Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I have enjoyed doing Christmas and winter concerts with my learners… once I moved away from traditional Christmas songs. I mean, many of those have stood the test of time for a reason but they are overly religious and let’s face it–if I hear “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” again, I might just pull my ears off!
Even some Christmas rock and pop classics that have become staples in the Christmas and winter repertoire like “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” just make me want to rage-quit music. Here are some alternatives that work well with a “Glee Style” choir. By this I mean soloists for the verses and choir for backups and chorus with some movement. Some would work with a traditional style choir as well.
1. “Shake Up Christmas” by Train
This is a great upbeat song with some really neat rhythm work in the verses and a catchy hook in the chorus. A little low for some elementary voices but it can easily be transposed.
2. “Christmas Time” by Bryan Adams
I can’t get enough of this song, and that chord progression in the verse with the G to G# melodic pattern is just brings me joy (nerd). This would be an easy one for a rock group to play on instruments as well.
3. “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay
This one has to be my most favourite Christmas song ever! Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone but then this song reminds us that there is always hope. Some of the lyrics aren’t overly appropriate for an elementary group but can be altered slightly to fit.
4. “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles
A beautiful song about love and death. Reminding us again that winter isn’t always a happy time. This one is in a great key for young singers.
5. “Happy Xmas” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
The classic John Lennon tune about peace at Christmas time. It sends such a positive message and it’s a great way to end a winter or Christmas concert. I use it often for my Winter Glee Choir. It’s perfect for a children’s choir too because it already has one in the original song.
6. “Christmas Love” by Billy Idol
Not a typical song from Billy Idol but did you know he has an entire Christmas album? His rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” is something you need to hear and then never listen to again. You will never hear “Frosty” the same again. This original is pretty catchy and easy to play too.
7. “Peppermint Winter” by Owl City
A playful, kid-friends ballad about winter time and Christmas. This one is in pretty low key for young singers and will have to be transposed. I’ve used BandLab to transpose this up so kids can hear it.