Queue It Up: March 4, 2019

Yes, March 1st was a big release day this year. We have new full-lengths from Hozier, Solange and Weezer for our listening pleasure. However, a few of our other favorite artists have released new singles worth jamming, too.

“Sucker” by The Jonas Brothers

THEY’RE BACK. I can’t believe this is happening, but in 2019 The Jonas Brothers returned to social media to tease new music. The first new music in six years from Kevin, Joe and Nick was released at midnight, and you can bet your firstborn that I stayed up for it. Oops, your firstborn is gone now. It’s a great track and the video is even better. Filmed in the castle that also housed Oscar winner, “The Favourite”, the video showcases the guys’ respective significant others – Danielle, Sophie and Priyanka. It’s everything I ever dreamed of and they’d better go on tour or I might cry.

“Superstar” by Marina

“Handmade Heaven”, the first single from Marina’s new album, Love + Fear, has been out for almost a month now. Both singles, as well as “Baby” from late autumn 2018, are from the “Love” part of the album, and I’m curious as to whether she’ll release a single from the “Fear” portion. This single is totally different from “Handmade Heaven” and is more reminiscent of the Marina we’ve been in love with since 2010. “Superstar” is a great track and I’ve been playing it all weekend.

“Now That I Found You” / “No Drug Like Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen

The addition of Carly Rae Jepsen here is admittedly for Kiel [Thank you! – Kiel]. I’m not personally a huge fan of Jepsen’s work, but I’ll say that the two songs she released this week are great. It’s very Carly Rae; she seems to have found a niche that she’s sticking with. We’ve got three singles, but no release date for her fourth album. Both tracks are pretty thematically similar, but I do prefer the second of the two, “No Drug Like Me”. She used some heavier 80s synth than she usually does, and the distinction is nice.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Carly Rae Jepsen Shares the Stage with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

As Carly Rae Jepsen’s devoted following awaits a proper follow-up to 2015’s critically acclaimed Emotion, the pop songstress has done little to slow down. Last year’s Emotion: Side B was a killer collection of B-sides that felt like a completely new album. Throw in a role in Fox’s Grease Live, the release of 2017 song of the summer contender “Cut to the Feeling”, and an upcoming opener slot on Katy Perry’s Witness tour, and Jepsen has kept a full schedule.

In the midst of it all, Jepsen found time to perform with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on November 21. While the initial announcement of the performance garnered varied reactions, the night itself lived up to every possible expectation.

While covering Jepsen’s Gimmie Love Tour in 2016, I remarked on the joyfulness of Carly’s audience and her unique ability to liven a room. A year later, even the confines of an orchestral performance inside the gorgeous Hilbert Circle Theater in Indianapolis couldn’t hold onlookers in their seats.

Such a performance requires a bit more than mere stage presence, to be sure. Without the familiar comfort of her backing band and tracks, no backup singers, and accompanied by one of the most renowned symphonies in the world, Jepsen held her own. From the opening moments of “Run Away with Me”, preceded by a beautiful introductory arrangement, Jepsen’s voice filled the auditorium.

Throughout the evening, Carly showcased her vocal abilities, hitting big notes with ease on tracks like “Making the Most of the night” and “When I Needed You”. Perhaps even more impressive than her pitch-perfect delivery was her knack for morphing her unique brand of pop to fit new arrangements. It’s hard to imagine a song like “Cut to the Feeling” meshing with strings and woodwind instruments until you hear it for yourself in such a setting. Give credit to the Indianapolis Symphony for capturing the heart of these songs in new and exciting ways.

Just as sections of the crowd near the stage would begin to stand and move with the music, strategically placed intermissions allowed for Jepsen to exit as the symphony played classical pieces. Still, as the night progressed, performances of “Boy Problems” and “Call Me Maybe” ended any reverence for the theater setting. By the time Jepsen returned for an encore of “I Really Like You”, the auditorium aisles had transitioned to narrow dancefloors.

