ]
  • "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," Frank Sinatra, Christmas With The Rat Pack [WXPN]
  • "Waltz of the Flowers," Cincinnati Pops dir. Erich Kunzel, Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Favorite Selections (Telarc 80674) [WGUC]
  • "Let it Snow," Leon Redbone, Christmas Island (Rounder) [Folk Alley]

    ID BREAK: Elena See from Folk Alley

  • "Fairytale of New York," The Pogues, The Best of the Pogues (WEA) [KUT]
  • "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)," The Ramones, The Edge Of Christmas (Oglio) [WXPN]
  • "White Christmas," The Drifters, Rockin' & Driftin': The Drifters Box (Rhino) [KUT]
  • "Distler: Est is ein Ros' entsprungen," Quink Ensemble, Carols Around the World (Telarc 80202) [WGBH]
  • "The Little Drummer Boy," The Moog Machine, Christmas Becomes Electric (Columbia) [WNYC]
  • "'Zat You, Santa Claus?" Louis Armstrong, Hipster's Holiday (Rhino) [WBGO/WDUQ]
  • "Last Month Of The Year," The Blind Boys of Alabama, Go Tell It On The Mountain (Real World) [WXPN]

    ID BREAK: David Dye from WXPN

  • "Ocho Kandelikas," Hankus Netsky & New England Conservatory Jewish Music Ensemble, A Taste of Chanukah (Rounder) [WGBH]
  • "For unto us...," London Philharmonic and John Aldiss Choir dir. Karl Richter, Handel: Messiah (Deutsche Grammophon 453028) [WGUC]
  • "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Richard Stoltzman, Hark!(RCA 61272) [WGUC]
  • "Silent Night," King's Singers, Christmas (Signum 502) [WGUC]
  • "My Holiday," Mindy Smith, My Holiday (Vanguard) [Folk Alley]
  • "Sleigh Ride," Sam Bush, Tinsel Tunes (Sugar Hill) [Folk Alley]
  • "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year [A Shrift Remix]," Andy Williams, A Six Degrees Collection: Christmas Remixed (Six Degrees) [WFUV]

    ID BREAK: Rita Houston from WFUV

  • "Christmas In Hollis," Run D.M.C., A Very Special Christmas (A&M) [WXPN]
  • "Santa Claus, Santa Claus," James Brown, Santa's Got A Brand New Bag (Rhino) [KUT]
  • "Santa Claus," Sonny Boy Williamson, Blue Yule: Christmas Blues and R&B Classics (Rhino) [WGBH]
  • "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Joseph Spence, Mas! A Caribbean Christmas Party (Rykodisc) [KUT]
  • "Pretty Paper," Willie Nelson [live at KUT]
  • "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies," Woody Phillips, A Toolbox Christmas [Folk Alley]
  • "Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)," Sufjan Stevens, Songs For Christmas (Asthmatic Kitty) [Folk Alley]
  • "Peanut Brittle Brigade," Duke Ellington, Three Suites (Columbia) [WBGO]

    ID BREAK: Gary Walker from WBGO

  • "The Christmas Song," Rob Schwimmer, The Tarquin Records All-Star Holiday Extravaganza (Tarquin Records) [WNYC]
  • "Bikkurim," Masada String Trio, Festival of Light (Six Degrees) [WDUQ]
  • "Dreidel Song," Grupo Fantasma, Austin WB Holiday Songs [KUT]
  • "Basie's Jingle Bells," Count Basie, Ultimate Jazz Christmas (Blue Note) [WDUQ]
  • "Christmas Time Is Here," Anita Baker, Christmas Fantasy (Blue Note) [WGBH]
  • "Blue Christmas," The Pretenders, Holiday EP (Shangri-La Music) [WXPN]
  • "Christmas in the Trenches," Robbie O'Connell, A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, Live (Rounder) [WGBH]
  • "Merry Christmas From The Family," Robert Earl Keen, Best (Koch) [WXPN]

    ID BREAK: David Dye from WXPN

  • "In dulci Jubilo," Renaissonics on WGBH's Carols for Dancing [live at WGBH]
  • "(An ancient Christmas song from the Hebridean Islands of Scotland)," Dougie MacLean on WGBH's A Celtic Christmas Sojourn 2007 [live at WGBH]
  • "Blue Christmas," Martin Sexton, Camp Holiday (Kitchen Table) [Folk Alley]
  • "Good King Wenceslas," Douglas Leedy, A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (Capitol) [WNYC]
  • "The Little Drummer Boy," Johnny Cash, The Christmas Spirit (Columbia)
  • "Oj maluski, maluski (Oh, My Little)," Poznan Nightingales, Najpiekniejsze Koledy (Muza PNCD 268) [APM]

    ID BREAK: Bill Morelock from American Public Media

  • "Back Door Santa," Clarence Carter, Soul Christmas (Atlantic) [KUT]
  • "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love, A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (Apple) [WXPN]
  • "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," The Jackson 5, Season's Greetings: The Millenium Collection (Hip-O) [WXPN]
  • "O Tannenbaum," Cambridge Singers dir. John Rutter, Christmas Night: Carols Of The Nativity (Collegium 106) [WGUC]
  • "Silver Bells," Dean Martin, Christmas With Dino (Capitol)
  • "The Angel In The Christmas Play," Spike Jones, Let's Sing a Song of Christmas (Verve)
  • "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," The Moog Machine, Christmas Becomes Electric (Columbia) [WNYC]
  • "In dulci jubilo," James Galway with Munich Radio Orchestra dir. John Georgiadis, In Dulci Jubilo: Christmas with James Galway (RCA 60736) [WGUC]

