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Five splendid secular songs for the season

By Nicholas RansbottomWest Virginia State UniversityCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- December is a very magical time. In fact, Andy Williams claims it to be the "most wonderful time of the year," though I'm not sure if that's too much hyperbole on his end. Still, there's no denying there's a certain je ne sais quoi about the month.Most radio stations will be playing Christmas music exclusively until January, meaning carols and traditional songs will be repeated ad nauseam until you begin to wonder if maybe the Grinch had it right all along. But what if you want to listen to some songs for the season that aren't religious in nature? Fear not, as these five secular holiday songs are sure to put you in the seasonal spirit, sans any spiritual undertones."My Favorite Things" by Julie AndrewsTechnically "My Favorite Things" isn't a holiday song, but it's seasonal-themed lyrics have led to it becoming one.Julie Andrews was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her performance as Maria in "The Sound of Music," and her take on the classic Broadway tune for the film's soundtrack is one of the song's best versions. Andrews' crisp and cheerful vocals make the song's upbeat tone positively infectious. 
"All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah CareySince most of us grew up listening to it, Mariah Carey's mega-popular, romantic Christmas hit is perhaps the best-known entry on this list. (If you're one of our readers who isn't a teenager and was over the age of 5 when this came out, my apologies for making you feel so old).One of the best pop Christmas songs ever recorded, it's a staple of the holiday season. Though countless artists have covered it, nothing beats Carey's original that's full of chiming bells and her trademark airy vocals."River by Joni Mitchell" Unlike the other songs on this list, "River" is melancholic, but it still captures the charm of the season. There's always a hint of oddly beautiful somberness to the holidays, and this ballad is perfect for those wanting a break from December's holly jolly nature."Last Christmas" by "Glee" cast This cover of Wham!'s cheesy '80s hit is annoyingly fun and catchy. Lea Michele and Cory Monteith, perform a great duet (accompanied by Amber Riley), but it's the choir-like "bum bum bum bum's" by the background vocalists that really make this seasonal guilty pleasure jam.
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Michael Bublé Though it's hard to compete with Judy Garland's original for the film "Meet Me in St. Louis," Bublé offers a wonderful jazz rendition of this Christmas classic. His rich, smooth vocals are comforting, making this a beautifully sentimental yet non-religious holiday tune.
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