The point here is that the joy of a Carly Rae Jepsen performance is not determined by setting or arrangement. Standing in front of an orchestra, dressed in gown and heels, Jepsen not only held her own as a vocal performer, but shared the joy of the moment with her audience in a way that so few artists can. That’s a talent that doesn’t fade quickly, and it’s why so many of us are so excited for what comes next.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Podcast: Predicting the Song of the Summer

Today marks the first day of summer, and you know what that means – time to sing along to the Song of the Summer! But wait, where did that term come from? And what does it even mean? And does any of this even matter?

Richard Clark joins Kiel Hauck to discuss the history of the “Song of the Summer” and reflect on some of their favorite summertime tracks. They also break down the elements that make a summer song successful and even offer up some guesses for 2017’s song of the summer. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite song of the summer memory? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

New Carly Rae Jepsen Song: “Cut to the Feeling”

As we eagerly await a new album from Carly Rae Jepsen, a new song titled “Cut to the Feeling” has surfaced online. The track is featured in the animated film Ballerina and is pure pop bliss. Take a listen below:

Jepsen has kept herself busy since the release of Emotion in 2015, appearing in Grease: Live, releasing a b-sides album last year, and even appearing in a Target commercial with Lil Yachty. Here’s hoping more new music is on the horizon soon.

What are your thoughts on “Cut to the Feeling”? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2017: #10 Carly Rae Jepsen Rides Her Own Wave

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“New album on the way…but here’s something to hold yah over till then.”

A year after releasing one of the most satisfying pop records of the decade, Carly Rae Jepsen followed up her quiet 2015 acclaim with Emotion Side B – a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut on her last record but still somehow sound better than almost anything currently playing on pop radio.

Ever since her one-hit-wonder fame of 2012, Jepsen has been unobtrusively rebranding herself as something of an underground pop icon. Her fervent core fan base reached cloud nine with the release of Emotion, transforming the perception of Jepsen and making clear that the best may be yet to come. After scrapping a folk-inspired follow-up to Kiss in favor of an 80s-infused explosion, it would seem that nothing is outside the realm of possibility.

To be fair, Jepsen fans have been spoiled these past two years – two stellar releases, a massive world tour, appearances on everything from Grease: Live to SNL with the theme song to last year’s Full House reboot thrown in for good measure. Perhaps that’s what makes the possibility of another record so enticing – it’s clearly Carly Rae’s time to shine. Or maybe we’re just greedy. Either way, here’s hoping for another dose of pop medicine in 2017.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Review: Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion: Side B

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Carly Rae Jepsen proved to be one of the most unexpectedly fascinating figures in pop music last year. Emotion, her follow up to 2012 smash breakthrough Kiss, proved to be one of the year’s most lauded releases, even if its commercial performance lagged. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long to find out if Jepsen’s artistic resurgence was a fluke.

Just over a year after the release of Emotion, Carly Rae has blessed us with Emotion: Side B – a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut, but are just as worthy of praise.

You can buy Emotion: Side B on iTunes.

You can buy Emotion: Side B on iTunes.

If you come to our site with any regularity, you know that I’ve written ad nauseum about Jepsen’s unassuming brilliance and won’t be surprised that I find this latest release one of the most satisfying moments of 2016. Emotion: Side B is littered with pop gold and is a testament to Jepsen’s aptitude for writing killer songs. How is it possible that eight songs that didn’t make the cut for her last album are still better than 90 percent of what’s playing on pop radio?

“First Time” opens the release in Madonna-esque fashion, fully bathed the 80s influence that peppered Emotion. Over popping synthesizers, Carly Rae delivers the most Carly Rae chorus imaginable: “When my heart breaks, it always feels like the first time / If you stay here, we could kiss away the goodbye”. Mere moments into the first track, Emotion: Side B throws caution to the wind, dropping any pretense of self-seriousness.

Carefree indulgence continues on “Higher”, a song so damn good it’s hard to imagine why it was cut from Emotion. “You take me higher than the rest / Everybody else is second best / You pulled a gem out of the mess / I was so cynical before, I must confess”, Jespen belts during the song’s grand chorus. It’s another pulsing homage to 80s pop that sounds as though it wouldn’t have felt out of place on the soundtrack of Drive.

