It has been a comparatively slow season this year for Christmas and general holiday-themed kids music, at least compared to previous years. But that doesn't mean we've been left with coal. Hanukkah and Christmas are only a week away, so let's jump in!
First, there's the first holiday song from Charlie Hope -- she's released a jolly and bright rendition of "Up on the Rooftop." For the moment, you can still download it for free via the Soundcloud widget below!
Charlie Hope - "Up on the Rooftop" [Soundcloud]
If Hope's track offers a simple reminder of youthful anticipation, the following track from Lard Dog and the Band of Shy serves up a blast of Christmas rebellion. It's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but a version unlike you've ever heard before, mixing in "Wild Thing," the Ramones" and even "Dreidel, Dreidel" into the holiday classic. I really like both Hope's and Lard Dog's tracks, but they are toooootally different strains of Christmas songs, y'all. Anyway, grab the free download at Lard Dog's website.
And while I would not have expected "hard-rocking" to be the most prevalent holiday song type, with Annie Lynn's "I Kept Your Present," that is, in fact, the case. What to do when you find the perfect gift... for you, not for the person you bought it for? This song has the answer. You can stream it on Soundcloud, but the better version by far is her video. The hands slay me.
Annie Lynn - "I Kept Your Present" [YouTube]
I'm sure I've missed some of this year's holiday music made specifically for kids -- let me know if I have [Ed: I did! Thanks, Sagan, for the reminders and heads up!]
A modern, electronic take on some holiday music comes from the Bay Area's Liz DeRoche, AKA The Singing Lizard. There's not much on her Holiday Party EP that is specifically kid-focused, but the arrangements are fresh and worth exploring, even if you don't happen to have any little ones around.
The Singing Lizard - Holiday Party [Bandcamp]
Speaking of modern takes on Christmas music for kids, Minnesota's Uncle Dox features some fast but laid-back rhymes on "Santa." There's been some really good hip-hop music for kids, and some good Christmas and holiday music for kids, but I'm hard-pressed to think of many hip-hop holiday music for kids. This fits in that small Venn diagram intersection for sure.
Uncle Dox - "Santa" [Soundcloud]
A mellower take on some Christmas songs comes courtesy of Father Goose, who gets Dan Zanes, Sonia De Los Santos and others to help out "Irie Christmas." As you might suspect from the title, his take on a few Christmas classics gets mashed together with a reggae beat.
Father Goose - "Irie Christmas" [Spotify]
While we're on the Spotify edge of the world, how about something new from Colorado's Steve Weeks? It's been a while, right? Well, if you're looking for a tender ode to family togetherness or the meaning of the season, whatever your spiritual persuasion, you won't find it here. Unless, of course, "Decorate the Cat" is how you celebrate the solstice. Maybe it is. I'm not judging. In any case, this is a pretty amusing song. (Again, unless, you're very much anti-cat-decorating.)
Steve Weeks - "Decorate the Cat" [Spotify]
Moving on, then, back to videos and something slightly more sincere. The video below comes courtesy of Sara Lovell.
It's for "Wake Up It's Christmas Time," and it's one of those Christmas songs that celebrates the Christmas season mostly cultural and not spiritually, but makes an effort to celebrate the "spirit of the season," as it were in a most welcoming and non-exclusionary way.
The video itself is pretty simple -- Lovell strumming her (tenor?) ukulele in the woods -- but as a vehicle for the song itself, it works just fine.
Sara Lovell - "Wake Up It's Christmas Time" [YouTube]
You'll notice that these features have been very much in the Christmas realm, albeit secularly and culturally. Luckily, we have at least one entry this year full-on celebrating Hanukkah, which, unbeknownst to me, is now 25% more festival-ly. Let the Macaroons explain in their animated video for "10 Days of Hanukkah."
The Macaroons - "10 Days of Hanukkah" [YouTube]
Finally (he says, not sure what else might come down the pike), there's the latest Caspar Babypants album, Winter Party!.
I'll be honest -- I totally forgot about this album. I mean, I got it in, what? July? August? It's, like, 110 degrees here then, and, well... I really have no excuse, but now we're here in December and we're smack-dab in prime holiday-listening music time.
Winter Party is every bit as delightful and whimsical as you'd expect a Caspar Babypants holiday album. You can stream the entire album via YouTube below, but above that, how about his take -- nature focused as always -- on "The Twelve Days of Christmas?"
Caspar Babypants - "The Twelve Days of Christmas" [YouTube]
Anyway, the songs are a nice mix of traditional songs (including folk songs reworked so that they are holiday songs) and a few originals. Having said that, the Christmas songs are reworked lyrically so that they're not specifically Christian in the spirit of inclusiveness, but that could throw people who are used to the original lyrics of, say, "Silent Night."
If that doesn't bother you, you'll find Winter Party to be lots of fun (and, frankly, even if you do, you'll be able to skip the couple tracks on which that happens). I think it's definitely recommended.
Caspar Babypants - "Winter Party" [YouTube]