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Press play: 7 go-to holiday tracks loved by locals

Many locals say holiday songs are intrinsic to their Christmas gathering. Thinkstock/Special to The Forum.

FARGO — Familiar festive tunes filter through our everyday routines this time of year whether we're shopping, cooking or gathering with the family. These songs intertwine so closely with our memories that we all may be asking the question sung in the 1962 iconic track, "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

According to, more than 200 iHeartMedia radio stations switch their playlists to a holiday format by Dec. 7. In fact, more than 60,000 people are likely streaming Christmas stations on Spotify today and will continue to use these stations until Dec. 25.

Though ranks Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" at the top of "The Holiday 100," residents in the Red River Valley have more eclectic tastes ranging from bluegrass, Celtic punk to Gospel.

Here are seven go-to holiday songs nominated by locals.

1."Christmas Is" by Francesca Battistelli

Nominated by: Zoe Bundy, 13, Fargo

Released in 2012, Christian singer Battistelli celebrates the simple, and sometimes hilarious, moments of the holiday season.

"The song is pretty much a summary of everything that happens at Thanksgiving and Christmas," she says. "From good family times to a burnt turkey, I think this song can describe everyone's past and future holiday experiences."

2. "Christmas in Prison" by John Prine

Nominated by: Ryan Johnson, 32, Fargo

Described as "not a typical" holiday song, "Christmas in Prison" still makes Johnson feel nostalgic even though the song has a humorous tone.

"It's a perfect example of Prine's sharp wit and ability to pick up on little details that tell the whole story, with lines like, 'It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good / We had turkey and pistols carved out of wood'," Johnson says.

3. "Mrs. Claus Ain't Got Nothin' On Me" by Little Jackie

Nominated by: Lisa Kornkven, 44, Fargo

While teaching general music, Kornkven heard this song in 2010 when she received it through a free download from Target.

"This song is so catchy!" she says. "It is a great song to have playing when you are wrapping presents, making cookies or any time you might start to feel overwhelmed by the holidays."

Kornkven shares her holiday music passion with her daughter and says their favorite genre of music is Christmas. In fact, she says this track is part of a playlist that is 14 hours long.

4. "The Season's Upon Us" by Dropkick Murphys

Nominated by: Jason Dannelly, 37, Fargo

Dannelly says this song is "classic" to him and his brother, even if it only was produced in 2012.

"It's tongue in cheek, but some of the reality described in the song makes it even more funny," he says.

5. "Silver Bells" by Dwight Yoakam

Nominated by: Karin Dahlsad, 59, Georgetown, Minn.

Dahlsad turns on the holiday music early; she and her youngest daughter start to listen to the genre in November. She chose this version of "Silver Bells" which she first heard as a child.

"This song brings back memories of my family piling into the car to go see the animated bears in the Herbst store window," she says. "It was magical to a small child half a century ago."

6. "Zat You Santa Claus" by Buster Poindexter and His Banshees Of Blue ‎

Nominated by: Rich Peterson, 74, Moorhead

This humorous pop song has jazz roots — Louis Armstrong first debuted it in the 1950s. Buster Poindexter — known as David Johansen, the front man of an iconic punk band called the New York Dolls — released his version of this track in 1985.

7. "Little Drummer Boy" by Harry Simeone Chorale

Nominated by: Tim Kasper of The Blenders, Fargo

Kasper says he loves the version he and The Blenders have created, but this version of the song — featured on 1999 episode of "The West Wing" — is memorable, augmented by the show's storyline of planning a funeral for a homeless veteran.

"The song is so beautiful in its simplicity. To me, it's a song about hope and making the most of what you have," he says.

 Listen to this holiday playlist created by Red River Valley locals on Spotify or YouTube

April Knutson

April Knutson is lifestyle-focused journalist producing stories for the Forum News Service about people, health, community issues, and services. She earned her degree in both English Literature and Mass Communications. After working as a digital marketing specialist and web design consultant for a few years, she joined Forum Communications in 2015. She grew up on a farm near Volga, S.D. Follow her on Twitter @april_knutson.

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