Everyone knows and loves holiday classics like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” or Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” but there are so many other standout holiday songs that don’t get quite as much attention, including several by queer artists. Take a look at our picks for seven of the best holiday songs by queer artists that will take you on the full range of emotions, from holiday jolliness to holiday depression.
Dozens of artists have covered Wham!’s iconic “Last Christmas,” but few do as well as Remi Wolf at putting their own spin on the classic. She transforms the song into a beachy surf-rock jam complete with breezy guitar riffs and stacked harmonies, making the song we’ve all heard a million times feel fresh and familiar at the same time.
The holidays are probably the worst time for relationships to grow cold, and Brandi Carlile takes us to the heart of that struggle in “The Heartache Can Wait.” The simple ballad, with not much else beyond piano, cello, some bells, and Carlile’s voice, transports us into the world of a couple just trying to make it through the holidays with their love intact.
On a happier note, Carol Ades tells the story of a girl spending the holidays with her new lover for the first time in “First Christmas.” The country-tinged song portrays everything that comes along with that situation – the trepidation, the trying to fit in to another family’s holiday traditions, and ultimately, the joy at getting to spend Christmas with the one you love.
With her cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” Phoebe Bridgers reminds us that the holiday season isn’t the most wonderful time of year for everyone. “I don’t mean to hate December; it’s meant to be the happy time of year,” she sings in her signature soft, poignant voice, backed by simple yet evocative piano chords. “But my little girl don’t understand why we can’t afford no Christmas here.” Still, despite the song’s melancholy, there is an undercurrent of hope that if they can just make it through December, everything will turn out OK.
Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” brings the holiday spirit with this ‘70s rock banger. The energetic song is perfect for dancing along to or for blasting in the car while doing your holiday shopping.
You can keep the party going with Tegan and Sara’s pop anthem “Make You Mine This Season,” written for Hulu’s 2020 queer holiday rom-com Happiest Season. The song captures the excitement of pursuing a romance during the holiday season.
Allison Russell delivers a stellar rendition of the Christmas classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” her rich, warm vocals backed by shimmery electric guitar and plaintive string parts. The song is sure to put you in a reflective, nostalgic mood.
We hope that you find these songs to be perfect additions to your holiday playlists, and we wish you and your loved ones joy and peace this holiday season!