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(Credit: David Byrne Facebook)


Listen to David Byrne's alternative Christmas playlist


When David Byrne decided to curate a three-hour alternative Christmas playlist, he gave us more than a selection of eclectic and wayward musical gems; he offered us an antidote. As we enter December, so begins the relentless churn of ‘Christmas Classics’, a strange sort of euphemism for songs that, no matter how hard we try, refuse to disappear. Well, fear not, because Byrne is here to take us away from the pearly white jaws of Mariah Carey and George Micheal and inject some much-needed musical exploration into the festive season.

Released through his official website in 2018, the 41-track musical odyssey formed part of Bryne’s monthly playlist series, which saw the one-time Talking Heads frontman open up our ears to new and unfamiliar sounds. It really is an incredibly diverse selection, weaving the joyful madness of Hobo Johnson with the poetry of Algeria’s folk poet Laureate, Rachid Taha. Describing the musician’s impact on the landscape of Algerian music, Bryne wrote: “He was ubiquitous for a while there—flavours and songs from the Maghreb and the immigrant experience with a rock and roll attitude”.

In the mix, Bryne takes us to all four quarters of the globe. There’s a lovely slice of Turkish psych from Erkin Koray, who Bryne recalls he first listened to after being introduced to another of Turkey’s greatest songwriter’s, Barış Manço, by some friends in Istanbul. “When I was there years ago,” he writes, “Turkey had a serious psychedelic period”. Then there are the Afro-Latin sounds of Juan Luis Guerra, whose track ‘Loma de Cayenas’ brings some of the warmth of the Dominican Republic to the cold winter months. The mix also contains a number of recognisable names, including The Beatles, Jorja Smith (who, in 2018, was already one of the brightest lights of the explosion of artists emerging from the South London nu-jazz scene), and Mitski.

Bryne’s wonderful selection of tracks may not include much talk about snow, Christmas cheer, or bioluminescent reindeer, but it does provide welcome relief from the onslaught of Christmas classics that seem to fill every shopping centre, supermarket, and pub at this time of year. I’m by no means dismissing the likes of Wham and Mariah Carey, a bit of cheese does everyone good, but if you’re on the hunt for something new, David Bryne’s playlist is the place to start.

David Byrne’s alternative Christmas playlist:

  1. ‘Not Today’ – Alessia Cara
  2. ‘I’m a Suspect’ – Lonnie Holley
  3. ‘There Was Always Water’ – Lonnie Holley
  4. ‘Sex in the City’ – Hobo Johnson
  5. ‘Romeo & Juliet’ – Hobo Johnson
  6. ‘Namesake’ – Tunde Olaniran
  7. ‘Young Lover (piano version’ – St. Vincent
  8. ‘Ngarrpiya (Octopus)’ – Gurrumul
  9. ‘Supernova’ – My Brightest Diamond
  10. ‘White Noise’ – My Brightest Diamond
  11. ‘Dolphin’ – Panda Bear
  12. ‘Washing Machine Heart’ – Mitski
  13. ‘Welcome To Earth (Pollywog)’ – Sturgill Simpson
  14. ‘Make Me Lovely’ – Laura Mvula
  15. ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ – Agnes Obel
  16. ‘Settle Down’ – Kimbra
  17. ‘Twinkle’ – Sorry
  18. ‘The One’ – Jorja Smith
  19. ‘Howlin’ to the Moon’ – Topaz Jones
  20. ‘Wanderer’ – Cat Power
  21. ‘Woman’ – Cat Power
  22. ‘Hay Yam Yam’ – Erkin Koray
  23. ‘Quebra Cabeça’ – Bixiga 70
  24. ‘Grito de Paz’ – Bixiga 70
  25. ‘Ni de Mano Ni de Beso’ – Gran Sur
  26. ‘Tu Dios’ – Gran Sur
  27. ‘Loma de Cayenas’ – Vicente García & Juan Luis Guerra 4.40
  28. ‘Qué Mal Que Estoy’ – iLe
  29. ‘Soledad y el Mar’ – Natalia Lafourcade ft. Los Macorinos
  30. ‘Mi Tierra Veracruzana’ – Natalia Lafourcade ft. Los Macorinos
  31. ‘Party For One’ – Carly Rae Jepsen
  32. ‘Ya Rayah’ – Rachid Taha
  33. ‘Barra Barra’ – Rachid Taha
  34. ‘Revolution (Esher Demo)’ – The Beatles
  35. ‘Malamente (Cap.1: Augurio)’ – Rosalía
  36. ‘Pienso En Tu Mirá (Cap.3: Celos)’ – Rosalía
  37. ‘Sodade’ – Bonga
  38. ‘Mona Ki Ngi Xica’ – Bonga
  39. ‘Â çimma’ – Fabrizio De André
  40. ‘Madre Terra’ – Carmen Consoli
  41. ‘Mandaci Una Cartolina’ – Carmen Consoli

Listen to the playlist, below.