I'm not 100% sure why I'm enjoying Spotify so much. There are a number of things I don't like about it, and the top one is having to install a desktop application. However, that's a post for a different time.
I set myself the goal of coming up with the Best Xmas Playlist Ever. But I couldn't do it. After working on it off and on for a couple weeks, I've created six playlists so far.
One more editorial precursor: I've been really happy with the selection of Xmas albums available on Spotify. There were quite a few I'd been wanting to listen to or buy and I've found many more worth listening to.
The Best Xmas Playlist Ever is really more of a goal than a fact. And the parameters are pretty confined. I've tried to pick stuff my friends would want to hear. I have tried not to over-represent any one album or artist (this resulted in playlist two, below). This playlist is semi-serious and tends to refer to Jesus in some way.
If you're interested, here's how you should use it: I doubt many people will be interested in listening straight through. Pick a song or artist you think you might like. If you like the song and want to hear more, click over to the album or albums.
The second playlist is Merry Sufjan Christmas!, only selections from Sufjan Stevens' five-volume (though they're basically EP-length) Songs for Christmas. This remains my favorite Xmas album (I think this is the fourth year running). I've narrowed it down to 27 tracks that Spotify says run for one hour. I hope you'll give Sufjan a try if you haven't yet. If you like these selections, you should listen to the whole album. (Important note: If you don't normally like Sufjan's music, we have that in common. I love his Xmas music, but basically don't listen to anything else of his.)
I think my favorite thing about Sufjan's Xmas songs is he seems to come from a real place of reverence for the faith and tradition. From that point of departure, he does standards but also cheesy originals and downright depressive commentaries (especially the epic 'That was the worst Christmas ever').
Third: no comprehensive collection of Christmas music would be complete for me without Fun, Silly Xmas/Winter Songs. They just didn't fit, for me, in the main, relating-to-Jesus list.
Finally, a couple of outliers. Best Xmas Rejects/non-Spotify is a list of songs that didn't fit in the lists above or aren't available on Spotify so I can only listen to them through the Spotify app on my computer. Some good songs here, some I wanted to just keep track of, one amazingly cheesy song from my childhood: stuff like that.
Favorite New Christmas Songs is short: my four favorite songs I heard for the first time this year. Jars of Clay's 'O, Little Town of Bethlehem' is my favorite single this year off of my favorite new-to-me Xmas album of the year. Low is a 'slowcore' band I've been enjoying. Shawn Colvin's 'Little Road to Bethlehem' is sweet. And how did I live this many years without hearing Jackson Browne's Rebel Jesus? Jackson and I would disagree pretty quickly about Jesus, but he's got some nice critique of the excesses of the season and a good, strong point about Jesus' concern for the poor.
And then I started Classic Carols last night and it only includes one album so far and is a total work in progress.
If you've read this far you must: a) really love me (hi, Christine! :-) or b) have some similar geeky music bordering-on-OCD characteristics. I conceive of projects like this, then want to be comprehensive, and usually give up. In this case, it ballooned into something I'm sure beyond the interest of my audience. But there you have it.