It just isn't Christmas until … you know the feeling. Dipping temperatures and swirling snow can play a part. But the music is what really pulls us into the blanket of fond memories, ushering in the season in a way a forecast simply can't match. While Mariah's "All I Want for Christmas is You" might be the ubiquitous soundtrack to your holiday shopping, playlists are always evolving. So this year, BLAC created our own, including tunes essential to the black experience. Your yuletide won't be complete without hearing them.
When you hear Melvin's deep voice intone, "'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse" – with that soulful entry, you just know you're going to smile.
Sorry, Chris Brown. While you may have a nice rendition of this holiday classic, Donny Hathaway's version can't be matched in emotion or execution. If there's one song that evokes a black family Christmas, it's this track.
It don't get funkier than James Brown. Not only is he funky (of course he is), but he's got a message – Santa: Go to the ones who need it the most. If that doesn't say Christmas spirit, nothing does.
There's something about when a '90s song becomes something of an R&B classic. In a post-1993 world, it just wouldn't be Christmas without hearing this one.
The same group that told you "for the love of money/people will steal from their mother" takes a different stance on family and gives listeners a heart-felt journey into love and sharing the holidays with that special someone.
How do you combine sexy, classy and playful in one purrfect package? "Santa Baby" is the answer to this – and more. Better than a mere classic, Kitt's original 1953 version is definitive.
The Pied Piper of R&B has a way with words and beats. This is one of the younger songs on the playlist (released in 2013), but it has the bravura of a classic in the making. Time will tell. If you gotta get up from the table and do something to work off all that food, after all, you should at least try to hustle.
Yeah, it's goofy (especially the music video), but that's the whole point. Having fun. Christmas time. Collard greens, macaroni and cheese. You might even see your uncle breakdance to this.
A LITTLE OFF THE BEATEN PATH…
Some tracks you've got to dig for. Here are our top three deeper cuts.
It's the sort of thing that shouldn't work. Imagine a jazzy rendition of "Silent Night" with a soprano delivering the words. Whoever said jazz and opera couldn't mix either forgot about Porgy and Bess or hadn't heard this performance.
'Another Lonely Christmas' – Prince
The Purple One's catalogue has always been an eclectic mix of the unexpected. As the B-side (remember those?) to his Purple Rain smash "I Would Die 4 U," "Another Lonely Christmas" never reached the charts. But the world's a much better place for having a Christmas anthem by Prince.
We couldn't resist one encore. This update to Brown's classic is different enough with its West Coast flavor – and you just can't help but to salute the late, great Nate Dogg on vocals. No hip-hop hook, even a Christmas one, is complete without him.