The Motley Christmas Playlist


Music Editor Cathal Donovan O’Neill gifts you the hollyist, jolliest of Christmas jams

It’s that time of year again! From December 1st onwards, every radio station will be in Christmas mode. You’re about to drown in a deluge of Mariah Carey, The Pogues and, God help you, John Lennon. It can be fun, but sometimes you need a break. Something a little different. That’s where we come in. I’ve mixed some reworks and slightly left-of-field picks in with old reliables to create the perfect playlist to chug eggnog to. Hopefully you’ll find a few new favourites!

In descending order

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como. Get that cosy fire roasting to this Christmas crooner classic.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Leslie Odom Jr.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Bad Religion. If somebody’s going to kick off the Christmas Argument, it might as well be you. It’s a fact universally acknowledged that setting hymns to rock music makes them savage, and this proves the point.

Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby/David Bowie.

Christmas In Hollis – Run-D.M.C. Swinging back into an upbeat, this Christmas parable’s pure wholesome fun with a catchy hook.

Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid. A staple that deserves its position. The message is still relevant, the chorus’s call and response iconic; often imitated, never bettered.

All I Want For Christmas Is You – My Chemical Romance. I love Mariah Carey. You love Mariah Carey. But I’m writing this in early November and I’m already sick of her. MCR’s version reinvents the glittery drive of the song, along with its desperation. I’m glad to have them back.

Human Nature – Vijay Iyer Trio. 2019 was… Not kind to Michael Jackson. Thankfully this is a near-complete rework of the original, shifting it into warm, playful jazz. It just makes you want to cuddle up to your partner.

Christmas Night In Harlem – Louis Armstrong. 

We All Stand Together – Paul McCartney. The best Beatles Christmas song. Paul McCartney pretends he’s a frog and meows at one point, but it’s an odd, lovely declaration of community.

Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto – Nate Dogg ft. Snoop Dogg. Snoop’s best Christmas song, of which there are surprisingly many. Some good bars from the Santa Dogg and his cousin Nate, and extremely funky.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town – Bruce Springsteen. The only Christmas song with children that doesn’t deserve the sack.

My Favorite Things – John Coltrane.

Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord – Boney M. are great, and you should never trust anyone who doesn’t like ‘Rasputin’.

Carol of the Bells – Pentatonix. This acapella version of one of the better carols is a little cheesy, but it really pulls it off. Has a little ‘Game of Thrones’ to it, too!

My Dear Acquaintance – Regina Spektor. It isn’t a Christmas playlist without a sad song. Spektor’s voice is tender and tear jerking against a simple piano backing.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby. Bing’s the master and this archetype of The Christmas Song will never get old. Plus, it’s a good segue back to the start of this playlist.


And that’s a wrap for 2019! Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading. Being part of the Motley staff’s the best decision I’ve made this year, and I’m already thinking about next year’s articles. I hope your time off brings you everything you need right now, whether it’s good food, hard cash or just a damn break. To me, Christmas is about the friends and family you spend it with, and the ones with whom you no longer can. Be kind to yourself and the ones you love.

Have a safe and happy Christmas, and best of luck with the exams!

[You can find this playlist at]