Stream: The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2022

Cover image by Karsten Winegeart via

We’ve been making this (play)list, checking it twice and totally disregarding whether you’ve been naughty or nice. And here’s our annual collection of seasonal tunes, “The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2022.”

Judging from our (hundreds of) emails, the Christmas music biz is booming. (Seems like every country singer in Nashville released something, for instance.) As always, our selection mixes original songs with covers, leaning toward the former. This year, featured artists include Titus Andronicus, Sam Smith, Joss Stone, Crowder, Kurt Vile, Brett Dennen, Christian Lee Hutson, Phoebe Bridgers, Lindsey Stirling, PJ Harding, Sufjan Stevens, the Offspring, Stars, Future Islands, the Linda Lindas, Moonalice, Freedom Fry, Chris Isaak, Kadhja Bonet, Tyrone Wells and more. We’ll be adding to this mix as more songs are released over the next couple of weeks. We’ve included notes on each release beneath the player.

And if you’re the type to binge, follow these links for our previous Wholly Holiday mixes:

The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2021
The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2020
The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2019
The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2018
The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2017
The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2016

||| Stream: The Wholly Holiday Music Mix, 2022

Titus Andronicus, “Drummer Boy” — What if Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and the seasonal chestnut “Little Drummer Boy” had a baby? Or a baby Jesus, maybe? The New Jersey punk band answers the question with a song only “Weird Al” Yankovic might imagine. Nicking Joel’s melody, frontman Patrick Stickles writes the lyrics to make the nativity story the drummer boy’s, with the bassist reciting a passage from The Gospel of Luke (yes, the one from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). Go here for the lyrics.

Freedom Fry, “Christmas (All Over the World Tonight)” — Warm your spirit with this new original from the duo of Bruce Driscoll and Marie Seyrat.

PJ Harding & Noah Cyrus, “Snow in LA” — Harding and Cyrus harmonize sweetly on a melancholy holiday tune that they say is “reminiscent of traditional Christmas carols (with all their reverence and hope) but contrasted by images of catastrophic climate change and looming fascism that represent so many of our fears for the future.”

Moonalice, “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” — Eighty-two-year-old Lester Chambers and Moonalice update this timeless Chambers Brothers song for this year’s holiday season.

JYNX, “High 4 Christmas” — The electro duo of Kii Arens and Beck Black have one idea for how to survive the holidays.

The Linda Lindas, “Groovy Xmas” — The cherub punkers from L.A. get jolly on a rocker inspired, they say, by the holiday songs from bands they admire, like Alice Bag, Redd Kross and Shonen Knife.

Future Islands, “Last Christmas” — Talk about a good fit: The Baltimore electro outfit covers Wham!

Distant Cousins, “My Eight Favorite Nights” — The L.A. folk trio’s typically great harmonies elevate this song, which was written by Brad Delson of Linkin Park and will appear in the Hallmark Channel Film “Hanukkah on Rye,” premiering Sunday.

Bishop Briggs, “Cheer” — The L.A.-based singer-songwriter (and new mom) checks in with a warm, upbeat holiday track. “I hope this song brings that twinkle back into your eyes and an eagerness for some hot cocoa,” she says.

TK Rhodes, “Christmas on Tour” — TK Rhodes (aka Kyle Tkatch of L.A. indie-pop group Karmic) teams up with multi-instrumentalist Josh Lippi (Los Days) on a new original.

Stars, “Christmas Anyway” — The Canadian indie-pop luminaries check in with a bittersweet gem. Buy it on Bandcamp to support the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.

Rosie Thomas & Sufjan Stevens, “We Should Be Together” — In 2018, Rosie Thomas released the album “A Very Rosie Christmas.” Now she’s back with Sufjan Stevens on a gorgeously atmospheric track.

Sara Noelle, “I’ll Sleep ’Til Christmas” — “This song is about fast-forwarding until Christmas, a time that somehow sheds all the craziness of the year and brings some respite and a bit of quiet magic,” the L.A. singer-songwriter says of her third annual holiday single.

Silversun Pickups, “Just Like Christmas” — The L.A. quartet cover Low to honor the late Mimi Parker. Proceeds from the Butch Vig-produced song will be donated to Union Gospel Mission, a charity of Low’s choice, in Parker’s name. “We’ve been fans of Low’s beautiful music for a long time now, SSPU’s Brian Aubert said. “When we heard the news about Mimi’s passing, we were incredibly sad. With [Alan Sparhawk’s] blessing, we decided to cover one of their Christmas songs, with hopes of raising money for a cause dear to Alan in Mimi’s name.”

Ronnie Martin, “Of Garland Bright” — The long-running SoCal songwriter (who helms the band Joy Electric) just released a full album of holiday originals titled “Bells Merrily.”

Lindsey Stirling, “Snow Waltz” — The pop violinist has gone all in on Christmas; this is the title track of a holiday album she released in October. She plays the Pantages Theatre on Dec. 23.

Steve Barton & Friends, “Just Like Christmas” — The frontman of ’80s faves Translator teams up with “friends” on a holiday original, and a nice bunch of friends it is: Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Debbi Peterson, Dave Scheff and (producer) Steve Berlin.

