The Root’s Holiday Playlist

An irreverent listening guide to some Christmas classics.

I still believe in Christmas. It is the one time of the year that I believe the world will stay upright, that people are inherently good and kind, and that slow drivers aren’t out to deter me from getting to my destination as fast as possible. I believe in the Christmas spirit, the idea that it’s infectious and that smiles and “thank yous” are a direct symptom of catching it. I believe in Santa and flying reindeer and unexpected gifts. I believe in macaroni and cheese with a nicely crusted top. I believe in getting a tree and trimming it, even if the wallet is tight. I believe in the power of Christmas music, which is why I keep a Christmas mix in my car at all times; it is the one thing that can make me feel like a child instantly. Christmas music is my yoga. It is the only music that doesn’t discriminate by age or race. A Christmas mix is just as likely to have Ol’ Blue Eyes next to ODB. So, I give you Christmas.

Top five Christmas songs that people need to stop trying to copy

1. “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway, whose voice held all the pain of blackness, opens himself into this song to make Christmas soulful and loving. This song makes you wish you could sing. Because voices like his, Marvin’s and Stevie’s hold a pain as tangible and fragile as a perfectly crafted snow angel.

2.  “Silent Night” by The Temptations

They filet’d it, barbecued it and then killed it. Especially at the end when the lead starts explaining how he sits alone at the fireplace. This song is the song I wait to hear every Christmas.

3.  “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt

Can you name another Eartha Kitt song? Seriously. That is how you know she owns this song. Some people have tried. All have failed. They may have had a stronger voice than Kitt, but they can’t pull off the soft seduction that makes Santa want to give up that red bag with all his earnings.

4.  “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole