It’s official: Kadhja Bonet loves Christmas. Well, most of us do, deep down – but this time, she’s decided to put it all down on record.
Out now, her new six track EP ‘California Holiday’ is themed around the festive season, a sextet of Charlie Brown inspired songs that dip into the wonder of Advent. Billed as a “modern take on the typical magical Christmas story” it’s typically enchanting, with Kadhja melting together psychedelia, soul, R&B, jazz, and more into a holy brew of mulled spirits.
Much more than a seasonal project, it feels like a considered, rounded piece of work, with a message that you can dip into at any time of the year.
Clash caught up with Kadhja Bonet to chat about her favourite left-of-centre Christmas songs. Find her picks below.
Dolly Parton – ‘Hard Candy Christmas‘
Dolly. What an actual legend.
I love this song. I love how she captures the feeling – in only a few bars – of our insatiable attempts to “improve” ourselves to mask sadness.
But Dolly is a responsible driver, and she doesn’t leave us there. The song flips with a bright chorus, and the pain of insecurity becomes an opportunity for actual self love.
Kool and the Gang – ‘Winter Sadness‘
Nearly a Haiku for SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. I just love that acronym. Sounds like a patient said, “I don’t know doctor, I can’t eat, can’t sleep, and the idea of having to see my mother-in-law in a month and pretend I like her cooking has me seriously reconsidering all my life choices,” and the doctor said “Sounds like you got sad,” and then the patient said, “what’s that stand for, Doctor?” and the doctor said, “…Seasonal… Affective… Dis… Disorder.”
And the patient said, “yes that’s it – that’s exactly it – I got SAD.” Then they embraced. Then the patient said “is it permitted to hug patients?” and the Doctor said “SShh. I need this…”
This bop should not be restricted to the holiday season.
Vince Guaraldi Trio – ‘Great Pumpkin Waltz’
I always tell people I’m the Charlie Browniest. But in truth, I could never. Vince Guaraldi’s accompaniments are just so fly, Charlie Brown still looks cool 60 years later.
Slade – ‘Merry Xmas Everybody‘
I want to scream along to this song in a pub, arm in arm with miss-matched strangers, and then look across the bar and see someone’s sweet smile, and share a moment thinking about starting our lives over with each other before remembering that when we are sober we will probably hate everything about everything again, including and maybe most of all about each other.
Then I will wonder what I am doing at a pub instead of being at my child’s embarrassment of a rendition of the Nutcracker with their insufferable second grade class, and demand everyone around me put on a hygienic mask immediately.
Sting – ‘Gabriel’s Message‘
I love a dark, Old English Christmas. This song has an eerie bleakness that reminds me I have no idea what Christianity is actually about but f*ck Sting has a good voice.
Luther Vandross – ‘The Mistletoe Jam‘
This song is silly and fonky and it makes me want to kiss somebody.
The Emotions – ‘What Do the Lonely Do for Christmas‘
A song for a bath, a mushroom tea and a lavender candle, that quickly progresses to naked karaoke on the dining table. Housemates arriving unexpectedly will either kill your buzz or heighten it, depending on the strength of your tea and the energy of your decor.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – ‘8 Days Of Hannukah‘
The late great channels vintage Sesame Street realness for this jammy jam.
The Wailers – ‘Christmas Spirit ??’
What if Bob Dylan had the first garage-rock band ever and he sang Christmas songs ?? And he ended song titles with a space and two question marks to give you the impression he is still in the process of naming the song ??
Requesting this song will make you the hip hipster at the work function where everyone is a little too drunk except Margaret because Margaret is just there to get dirt on everyone else.
Carpenters – ‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear‘
If you like listening to sweet and savoury harmonies you will love this. Turn it up in headphones and think about how you could never make something so delicately perfect. And then say “what the hell I’ll try anyway” and go make that thing you always wanted to make, cuz everyone started somewhere.
Photo Credit: Mark Escribano