5 alternative Christmas songs for festive academic writing

Are you, like me, trying to write during this final week before Christmas? Here’s five alternative tunes to keep you going. 

Five days to go. The end is near. It’s the last week of semester 1 and I cannot wait for Friday. Yes, yes, I know I’m on sabbatical but contrary to popular belief I’m still working you know!

I’m trying (unsuccessfully at the moment) to get a head start on some none-PhD writing projects. I have a long list. To be honest I’m a little overwhelmed by the number of ideas I have swirling about. My Scrivener folder is populated by part-written drafts and random scribblings. Time perhaps to have a good think about what should come first, and what can wait. 

But thinking and writing in silence will not do.  It’s Christmas time. There’s no need to be afraid of REF-readiness and book chapter deadlines you agreed to back in July when you skipped your way through metaphorical fields of wheat and had apparently forgotten the crushing realities of academic life. We need some festive tunes.  Mariah Carey, you say? That Buble fella? The 2014 Band Aid where they changed the lyrics? Not for me. I’m a fan of an alternative song. Something a bit different.  Away from the norm. Beautiful, funny, and maybe, just maybe, a little dark. 

Here’s my top 5 alternative songs for festive writing. Happy holidays. See you next year. 

Here Again – Summer Camp 


I love Summer Camp (spoilers: there’s more to come). Wistful. Clever. The perfect song for introverts who find the whole Christmas thing hard going. Listen to it and breathe in the calm. Then go back and see how many Christmas song references you find…

Home for the Holidays – Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

In 2011, Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler released This is Christmas, a festive extravaganza of covers and originals. Home for the Holidays is, for me, the best song on the album (I think it was released as a single). Emmy and Tim were a couple at the time. It gives added poignancy to a song about walking around familiar streets, “calling your parents’ house to see if you’re in town”, and meeting in old haunts like nothing’s changed.

Christmas Was Better in the 80s – The Futureheads 

Because it just was. 

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – She & Him 

Zooey Deschanel’s voice is butter melting gently over a big cheesy scone. There’s something wonderfully ‘off’ about this version of the Christmas classic. Zooey tells us our troubles will be miles away, but I can’t quite work out whether she means it. Haunting. 

Last Christmas – Summer Camp

Yep, them again. I really love Summer Camp. And this version of Last Christmas is perfect. Slightly rushed. The blurriness of the post-Christmas party morning.  Tambourines.  The ‘I’ll give it to someone special’ part is beautifully sad. 

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