How do you feel about Christmas music? I don’t care for it. Too cheerful and lyrics make straight references to snow, being jolly, holiness, or Christmas itself. It’s very niche music! And then you hear Christmas music in that awkward span between Halloween and New Years when it’s okay to play it, because apparently there’s way too much of it to be limited to December.
Here are five of my favorite tracks from video games that resemble Christmas music. Unlike real Christmas music, none of this is awful! Also, the lack of lyrics makes this music timeless, so you could enjoy it on a hot summer’s day. There’s also something really cheerful about sleigh bells, which nearly all of these tracks feature.
#5 Super Mario 64: Snow Mountain – Koji Kondo
Starting things off at number 5 is Snow Mountain by Koji Kondo. Snow Mountain is a track that eluded me for some time. I thought I recalled there being a snow level in Super Mario 64 (there are actually two), but I couldn’t remember what it was called. Anyway, what makes this work is that it’s consistent with the other fun time tunes in the game; you can hear the main melody in the Rainbow Ride level or Princess Peach’s Secret Slide.
#4 Diddy Kong Racing: Frosty Village – David Wise
There is one track that I can recall from the whole of Diddy Kong Racing, and it’s embedded right above this text. This track is based on on “Winter Wonderland,” so naturally it sounds like Christmas music. However, David Wise brings some of his classic flavor to make this track distinctive and fun.
#3 Banjo-Kazooie: Click Clock Woods (Winter theme) – Grant Kirkhope
Coming in at number 3 is something to get you chilly. This track has a nice bit of ambient winds, so you know it’s cold outside. The xylophone and glockenspiel make it sound frosty. Then the warm strings come in, complimented by the bells, and it’s, well, warm! You can almost smell the fresh baked gingerbread cookies as you come in from the cold. It’s good winter music.
#2 Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie’s Double Trouble: Jangle Bells – Eveline Novakovic
This very jazzy song prominently features a saxophone and bells, but mixes things up by using a tambourine, trumpet, xylophone, and bass guitar. This hidden track has a very heavy Christmas vibe. It’s fun, has the Donkey Kong Country 3 flavor, and is actually quite relaxing.
#1 Banjoo-Kazooie: Freezeezy Peak – Grant Kirkhope
My number 1 favorite track is the track that inspired this article. I loved the Freezeezy Peak level in Banjo-Kazooie, so sometimes I’ll just start whistling this song. Every time I do, I can see the giant snowman and the decorative lights, a walrus sledding through the snow, and giant presents under a pine tree. There’s a special place in my heart for this track.
The brass keeps it uplifting, cheerful, and bouncy. Combined with the sleigh bells, this track has “sleigh ride” written all over it. The glockenspiel is back to make it suitably chilly, too. You know you’re playing in a wonderful winterland here. Go build a snowman! Go sledding!
These have been some of my favorite winter holiday songs. It’s kind of amusing that all five examples come from Nintendo 64 games, four of which are Rare titles. I could use some diversity in my collection, so what is your favorite winter holiday music used in video games?