Nelson, “This Christmas” (feat. Carnie and Wendy Wilson) — From the album “A Nelson Family Christmas,” this holiday original wins the Hall of Fame award. Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are the sons of Ricky Nelson, grandsons of Ozzie Nelson, and their childhood pals Carnie and Wendy Wilson are Brian Wilson’s daughters. The album includes tracks from the library of the elder Nelsons.

Phoebe Bridgers, “So Much Wine” — It’s the sixth year in a row that the L.A. singer-songwriter has released a holiday single, devoting the proceeds to charity. The Handsome Family cover “So Much Wine” benefits the Los Angeles LGBT Center and features, among others, Andrew Bird on vocals, violin and whistling.

We Are the Union, “Yr Always Alone (On Christmas)” — Michigan-bred, L.A.-based ska-punks We are the Union have a Christmas original on New York label I Surrender Records’ holiday compilation, “I Surrender Sleighs” (out Friday).

Gangstagrass x Kosha Dillz, “Happy Chinooka” — Ganstagrass teams up with the rapper on a Hanukkah song that’ll have you smiling from ear to ear. “It is the first-ever bluegrass hip hop Hanukkah jam,” he says. “We were inspired by the great Smokey Robinson when he went viral for saying ‘Happy Chi-noo-ka.’” Kosha brings the party in the hilarious video. The song appears on Gangstagrass’ new EP, “Sugarplums and Whiskey.”

The Offspring, “Bells Will Be Ringing (Please Come Home for Christmas)” — Our trend-spotters note that back in 2020, the veteran SoCal punk-rockers covered “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” This year brings their take on the Charlie Brown classic.

American Authors, “Christmas Karaoke” — This original from the Brooklyn trio possesses the requisite cheer.

Kadhja Bonet, “Little Christmas Tree” — “I am Charlie Brown and he is me,” the L.A.-based singer-songwriter says of the track from her forthcoming covers EP, “California Holiday.”

Michigander, “Snow in Montana” — Singer-songwriter and Michigan native Jason Singer collaborates with vocalists Gabrielle Grace, Moony and Abby Holliday on this original.

Chris Isaak, “Run Rudolph Run” — A variety of seasonal songs are in Chris Isaak’s capable hands on his album “Everybody Knows It’s Christmas.”

Joss Stone, “Bring on Christmas Day” — This is one of two originals on the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter’s new holiday album, “Merry Christmas, Love.”

Sam Smith, “Night Before Christmas” — The U.K. balladeer, whose new album comes out in January, adds to his previously released holiday collection, “The Holly and the Ivy,” with a new original.

James Casey, “Christmafunk” — “Give me the horns,” exclaims the saxophonist-singer on his holiday original, one of the tracks on his “A Little Something For Everyone” EP.

Bluphoria, “When the Snow Falls” — The Eugene, Ore., quartet checks in with a brisk holiday original. “I am a fan of Christmas music,” frontman Reign LaFreniere says, “and I didn’t want to just chuck another cover song out there.”

Crowder, “Ballad of Mrs. C (She’s Sick of the Beard)” — Have a chuckle with this track from the album “Milk and Cookies: A Merry Crowder Christmas.”

Los Bitchos, “Los Chrismos” — The London four-piece’s instrumental is part of the expanded edition of the album “Let The Festivities Begin!”

Joe Normal, “Christmas in a Blue-Collar Town” — Natives of blue-collar towns (raises hand) and fans of garage-pop will find Normal’s holiday original irresistible.

Tyrone Wells, “Santa Rode a T-Rex” — Wouldn’t the kids be stoked if, instead of a sleigh, Santa Claus arrived atop a dinosaur?

Havana Winter, “Daddy’s Kissing Santa Claus” — The 16-year-old Norwegian-American songstress witnesses a very interesting development in her campy single. There’s a wild video, too.

War Hippies, “O Holy Night” — The cover of this holiday chestnut comes courtesy of the new Nashville duo of Marine and Army combat veterans (respectively) Scooter Brown and Donnie Reis.

Gabrielle Ruiz, “Twinkle Twinkle” — Actress Gabrielle Ruiz (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) collaborated with songwriters Chensiang Tiow and Charlie Malcom to pen this spiritual.

Brett Dennen, “Christmas Train” — The California singer-songwriter has a new EP, “Brett Dennen’s Xmas, Vol. 1.”

Zach Hood, “Long Distance Christmas” — The L.A.-based pop singer really misses his hometown in Alabama this time of year.

Christian Lee Hutson, “Silent Night” — The L.A. singer-songwriter rewrites the holiday classic for those who feel lonely while stuck in a checkout line.

Maggie Cubillos, “A Colder Christmas” — Have yourself a melancholy / hopeful litlte piano ballad from the Hermosa Beach native and current student at Berklee.

Kurt Vile, “Must Be Santa” — Vile’s daughters join him on this cover, recorded for the Spotify Singles series.

Lauren Spencer Smith, “Single on the 25th” — The 19-year-old “American Idol” alum needs someone with whom to roast chestnuts on an open fire.

Lola Kirke, “Christmas Alone” — Along those same lines, the singer-songwriter-actress gets twangy while lamenting, “All I get for Christmas is tears.” It’s the title track to an EP she has released via Third Man Records.