“Fever” is a moody song that works as the answer to “All That”, the Hot A/C track that felt slightly out of place on Emotion. “Body Language” is the dance-y sibling of “Let’s Get Lost” and finds its footing during a sizzling chorus: “Body language will do the trick / If you stay with me tonight, then we’ll talk it over”. Each track on Side B could easily fit within Emotion without causing much of a fuss, with the sole exception being the fairly uninspired “Store”.

Emotion: Side B is a delightful treat for Jepsen’s fans, who have become enthusiastic grassroots promoters of an underdog artist. It’s also validation for those of us who sang the praises of Emotion without irony and argued for the value of pop music as a self-aware salve. Jepsen holds the unique ability of bridging the gap between indie pretentiousness and mainstream inclusiveness – happily typecast, but delightfully surprising.

In short, Emotion: Side B is the irony-free pop music we needed in 2016. It’s also a pretty nice holdover as we eagerly await whatever comes next.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Carly Rae Jepsen’s Gimmie Love Tour Shines Bright

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The Madison Theater is a diamond in the rough – a unique, historic venue in Covington, Kentucky, resting just south of the Ohio River in the long shadow of downtown Cincinnati. While not the most exclusive or celebrated concert hall in the area, it serves as an unsuspecting intimate setting with its own quirky style and layout.

On this night, these distinctive characteristics make it the perfect location for one of pop music’s most underrated and overlooked artists: Carly Rae Jepsen.

When I reviewed Emotion, the latest release from Jepsen, last August, I was still grappling with how much I enjoyed the record. Stepping out from underneath the piercing glow of “Call Me Maybe” was challenging for many music fans, but the light on the other side has proved to be even more enjoyable and lasting than another quick fix. Emotion has shattered expectations, becoming one of the most lauded pop albums in recent years.

In the time since its release, Emotion has appeared to gain steam due to its inclusion on countless end-of-the-year lists, Jepsen’s various TV and radio appearances, and word of mouth promotion from fans convinced of the record’s merit. Interestingly enough, Jepsen’s current Gimmie Love Tour serves not as a reintroduction to the artist we met four summers ago, but as a validation of her status as one of the most likable and unsung pop singers on the planet.

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Cardiknox

Setting the table on this tour is Cardiknox, a surprisingly powerful synthpop act that recently released their debut album, Portrait, and appear to be taking full advantage of this opportunity. Vocalist Lonnie Angle has the stage presence of a veteran singer and commands the crowd’s attention. By the second song of the band’s set, the crowd is bouncing and singing along to the infectious chorus of “On My Way”.

This lively set proves to be the perfect primer for Carly Rae’s own brand of synth-driven power pop. Taking the stage to the slick saxophone intro to “Run Away with Me”, Jepsen dives right into her best and most astonishingly overlooked track. It’s clear from the get go that the vast majority of the crowd in Covington has little longing for “Call Me Maybe” – the fans belt out every note of the chorus, nearly drowning out Jepsen’s voice.

It’s exceedingly rare that an entire night lives up to those electric opening moments when the main act takes the stage, but this performance is a communal one from start to finish. During the course of her 19-song set, Carly plays every song from Emotion (bonus tracks included), along with standouts from 2012’s Kiss. Never once does the buzz die down or the crowd become disinterested. Instead, they sing and dance along in unison.

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Carly Rae Jepsen

Looking around the venue, it’s a diverse gathering. With the event falling on St. Patrick’s Day, many don green as they hold a drink and dance to the music. Smiles abound and the vast majority of the crowd seems to know the lyrics to almost every song. In fact, the night’s most rousing moments come with the performance of random tracks from Emotion like “Gimmie Love” and “I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance”, which elicit just as much energy from the crowd as more well known hits like “Good Time”. Perhaps the infectious nature of Emotion is finally spreading.