    ID BREAK: Mark Perzel from WGUC

  • "Carol of the Bells," Dianne Reeves, Christmas Time Is Here (Blue Note) [WDUQ]
  • "We Three Kings," Wynton Marsalis, Crescent City Christmas Card (Columbia) [WBGO]
  • "The Christmas Song," Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song (Capitol) [WBGO/WDUQ]
  • "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied!, BWV 190," Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists dir. John Eliot Gardiner, Bach: Cantatas Vol. 16 (Soli Deo Gloria 137) [WGBH]
  • "The Hallelujah Chorus," The Roches, The Collected Works of The Roches (Rhino) [WFUV]
  • "Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping EP (Ze) [KUT]
  • "Greensleeves," Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy) [WDUQ]

    ID BREAK: Bob Studebaker from WDUQ

  • "Blue Christmas," Low, Christmas (Sub Pop) [KUT]
  • "Blue Xmas," Miles Davis, Jingle Bell Swing (Columbia) [WBGO/WFUV]
  • "Blue Christmas," Nicole Atkins, The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs (Epic) [WFUV]
  • "Christmas '95," Michael Fracasso [live at KUT]
  • "Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus," George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Country Christmas (Rhino)
  • "I'll Be Home For Christmas," Martin Sexton, Camp Holiday (Kitchen Table) [WFUV]
  • "Fengidaid Nos," BBC Welsh Chorus dir. John Hugh Thomas, Celebration: Christmas Fanfares and Carols (Nimbus 5310) [APM]
  • "Still, Still, Still," Mary Chapin Carpenter, Come Darkness, Come Light (Zoe Records) [Folk Alley]

    ID BREAK: Elena See from Folk Alley

  • "Merry Christmas Baby," Charles Brown, Charles Brown's Cool Christmas Blues (Bullseye Blues) [WBGO]
  • "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," Oliver Jones, Yuletide Swing (Justin Time) [WBGO]
  • "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Ray Charles & Betty Carter, Dedicated To You (Rhino) [WFUV]
  • "Jingle Bells," The Puppini Sisters [live at WFUV]
  • "Jingle Bells," Jimmy Smith, Christmas Cookin' (Verve) [WBGO]
  • "Silent Night," Douglas Leedy, A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (Capitol) [WNYC]

    ID BREAK: David Garland from WNYC

  • "Ades: Fayrfax Carol," Choir of Kings College, Cambridge dir. Stephen Cleobury, On Christmas Day (EMI Classics 58070)
  • "While Shepherds Watched," Boston Camerata dir. Joel Cohen, An American Christmas (Erato 92874) [APM]
  • "Sussex Mummers' Carol," Paul Coletti, viola; Phillip Bush, piano, Master Play (MPR 207) [APM]
  • "The Many Moods of Christmas," Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus dir. Robert Shaw, The Many Moods of Christmas (Telarc 80087) [WGUC]

    ID BREAK: Mark Perzel from WGUC

  • "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)," The Smithereens, Christmas With The Smithereens (Koch) [WFUV]
  • "Must Be Santa," Brave Combo, [live at KUT]
  • "All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)," Spike Jones, Let's Sing a Song of Christmas (Verve)
  • "Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney," Ella Fitzgerald, Yule Be Miserable (Verve) [WDUQ]
  • "Sleigh Ride," Caribbean Jazz Project, Playboy's Latin Jazz Christmas (Concord) [WBGO]
  • "I Wonder as I Wander," Lissa Schneckenberger, Jed Wilson, Jake Brown & Aoife O'Donovan, [live at WGBH]
  • "Oh Holy Night," Karan Casey [live at WGBH]
  • "Merry Christmas from the Family," Jill Sobule, It's the Thought that Counts EP (self-released) [WFUV]
  • "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," Carol Egan, Justin Time for Christmas Four (Justin Time) [WDUQ]

    ID BREAK: Bob Studebaker from WDUQ

  • "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Sean Jones, Jazz Yule Love II (Mack Avenue) [WDUQ]
  • "O Holy Night," Mahalia Jackson, Mahalia Sings Songs of Christmas! (Columbia)
  • "It's a Wonderful Life," Royal Philharmonic dir. David Newman, Sundance Film Music Series Vol. 1 (Telarc 88801) [WGUC]
  • "We Three Kings," The Roches, We Three Kings (Rykodisc) [Folk Alley]
  • "Mary's Boy Child," Navan & Fionnuala O'Donovan [live at WGBH]
  • "Last Month of the Year," The Gourds with the Damnations [live at KUT]
  • "Christmas Time's a Comin'," Rhonda Vincent, Beautiful Star (Rounder) [Folk Alley]
  • "Adeste Fideles," Boston Camerata dir. Joel Cohen, An American Christmas (Erato 92874) [APM]
  • "Silent Night," Elisabeth Schwarzkopf with Ambrosian Singers/Philharmonia Orchestra dir. Charles Mackerras, The Christmas Album (EMI Classics 63574) [APM]

    ID BREAK: Bill Morelock from APM

  • "The 12 Days of Christmas," Harry Belafonte, Christmas Memories (RCA)
  • "Silver Bells," Chet Atkins, Christmas Memories (RCA)
  • "Mary Had a Baby," Jessye Norman, In the Spirit (Phillips)
  • "Hooray For Santa Claus," The Fleshtones, Stocking Stuffer (Yep Roc) [WFUV]
  • "Jingle Bells," Sy Mann & Jean-Jacques Perrey, Switched-On Santa (Pickwick) [WNYC]