All I Want for Christmas is Some New Holiday Releases of 2023

By: Natalie Dumonceaux

When I first moved to Montreal, people always told me about how the city completely (and literally) lights up around Christmas. Now, experiencing it for the first time myself, I see what all the excitement was about: all of the reindeer antler-shaped Christmas lights lining the streets of Old Port, every hole-in-the-wall cafe with their own twists on holiday drinks, and the liveliness of St. Catherine’s as tourists and locals alike storm in and out of Eaton Center. 

But if there’s one thing I could change about this time of year, it’s the chokehold that Mariah Carey and Michel Bubblé have on every store’s holiday playlist. As an ex-retail worker, I know just as much as anyone how desperately we need to switch things up. So, here are some of my recommendations for new holiday releases of 2023:

First up is an album that’s already (deservedly) gotten a lot of attention this year, and that is Cher’s first ever holiday release, Christmas (marketing team really got creative with that one). This album is perfect for getting yourself out of your seasonal depression slump; the energy gets higher and higher with each upbeat song. The opening track here is no exception: DJ Play a Christmas Song starts off pretty laid back in the verse, but it picks up for a club-worthy chorus in a very Cher-like fashion. And for everyone out there who’s somehow managed to not get sick of Mr. Christmas himself, there’s something for you too: Cher slows things down for a sweet and soulful duet featuring Michel Bubblé. But don’t let this track make you too cozied up- immediately following is Drop Top Sleigh Ride featuring Tyga, a fun upbeat tune with a rap verse that dare I say reminds me of a certain rap section from Canada’s favourite pre-pubescent holiday star in his cover of Little Drummer Boy.

My next recommendation is for all of the 90s babies out there. It’s Alanis Morrisette’s Christmas EP, Last Christmas. While there are no originals in the track list, Morrisette makes 4 classic holiday tunes sound new again with her powerful pipes. My favourite off of this EP has to be Little Drummer Boy, taking the win for its grandiose key changes and slick harmonies. Right next to this song is What Child is This, which I found really endearing, with only an acoustic guitar to back up Morisettes’ vocals. Towards the end comes a short but notable guitar solo that I thought added something extra special to this song. 

This list would really be missing something if it didn’t include Laufey’s new Christmas drop. While not a full holiday album (which I’m still holding out hope for from her- maybe next year?), Laufey’s cover of Winter Wonderland still definitely satisfied my jazz craving for the season. For anyone who doesn’t listen to Laufey: first of all, I’m sorry for your loss. But in all seriousness, this new up-and-coming artist is doing wonders in bringing an older genre back for newer generations, combining her traditional jazzy vocals with relatable contemporary lyrics about hopeless romanticism. Keep an eye out for Laufey at the Grammys this year; she’s up for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for her album Bewitched, marking her first ever nomination at the awards!

Finally, my top pick of the season is folk singer Alela Diane’s It’s Always Christmas Somewhere, released December 8th. From the series of classic holiday tunes with an indie folk twist, fitting so perfectly with Diane’s dark but warm and full tone, to the charming album cover picturing kids gathered round a piano in a cozy living room, listening to this makes me feel like I’m looking through an old Christmas photo album. The most honourable mention for me comes towards the end of the track list, called The Santa’s Gospel. This is a play-off of Diane’s most popular song, also the title track of her first studio album, The Pirate’s Gospel, released in 2006. If you haven’t heard this song, I’d really recommend giving it a listen. It’s a beautiful folk song that talks about the bittersweet feeling of moving on and coming to accept that everything in this life, the good and the bad, is temporary. Diane made a few clever changes in The Santa’s Gospel to Christmas-ify this track, including adding faint sleigh bells to the instrumentals, and changing the lyrics towards the end from “Yo-Ho” to “Ho-Ho” – a very sweet touch, in my opinion. 

Overall, the music industry did not disappoint with new sounds this holiday season. So, as you get yourself in the spirit to distract yourself from the finals you should so urgently be studying for, consider swapping out Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe for something a bit more fresh with some of these suggestions.