When it comes to Christmas music, there are the classics, recorded time and time again by various artists. We all know and love them, but we especially love when a country artist comes along and creates a unique take on a tried and true classic. After hearing Mason Ramsey’s swinging take on “White Christmas,” we started thinking about other classic songs that have been uniquely countrified.
Here are six of our favorite Christmas classics that have been reimagined with a new spin.
1. Lady Antebellum – “All I Want for Christmas is You”
While Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas hit “All I Want for Christmas is You,” is an undeniable bop, Lady Antebellum released a very different take on the song as part of 2012 their holiday album, On This Winter’s Night. Rather than cheery sleigh bells and uptempo music, Lady A turns the cheery chart-topper into a somber ballad. This version truly allows the song’s lyrics to shine, bringing them to the forefront, as the trio, led by Hillary Scott, sing of longing and loneliness during the holiday season.
2. Little Big Town – “Go Tell It On the Mountain”
While “Go Tell It on the Mountain” dates back as early as 1865, it’s Little Big Town’s countrified version that breathes new life into the tried and true classic. Where LBT always shines is in their unmatched harmonies, which are on full display here. Over a fully countrified instrumentation of the Gospel classic, Karen Fairchild leads the foursome through a spirited and uplifting take on the classic, proclaiming, “Go tell it on the mountain/ Over the hills and everywhere / Go tell it on the mountain / That Jesus Christ is born.” Come for the harmonies, stay for the guitar solo around 1:30.
3. Sugarland – “Holly Jolly Christmas”
While “A Holly Jolly Christmas” was originally written in 1962, it’s the 1964 version that appeared in the Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and sung by Burl Ives, that is perhaps the most well-known. However, it’s Sugarland’s 2009 version off of their holiday album, Gold and Green, that makes our list. Unlike most Sugarland songs, Kristian Bush takes the lead here, with Jennifer Nettles lending background vocals. While Bush leads the first chorus and verse, the magic begins about a minute and a half in, while he sings “Holly Jolly Christmas,” over Nettles’ singing of “Winter Wonderland.” Believe us when we say it more than works, it’s a must-listen.
4. Taylor Swift – “Last Christmas”
Taylor Swift’s take on this 1986 Wham tune first appeared on her 2007 Christmas EP, released exclusively at Target stores. Her version of the eighties hit is much more curly-haired, guitar hugging, country “Tim McGraw” Taylor, than the Swift of the Reputation and 1989 eras. While her Big Machine Label Group version of “Last Christmas” is definitely in the country realm, we’d love to hear Swift re-release this track in 2018. Since the old Taylor can’t come to the phone (Why? Because she’s dead.), we’d love to hear the new Taylor’s take on the Wham classic.
5. Toby Keith – “Frosty the Snowman”
Originally recorded in 1950, “Frosty the Snowman” tells the tale of a snowman who comes to life and is best-known for accompanying a television cartoon of the same name. Toby Keith recorded the track as part of his two-disc A Classic Christmas Collection, and his version stays true to the original, with a distinctly country take. With banjos and steel guitar, it’s easy to imagine Keith’s frosty coming to life on a snow-covered farm somewhere in the South, and sporting a cowboy hat instead of his classic “old silk hat.”
6. Kelly Clarkson, Reba & Trisha Yearwood – “Silent Night”
While “Silent Night” has been performed for nearly 200 years, with its first performance dating back to Christmas Eve in present-day Austria, it’s this 2013 version that is sure to give you goosebumps. When Clarkson released her holiday album, Wrapped in Red, she tapped Reba and Trisha Yearwood for a new take on “Silent Night.” It begins with Clarkson, who is then joined by Yearwood, and then Reba, each new verse layered with the other women’s vocals. While the entire song is superb, it’s the completely acapella finale that takes this version to a whole different level. Truly, they sleigh it.
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