A Very Indie Christmas

A Very Indie Christmas, Playlist, Christmas Songs, Holiday music, Laufey, dodie, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, The Pogues, Sufjan Stevens, WERS 88.9 FM
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

When you get tired of the Christmas classics, our writing staff has some suggestions for songs you can turn to, all with an indie flare. From all three boygenius members’ holiday covers to an original by the Pogues, we hope you’ll find something you like and that you’ll have A Very (merry) Indie Christmas! 



Last year’s installment of Phoebe Bridgers’ most devastating holiday tradition, “So Much Wine” is the pinnacle of indie-folk Christmas. Originally released by the Handsome Family in 2000, the 2022 single was Bridgers’ sixth annual Christmas cover. Her impressive ability to make the happiest time of year completely gut-wrenching never falters when the covers come around. “So Much Wine” deals with heavy themes of dysfunctional family dynamics around the holidays, but it remains an instant classic, and will surely be one of your favorites.

- Avieana Rivera, Staff Writer



Most indie music-lovers are aware of Phoebe Bridgers’ December holiday covers, but did you know fellow Boygenius member Julien Baker released one of her own just a few years back? Baker took on “A Dreamer’s Holiday” by Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. Released over seven decades apart (the original being from 1949), it’s obvious in listening to the two side-by side that J.B. gives it a modern spin. But what’s even more special about Baker’s version — aside from her unsurprisingly talented guitar work and vocals — is her pacing. She slows it down ever-so-slightly, letting each line of lyrics linger just a few seconds longer. For listeners, this means an ability to dive deeper into envisioning each dreamy detail that the lyrics build a picture of.  

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator



Though many covers of Wham!’s 1984 classic “Last Christmas” bless the airways each season, Lucy Dacus’ 2019 cover of the song, straight off of her EP 2019, rejuvenates the song into something completely different. Instead of the original’s mellow, synth-based composition, Dacus turns “Last Christmas” into a campy rock extravaganza. Her rendition perfectly encapsulates the rage that comes with being burned in a relationship, especially around the holidays. The take on this modern holiday classic should be a big hit at parties with the year that Dacus and her band, Boygenius, have had

- Ren Gibson, Staff Writer



Fans (and newly discovered enjoyers) of each Laufey and dodie got an early Christmas present this year when the two teamed up to cover “Winter Weather,” but retitled it “Love to Keep Me Warm.” dodie has been an indie darling since 2011, known for her ukulele-bearing singer-songwriter Youtube presence. Chinese-Icelandic artist Laufey’s popularity primarily took off the past two years in America, with people drawn to her rich alto vocals and style of music that often incorporates jazz, romantic pop and bossa nova styles. The unexpected but powerful pairing brings a fresh, but timeless perspective to the song, originally recorded by the Benny Goodman Orchestra and Peggy Lee. It relies less on horns than the original does, instead opting for a piano-led track. Touches of strings and a subtle horn bring warmth to the song that already exudes such coziness through the endearing lyrics and smooth vocals.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator



If you need a more realistic take on the holiday experience, try “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kristy MacColl. In the song, a struggling couple argues on Christmas Eve, but they periodically stop the fight to admire the beauty of the city during the holidays. A duet between the band’s singer Shane MacGowan and MacColl, “Fairytale of New York” features the Pogues’ typical Irish punk style, as well as amazing harmonies and chemistry on the part of the two singers. I especially recommend listening to this song this year to honor MacGowan, who sadly passed away at the end of November. The storytelling of this song is masterful, and if you’ve heard the Christmas hits a few too many times, consider adding a punk spin to your holiday season. 

- Annie Sarlin, Staff Writer



With a whopping 100 released Christmas songs across two clearly extensive box sets, Sufjan Stevens likely deserves to be crowned the victor of indie Christmas… not that it’s a competition. Admittedly, I have only shuffled through some of the covers and originals, rather than all hundred, but one that immediately stood out to me was the less popular, “It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad.” The original is concise, clocking in at just under two minutes. It’s fit with rhyming lyrics, banjo and layered vocals. This combination presents a slightly different sound for Stevens and has a more encouraging tone than some of his other tracks. The end result is something that preaches, “even if your life’s been bad,” everyone can find something to appreciate about the holiday.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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