Jepsen’s stage presence matches her artistic persona – she appears full of joy and giddy excitement, but seems uninterested relishing the spotlight. Her performance feels akin to a friend singing along with you to your favorite song during a car ride, an act that seems natural and deeply familiar. It’s hard not to smile and nearly impossible to disconnect from the delight of those around you.

Carly shares relatable stories of heartbreak and longing before tracks like “Boy Problems” and “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” but invites everyone to brush it all off with “Let’s Get Lost” and “This Kiss”. No matter the subject, bright melodies, pulsing synthesizers and flashing lights keep the energy upbeat and the room jumping. By the time “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You” crash through the speakers, the crowd is already on an emotional high.

Last year, I privately wondered whether the initial neon shock of Emotion would easily wear off over time. Nearly eight months later, I’m enjoying the record more than ever. There’s a very real shelf life in the world of pop radio – something Jepsen is acutely aware of. In 2015, certain pop mainstays managed to cast a convenient shadow over one of the year’s most critically acclaimed records, but Carly Rae’s ability to sidestep a potential drop off and barrel forward with the best music of her career has proved admirable. That she navigates an often dark and crooked business with a smile and a shrug, inviting us all to a much brighter point of view, is something even better.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Podcast: The Best Music of 2015

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Just when you thought those end of the year breakdowns were over – Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz return for one final discussion on the best music of 2015. During the chat, the duo break down splendid albums and singles from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, The Wonder Years, The Weeknd. The Early November, Carly Rae Jepsen and much more! What are you waiting for? Listen in below!

Subscribe to our podcast here. Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Top 10 Songs of 2015

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Choosing the top 10 songs of any given year is difficult. Each track serves as a building block within its given album, proving to be a chapter in a larger story. While context certainly provides meaning, there’s a reason why certain songs and moments resonate with us more than others.

The tracks below are an eclectic list of songs that made us dance, think and even cry during the course of 2015. They represent excellence in artistry and story telling, and they also resonate with us in a way that will carry their relevancy well beyond this passing year. Take a look (and a listen) below and share your own favorite songs from 2015 in the replies!

10. Bring Me the Horizon – “Happy Song”

In this new post-grunge incarnation, Bring Me the Horizon truly channel their inner Nirvana on “Happy Song”. Complete with loud, thrashing guitars, Oli Sykes’ gravelly delivery and even a backing choir of cheerleaders, the track toes the line between a desperate cry for help and an anthemic call to rise above the undertow. Creepily uttering the lines, “I’ve had enough / There’s a voice in my head / Says I’m better off dead”, Sykes turns a violent corner just in time for the chorus, shouting, “If I sing along / A little fucking louder / To a happy song / I’ll be alright”. With the band forgoing crunchy breakdowns in favor of tasteful programming elements and rousing guitar riffs, this is a lonely, sad song meant to be sung en masse. – Kiel Hauck

9. As It Is – “Speak Soft”

“Speak Soft” seems like a fairly basic pop punk song, but it’s special to me. It’s the first song I heard from a band that truly impressed me this year. This is a song that captures the magic that originally lured me to the genre almost two decades ago. Patty Walters and Andy Westhead dual throughout the chorus, providing a fine balance between the clean vocals and deep, guttural defiance. The guitars are sharp, playing during the verses and bridges, but brutal during the chorus. “Speak Soft” sounds like it should have been there since the early days of New Found Glory. The instant memorability and hook of it capture what I love about this band. Other songs on their debut, Never Happy, Ever After are better written with deeper lyrics, but “Speak Soft” will always embody the spirit of pop punk and the energy needed to stand out in a sea of bands that more or less tend to sound similar. – Kyle Schultz

8. Fall Out Boy – “Fourth of July”

As impossible as it was to believe that Fall Out Boy still hadn’t written their biggest hits heading into 2015, American Beauty/American Psycho not only put the nail in the coffin of the band’s pop punk roots, it vaulted them to the Top 40 radio stratosphere. As impressive as “Centuries” and “Uma Thurman” are, the unsung hero of Fall Out Boy’s new arsenal is the explosive “Fourth of July”, an epic track that finds Patrick Stump reaching new vocal heights. Aided as always by the biting lyrics of Pete Wentz, Stump carries the bitter track, singing, “Wish I’d known how much you loved me / Wish I cared enough to know / I’m sorry every song’s about you”. By the time the track hits its volatile chorus, you’re wondering why this wasn’t in the background of every fireworks display across the country this summer. At the core, this is the caustic, lovelorn Fall Out Boy we’ve always loved, but on the outside, this new gleaming pop rock armor fits the band all too well. – KH

