A toast to 2021: your December Press-Playlist


Credit: Jessica LaFrance, Kayla Bugeya

Jaeden Pinder, Arts Editor

Happy Holidays from The Pace Press, and congratulations on completing your first in-person semester back since the initial pandemic! Being in college and being quite jaded from most of the world around us, we’re quick to shoo away praise, but this is the time to be proud of our perseverance through this generation-defining point in our lives.

Plenty of students here at the University live across the country, many in places that don’t resemble the sparkly and glistening dreams of a holiday village inside a snow globe. Wherever you are this holiday season, escape to your own winter wonderland with this special Press-Playlist for the semester break. 

With songs to put on your party queue for New Year’s Eve festivities, soft acoustic ballads for Christmas morning snowfall and generally celebratory songs, this playlist is a treat for all during this highly necessary respite, hitting on songs for the rowdy and exuberant and the chilled and tranquil. 

Cozy up by the fireplace with a mug of your favorite wintry beverage and check out The Pace Press’ must-have drinks this winter. We can’t wait to see everyone in 2022, so for the time being, here is your December Press-Playlist!

Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today/Christmas Treat

To hear someone as apathetic as Julian Casablancas, who is basically anti-everything, howling like a child begging for the 25th to come around is downright hilarious. Because the frontman of The Strokes modeled his entire musical persona, especially his voice, around Lou Reed, what makes this cover so enjoyable is his lackadaisical delivery against the hysterical lyrics. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” premiered on “Saturday Night Live” in 2000 with repertory players Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan and Jimmy Fallon on the main stage bobbing along to the amateur guitar plucking and singing of Horatio Sanz. Casablancas’s cover takes the original absurdity of the sketch to new and exciting heights with the sounds of new wave synthesizers and jingle bells side by side, all with an explosive guitar solo at the end. 

Taylor Swift – New Year’s Day

In Swift’s most important song of her, at first polarizing but slowly gaining recognition, album “reputation,” the closing track takes a laid-back approach to a highly anthemic work filled with vengeful EDM and trap influence. Swift has said it before when speaking on this song, no one ever really thinks about the first day of the year: “I think there’s something even more romantic about who’s gonna deal with you on New Year’s Day…I think that states more of a permanence.” It’s an intimate thought when you ponder it. Who will be the first person you see and speak to the following morning, and who will you be with the following year? Whether you’re with a new love or old friends on the first day of 2022, think back on these lyrics: “Hold on to the memories, they will hold onto you.”

Bryson Tiller – winter wonderland (featuring Halo)

A classic song usually associated with Tony Bennett or Michael Bublé, this new cover has its own charm while still remaining a traditionally festive track, Tiller’s voice gliding across the jazzy instrumental like a sleigh in the sky over a quiet town. What’s even more endearing about “winter wonderland” is that the little voice you hear is Tiller’s daughter, Harley “Halo.” His love for her is apparent with Bryson even adding encouraging adlibs and an interlude while she sings (“Alright kiddo we got this last part comin’ up right here…you ready?”) with her dad. Clearly, the talent runs in the family, and Tiller’s cover of this traditional standard is the perfect song to play pre-Christmas dinner.

Tame Impala – One More Year

You don’t have to dig too deep into the indie music culture of Gen Z before you find projects like MGMT, Mild High Club and Kevin Parker’s musical child, Tame Impala. Tame Impala coming on at a house party always invites a chorus of oohs and aahs, regardless of their popularity. It isn’t empty praise though: Kevin Parker has a knack for crafting the grooviest beats and as simple as it sounds, he knows how to make good music. Unlike the earlier entry of Taylor Swift’s own New Year’s closer, “One More Year,” is the introduction to “The Slow Rush,” and has Parker’s voice guiding the song as it echoes and reverberates against the rhythm. It plays out like a montage of memories flashing across your vision, and it’s a great pick for a NYE countdown song with a mesmerizing beat drop at the four-minute mark.

Joni Mitchell – River

Probably the saddest song from one of the best breakup albums, “River” interpolates the melody of the carol “Jingle Bells,” in a way that sonically displays heartbreak. The last note from the original piano melody is omitted and leads right back into itself, seemingly symbolic of a missing piece to a broken heart, lost during a relationship’s demise and you can feel the achiness and grief in Mitchell as she sings. Because most of her career was settled in the high altitude terrain of Laurel Canyon, “River” feels distinctly more depressing, yearning for a traditional winter holiday. Longing for vast streets and pure white snow, Mitchell knows where to hit it where it hurts.

LCD Soundsystem – Christmas Will Break Your Heart

“Christmas Will Break Your Heart”’ was the first single released in five years after LCD Soundsystem broke up in 2011 and jump-started their return to the rock scene that had rapidly changed during their hiatus. Subdued for the electronic rock group, it contains some dark yet affecting lyricism concerned with doubt, aging and loneliness. The single tackles the topic that no one likes to face around this time: even though it’s meant to be filled with cheer, sometimes Christmas can be depressing. “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” is the kind of song you’ll want to be wailing with your friends during the last call at a dingy dive bar. Catch them at Brooklyn Steel until Dec. 21, where they are currently holding a month-long residency.

Twin Shadow – Saturdays (feat. HAIM)

Take notes everyone: if you want to make an automatic hit, the sounds of the ‘80s are the way to go. Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on, yes, Saturday this year, so of course, we were going to throw a few cheeky songs in here, and “Saturdays” by Twin Shadow (George Lewis Jr.) is our punny entry for this playlist. The beat of the song fits right into the tempo’s pocket, the bass is sharp and the lyrics are just dramatic enough that there’s some urgency in what Lewis is singing. Even though they only appear at the track’s climax, HAIM adds some flair on the bridge and final chorus of the song. Stream the Brooklyn native’s track from his album “Caer” this New Year’s Eve for some pre-party pump-ups.

Tyler, the Creator – I Am the Grinch (feat. Fletcher Jones)

Tyler, the Creator’s collaboration with Illumination to create this new hip-hop song for 2018’s “The Grinch” is alarmingly on point, an aha moment, even with his earlier work being not so kid-friendly. He even pokes fun at this, almost throwing out an expletive on the refrain even a partial reference to his album “Scum Fuck Flower Boy.” Still, it only makes sense that Tyler would embody the pessimistic and misunderstood Christmas thief and he employs all of his indicative tags; check out the rapper’s accompanying EP for the movie for even more of this sound. Because hip-hop isn’t usually associated with Christmas music, minus Run–D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis,” the hope is that with Tyler’s growing influence that there will be more holiday-themed rap music in the future.

Donna Summer – Last Dance

If there’s one thing music nerds and historians can agree on, it’s that Donna Summer can do no wrong. Written by Paul Jabara for the disco movie “Thank God It’s Friday,” Summer got together with frequent producer Giorgio Moroder, a musical match made in heaven, for this song that eventually went on to win an Oscar in 1979. “Last Dance” physically launches you into movement and renders you helpless to the beat, altogether creating pure auditory joy drenched in ecstasy. The Queen of Disco lives on through her euphoric work and this is the ideal song to ring in the new year and to create your own metaphorical end-credits scene to 2021.