Classics vs. Covers: Modern artists throw new twist on old Christmas favorites

It’s that time of year again. Stores are decorated with festive lights and holiday decorations line the streets of busy shopping malls; five- and six-foot Christmas trees sparkle and shine through the windows of brightly lit houses; chestnuts roast on open fires; Jack Frost nips at your nose and…Justin Bieber sings Christmas carols on the radio?

Today, it’s not uncommon to hear modern artists put their own twist to an old Christmas favorite or create their own original Christmas song. Just to name a few, classic Christmas songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” introduced by Judy Garland in 1944; “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)”, recorded in early 1964 by The Nat King Cole Trio; and “Winter Wonderland,” written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, have been covered by modern artists like Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews Band, and Coldplay. In addition, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, “Shake up Christmas” by Train and “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber are only a few examples of the many original songs created by artists specifically for the holiday season. But as change often is, these new takes on an old tradition have been received with mixed results.

“I think the new songs are good,” senior David Ramirez said, “They make the old Christmas songs livelier.”

Freshman Gina Nguyen agrees.

“I like modern bands’ versions better [than the original songs] because they put their own spin to it,” Nguyen said. “I think that’s really creative.”

Ramirez and Nguyen appreciate the way that covers of traditional Christmas songs and original holiday songs by modern artists cater to younger generations while still maintaining their original purpose.

“In the words and the messages that they give they both do capture the meaning of Christmas,” Ramirez said. “But the new ones kind of create a livelier, happier feeling of what Christmas is about.”

To Nguyen, modern bands that throw a spin on old holiday songs is a refreshing change.

“I prefer the covers because the original Christmas songs are kind of overplayed,” Nguyen said. “It’s nice to mix it up a little.”

Not everyone agrees. While some celebrate these new takes on an old tradition, others aren’t so sure that they like what they’re hearing.

“These new songs are like what you would play in a club or something,” senior Uyen Tran said, “it doesn’t make sense.”

For people like Tran, these new holiday tunes fail to live up to the standards that their predecessors have set.

“The original Christmas songs are usually really slow and they’re probably what people today think old people listened to in like the 1950’s,” Tran said. “But now people are energetic; they want dubstep, they want pop, and that totally ruins the entire song.”

Whether they want to celebrate the season with the energetic beats and upbeat voices of modern artists like Mariah Carey or prefer to cuddle up with a good book in front of a warm fire to Nat King Cole, one thing is certain. Whatever music people choose to enjoy during the holiday season will bring back warm old memories or will create new ones.

“[Holiday music] just captures the spirit of Christmas,” Tran said. “Whenever you listen to it, you just remember Christmas.”