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Playlist: 97 Minutes of Christmas, Vol. 5

Andrew Martone | December 16, 2021

This Christmas season, the staff of THE 97 will be sharing their favorite holiday songs via our new 97 Minutes of Christmas Playlist series. Each playlist contains 1 hour and 37~ minutes of Christmas jams personally curated by the staff writer.

VOLUME 5, CURATED BY ANDREW

How do you boil Christmas down to just 97 minutes? Maybe I’m not the best person to ask. I make the annual Christmas day playlist since my family hosts Christmas. That playlist clocks in around 8 hours and I struggle to get everything into that playlist. That aside, there are a few Christmas cuts that are crucial to my annual Christmas listening. My playlist mixes nostalgia-fueled cuts together with the songs I’ve found on my own over the years that resonate with me. It’s largely a mix of gospel and pop with a few touches of jazz and R&B.

Things open with the underrated pop perfection that is Kylie Minogue’s “Christmas Isn’t Christmas ‘Til You Get Here” (if you’ve never heard her Christmas album, don’t hesitate on working it into your rotation). From there the playlist cruises through the necessary Mariah, Aretha, and Nat King Cole which marries my own finds (the former) with classics I’ve been listening to since before I can remember (the latter). Mary J. Blige jumps in to do her best Ella Fitzgerald on “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.” Otis Redding follows with his holiest moans for a “White Christmas.” Vanessa Williams croons over a spirited contemporary jazz rendition of “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” which leads the way for Celine Dion to deliver her brilliant original, “The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone).”

The fare is largely similar from there on out, but a few other cuts are worth noting. Aretha Franklin’s take on “Silent Night” originally appeared on her 2008 Christmas LP, but a decade later marked her first posthumous release just two months after her death as stripped back with just Aretha’s vocal and piano accompaniment. It’s haunting. My favorite contemporary song, “Where Are You Christmas” by Faith Hill also surges through, as does Donna Summer’s understated “White Christmas,” one of the only cuts to appear on the playlist twice. Things close with Aretha delivering the most hysterical take on “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” that you’ve ever heard. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good soundtrack!

LISTEN TO ANDREW’S 97 MINUTES OF CHRISTMAS

Also available on: Apple MusicTidal

Written by Andrew Martone