7. Empty Houses – “Far Away”

There’s no shortage of bands looking for a vintage sound, but only a few really try to replicate the spirit as well. Empty Houses’ “Far Away” manages to capture a distinct era of sound and rekindle it to meet today’s pop needs. The result is utterly beautiful. The melodies are simple, the production helps it sound as though it has been a part of our lives for decades. Singer Ali Shea belts out some of the most impressive vocal work this side of Adele, rich and soulful. The chorus of, “I had this comfort build up inside, it was a good place for me to hide / I’m hoping for a little longer ride / And I cried all night, thinking about it / I’m trying to convince myself / And I’m alright living without it” is nothing short of astonishingly wonderful. Dave Mackinder’s backing vocals and musicianship are a powerful subtlety that allows the vocals to truly shine while maintaining an instantly recognizable and memorable melody. – KS

6. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away With Me”

The opening track to Emotion serves as the perfect re-introduction to Carly Rae Jepsen, a true star no longer mired in one-hit-wonder language. “Run Away with Me” is the cherry atop a splendid ice cream sundae of a pop album, rich in throwback pop tones and complimented with a sultry saxophone, although it’s Jepsen herself that serves as the primary instrument. It’s an expertly crafted pop song that showcases Carly Rae the person and the artist in perfect duality. Not only does the track connect with the let’s get out of here desires of every young love, (“We never sleep, we never try, when you are with me”), its eager delivery feels earnest thanks to Jepsen’s on-tape flare. So. Many. Emotions. – KH

5. The Early November – “Better This Way”

The Early November have always walked a fine line between indie emo and ballistic prog rock. “Better This Way” personifies this struggle to great effect, with gentle verses and a raging, shouting chorus. The song takes its time before blooming with the harsh grit of guitarwork and crunching drums. Ace Enders’ vocals show significant maturity as he speaks softly throughout the verses before some intense shouting during the chorus. The song is moody, bristling with emotion and carries a crazy amount of energy for such a plodding tempo. The midsection scales itself back even further, as Enders whispers over the tease of guitar snaps like the tinkling of a spider’s web before launching back into the incredible chorus. “Better This Way” embodies the best of The Early November, especially the intellect and experimentation that has come to define this stage of their careers. – KS

4. The Weeknd – “The Hills”

In truth, we really shouldn’t enjoy “The Hills” as much as we do. A track laced with deceit, addiction and horror, “The Hills” worms its way into your skull with a dark, brash bassline, blood curdling screams, and a disturbingly infectious chorus from Abel Tesfaye. In the post-modern pop world of 2015, this is what passes as a love song, as The Weeknd laments “driving through the gated residential” in route to his sinfully secret mistress, having just “fucked two bitches” beforehand. Tesfaye is nothing if not frank. It’s no surprise that The Weeknd doesn’t pull punches here, using contagiously catchy pop melodies to lure us into his world, before reminding us that we’ve actually been there all along. “The hills have eyes / Who are you to judge?” – KH

3. Motion City Soundtrack – “I Can Feel You”

“I Can Feel You” is one of the highlights of Panic Stations. Pristine, lazy guitars layered over an up-tempo beat and Justin Pierre’s slacky vocals make this song feel like the inner-workings of his mind. Self-doubt slowly builds while the beat never ends its relentless push forward. As Pierre sings, “I’m starting to see / The problem with me / is everything”, you can feel the tension and panic build before the chorus offers a euphoric release. However, the most rewarding part of “I Can Feel You” is the second half. Following a dreamlike bridge, the song ramps into an explosion of sound and Pierre’s frantic, desperate vocals, pleading with someone else while fighting for his own sanity. It’s an amazing moment, and sounds like an indirect sequel to fan favorite song, “Time Turned Fragile”. – KS

2. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

To Pimp a Butterfly is such a sprawling, oddly cohesive epic that it’s difficult to cherry pick. Without proper context, each individual track loses a touch of its bite. But if you had to choose one moment that encompasses the spirit of the record and serves as the necessary outcry against a painful backdrop of racism and police brutality, it would be Kendrick’s resounding refrain of, “We gon’ be alright!” “Alright” delves deep into Lamar’s psyche as he argues against voices that seek to pigeonhole and shame him, armed with a pen and his convictions: “I write ‘til I’m right with God”. A sporadic and powerful drum beat carries the track from start to breathtaking finish. Much more than just a chapter of the story, “Alright” is a rallying cry for a community in search of hope. – KH

1. The Wonder Years – “Cigarettes & Saints”

The Wonder Years have been known for their storytelling abilities for years, but “Cigarettes & Saints” is a beast different from anything else they’ve ever put out. In four minutes, the band manages to hit every high of their abilities and push their extremes while creating one of the stand out songs of the year. Starting as a slow strum of the guitar and lovetap of a snare drum, the song expands into a full-blown rock ballad that ends as genuine, defiant punk rock. It’s the slowest, quietest music the band has ever written, with a simple, mundane, perfect guitar line sliding throughout that builds it into a raging beast. Soupy’s storytelling dances about, hitting several areas and ideas that only build off of each other, starting as a eulogy that slowly takes a stab at religion and ends as an all-out attack on the pharmaceutical industry. Not making a full-on pop punk song as the highlight of their album was a risky move for a band known for being loud, but it only added to The Wonder Years’ insane writing abilities. – KS

Honorable Mention:

CHVRCHES – “Leave a Trace”

Drake – “10 Bands”

Mayday Parade – “Hollow”

Grimes – “REALiTi”

Nate Ruess ft. Beck – “What This Wold is Coming To”

Posted by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

5 New Songs to Add to Your Christmas Playlist

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Now that the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been devoured, it’s time to conjure up some holiday cheer in the form of your favorite Christmas songs! In addition to your usual playlist, we’d like to offer up a few fresh tracks that we think will add nicely to your holiday decorating soundtrack. Take a look below for five new songs to guide you through the holiday season.

This Wild Life – “Sleigh Ride”

With their airy-light acoustic delivery and Kevin Jordan’s delicate vocals, This Wild Life are the perfect duo for Christmas cheer. Their rendition of “Sleigh Ride” is a jolly ride through a classic holiday song and will serve as the perfect backdrop to your winter gatherings. Can we get a full album of this, guys?

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Last Christmas”

There have been several covers of Wham’s smash single through the years, but Carly Rae has joined the party with her own unique take on a holiday classic. With a sensual saxophone backdrop and Carly’s token bubblegum melody leading the way, this rendition of “Last Christmas” is sure to be tickling your ears during your holiday shopping trips this year.

August Burns Red – “Home Alone Theme”

Why has nobody thought to do this sooner? August Burns Red continue their tradition of serving up metalcore instrumentals of some of our favorite Christmas classics, this time in the form of a John Williams cover. It’s a brutal, guitar-filled ride conjuring up memories of that creepy dude with the snow shovel outside Kevin’s house who turned out to be a pretty decent guy.

Issues – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”

If anyone was going to cover this *NSYNC holiday classic, who better than Issues, guided by the vocal gymnastics of Tyler Carter? Carter’s smooth delivery guides glorious liberties taken with the melody. Even when Michael Bohn chimes in with some backing screams, the track still manages to feel cheerful, which is quite the feat.

The Killers – “Dirt Sledding”

Carrying on a tradition of Christmas originals, The Killers have returned with “Dirt Sledding”, a hilarious country-tinged track of a holiday song, highlighted by Brandon Flowers over-the-top vocal delivery. In need of a laugh and a smile this holiday season? The Killers have just what you need.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.