The days are shorter, the nights are colder and the trees are bare. Inside, fireplaces are crackling to shield loved ones from the chilly air. When winter makes its way back around, sunny days can sometimes feel like distant, made-up memories.
While the gloom can lead to long hours inside as you avoid muddy snow and frostbitten fingers, those languid evenings can transform into quite the cozy affair, given the right soundtrack. That’s why Billboard has put together a list of 26 essential tracks for your wintertime listening pleasure.
We know December marks the beginning of celebrations for “the most wonderful time of the year.” But a good winter playlist goes beyond Christmas trees and jingling bells. The mix should be one you’d listen to all season long — weeks and months after unwrapping your final gift. So no, you won’t find Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” nor any of your holiday favorites below (for that, you can check out Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Holiday 100 list based on our charts).
Keep reading to discover tunes consistent with the mood shift that — for many of us — rolls in with the cold front. The increased time spent with our own thoughts brings on a brooding self-reflection that can feel as comforting as it can feel overwhelming. Artists from Taylor Swift to Bob Dylan to The Weeknd have captured that feeling, crafting riveting wintery melodies ideal for introspection, whether you’re curled up with your favorite blanket or venturing out into the snow.