Making a Christmas compilation is becoming just as much of a holiday tradition as hanging ornaments or baking cookies.
With easy-to-use computer programs so prevalent, it’s simple for Santa’s little helpers to burn Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and Jessica and Ashlee Simpson’s “Little Drummer Boy” on a CD and call it a mix.
MTVNews.com suggests diving deeper into the genre — it’s impossible to go wrong with Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” or U2′s “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” — but why listen to us when you can take advice from some of music’s hottest artists?
Here are some songs Alicia Keys, Billie Joe Armstrong and others suggest for your holiday mix:
Alicia Keys: “I have two favorites. ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ [better known as 'The Christmas Song' and most famously recorded by Nat King Cole] and ‘The First Noel.’ I’m actually trying to figure out a way to do them to make them my own.”
Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day: “I’d say that Band Aid song ['Do They Know It's Christmas?,' which was originally recorded in 1984 and re-recorded last month]. I like that song. It’s really good.”
Mike Dirnt of Green Day: “I like the song ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.’ ”
Kelly Clarkson: “It’s between ‘O Holy Night’ or ‘My Grown Up Christmas List’ ” — both of which she sings on American Idol: The Great Holiday Classics. “They’re kind of different for me. One’s really simple and one’s really big and sounds beautiful when you see someone sing it.”
James Valentine of Maroon 5: “We just recorded ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over),’ the John Lennon track. I think that’s an amazing one, especially right now. The lyrics are pretty heavy.”
Chris Cester of Jet: “There’s one called ‘Back Door Santa.’ I can’t remember who wrote it” — that would be Clarence Carter of ‘Strokin’ ‘ fame — “but it’s an old blues number, and it’s great. We do a cover of it.”
John Mayer: “Christmas songs, as I get older, are making me cry like a bitch. The older you get, the more you hear a Christmas song from your childhood and you just lose it completely. ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ or any of that creepy boys’-choir stuff. And the ‘Home Alone’ theme. Go back and get that. It’s some sad stuff.”
Clay Aiken: “My favorite holiday song right now kind of goes back and forth, but I think after a year of singing these things over and over” — while recording his new Merry Christmas With Love LP — “it’s ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ It’s one of the songs that stays really powerful to me because it’s so haunting and it talks about what the holiday season’s about. It has a lot more meaning to me, I think, than any other Christmas songs do.”
Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver: “It’s gotta be Bing Crosby, ‘White Christmas.’ ”
Bonnie McKee: [Singing "Last Christmas," originally recorded by Wham!] ” ‘Last Christmas/ I gave you my heart/ And the very next day/ You gave it away.’ That’s probably my favorite ’cause it’s just so cheesy and horrible you can’t say no to it. And you sing it year-round, ’cause you can’t get it out of your head.”
Martin Luther of the Roots: “The ultimate Christmas song for me, personally, is Donny Hathaway’s ‘This Christmas,’ because it’s just a beautiful song. Even if I wanna get away from the spirit of Christmas or have debates about the authenticity of this and that, that song, it sounds pure, it sounds beautiful.”