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Halo Music & Sound Presents: ‘Non Holiday Holiday Tunes’


Already tired of hearing the same few merry melodies this holiday season? Halo’s music supervisor Molly Salas is on hand to help…

Halo Music & Sound Presents: ‘Non Holiday Holiday Tunes’

It is, once again, the most wonderful time of the year. And as our digital calendars refreshed for one final month in 2021, a familiar chorus broke out amongst radio stations and streaming platforms worldwide. Yet, it’s one featuring the kind of festive anthems which, for all the merriest wishes in the world, many of us find somewhat too familiar by the time the holiday’s crescendo comes around. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ‘expected’ festive funes. But every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, as absence surely makes the heart grow fonder, so too does over-exposure make the heart grow… less fond. And to channel Mariah herself, perhaps all you want for Christmas is something a little different. 

It’s in that spirit that Halo Music & Sound have compiled a definitive ‘Non Holiday Holiday Tunes’ playlist. In truth, it’s a proposition which Halo has some recent experience of navigating - thanks to their recent work with the luxury automotive brand Lincoln in which, through a kind of festive magic, the holiday season snows down upon a sun-kissed scene as snowflakes settle on palm trees. 

So, what makes the holiday season sound like the holiday season? To find out, and enjoy kicking back with some not-explicitly-festive-but-still-somehow-festive tunes, LBB spoke to Halo’s music supervisor Molly Salas. 

LBB> Happy holidays, Molly! When you take away the tinsel and the tradition, what does this time of year mean - and sound like - to you? 

Molly> Happy holidays! I grew up in southern California, and so a lot of the stuff that we might recognise commercially as ‘Christmas’ - snow, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, that kind of thing - was alien to me for much of my life. But there’s still a sense of comfort to it all which feels distinctively ‘end of year’, and I think that feeling is where to start from, musically speaking. 

LBB> One of the defining features which makes the festive period so special for many is the sense of days blurring into one another, and losing a structured sense of time. Do you agree with that, and do you think that any song which conveys that feeling could be considered a ‘holiday song’?

Molly> I think you're right, that the last two weeks of December into the first ‘workday’ back in January has a lovely - and precious - sense of ‘anything goes’, of renewal, a bit of "I'll worry about that next year". 

But the key difference that makes the ‘what day is it’ feeling so special is the rituals that folks get to return to every year. They're often so specific to a family or an individual, and looking forward to those traditions - or the journey of being able to craft new ones - differentiates that rosy lack of schedule from pandemic aimlessness. A holiday song has gotta have some hope.

LBB> I can’t help but note this playlist begins with ‘A Summer Song’. That’s got to be intentional, right?

Molly> You caught me. A generous reading of my intention could be that it's a nod to the entire southern hemisphere for whom December means summer, and how they are so often forgotten in the holiday song discourse preferring jingle bells and sleigh rides. 

This song in particular talks about the end of things, life being cyclical, and returning to summer as a rosier time. But I think that the same anticipation can refer to the holiday season, too, and the feeling of returning to something. A fair few of the songs in the playlist have this juxtaposition of sunshine, summer, and California. I live in New York and live out my best Winter Wonderland/Marshmallow World/Let It Snow visions of the holiday season every year, but at the end of the day, growing up those things were always foreign and aspirational. The surfing Santas of my childhood are inevitably front and center! 

LBB> On ‘Christmas With You Is The Best’ - this may be a ‘glass half empty’ reading, but to what extent is this the soundtrack of the holiday season slowly losing its magic as we grow older?

Molly> Full disclosure: I love - LOVE - your more traditional holiday tunes. Do I trim my tree every year to Vince Guaraldi Trio? Am I going to see a holiday jazz concert at Lincoln Center this weekend? Yep. But not everyone feels the same unbridled joy at holiday music, especially as it seems to start earlier every year. 

I'm a big December 1st-and-no-sooner proponent of enjoying holiday stuff, to ensure it doesn't lose its annual sheen. So for me, it's not quite as half-empty as you're suggesting because the magic is there. It was important to me, though, to feature a couple of overtly holiday lyrically but musically agnostic tracks. "Christmas With You Is The Best" is from "The O.C.'s Mix 3: Have A Very Merry Chrismukkah" and it demonstrates this so well: the song fits perfectly into the musical ethos and identity of the rest of the show, while not being shy that it is a Christmas song. Lyrically it has just the right amount of ennui of being a teenager in Southern California (hi!), but musically doesn't meet the joy and merriment of Seth Cohen's adoration for Chrismukkah as some other tunes on the Chrismukkah soundtrack. It's the Ryan Atwood of holiday songs. 

My reading as an adult, though, is that there's an opportunity to make the traditions your own, build something new, tweak as you go, skip what doesn't work, and include what makes it worthwhile. You could do that by building something unique with someone, or having a favorite bar you retreat to every holiday season. Doing the holidays "your way" doesn't make it any less special.

LBB> Finally, this is a playlist that captures the festive spirit without (often) referring directly to this time of year. With that in mind, could listening to this playlist outside of the holiday season be the long-sought-after key to recapturing the fabled festive spirit all year-round?!

Molly> I hope so - I think we all need it! The holidays and the end of the year have a natural recap nature to them, taking stock of what you accomplished or everything that happened in a year. 

I made this playlist with that in mind: what, who, where, makes you feel the sense of belonging and care that is supposed to come with the holidays? For me, the holidays do evoke that, but it's not the same for everybody. 

Checking in with yourself about what makes you feel cared for and like you belong year-round? Sign me up for that. 

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Halo Music & Sound, Thu, 16 Dec 2021 18:02:13 GMT