1. Snowsuit Sound - Sloan
It's a trip back to childhood, when winter was about snowmen and forts and soggy mittens. It's lumbering up to the top of a hill in your red one-piece snowsuit, catching a glimpse of your secret crush and being pegged off with a dripping slushball in the eye. This tune comes complete with jaunty handclaps and Jay Ferguson's quavering vocals, a highlight from 1994's Twice Removed, the classic Canadian album that really should have been a worldwide smash.
2. Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles
Susanna Hoffs' spritely vocals transform Simon and Garfunkel's sombre metaphors about regret and loss into perfect '80s froth. This ace rocker will be forever linked to rich-kids-on-drugs flick 'Less Than Zero' (remember Andrew McCarthy, James Spader and Jami Gertz?), released at the height of the Brat Pack's coolness. That was the decade Robert Downey Jr. was a witty and rakish bad boy with box office clout -- rather, the first decade.
3. Cold As Ice - Foreigner
Every playlist needs a straight-up 70s rock-your-socks anthem, and this fits the bill nicely. Lou Gramm verbally lashes a chilly ex with soaring lyrics about impending revenge ("And some day you'll paaaaay"). There's the requisite guitar solo, but then the killer a capella harmonies of the bridge kick in and it's arena rock heaven. These guys are unbelievably still touring with a paltry excuse for a Lou Gramm replacement, but back in your dad's (or grandpa's) day, they were as cool as it gets.
4. You Are My Joy - The Reindeer Section
The Reindeer Section may be the only indie Scottish supergroup in history, and the only band named after Santa's sleigh-mates. Made up of players from Arab Strap, Snow Patrol, Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian among many others, they only released two albums. This -- the lead single off their second effort, 2002's 'Son of Evil Reindeer' -- is what every holiday song should be, warm and comforting and festive, like a hot toddy on a nippy night. Only one problem: If the reindeer sang like this, Santa would never leave the North Pole.
5. Snow In California - The Stills
Just one of the sparkling tunes from the Montreal band's fine 2008 album 'Oceans Will Rise', 'Snow In California's lyrics have apocalyptic overtones (if it's snowing in California, you might want to get out the emergency kit), appropriate for one of those end-of-the-world blizzards that make you want to just pull up the covers and spend the day in a warm bed. A surefire hit for your snow-day soundtrack.
6. Higher Than The Stars - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
This gorgeous song really has nothing to do with winter, but it's a giddy delight that will warm up your frost-bitten toes. The track wouldn't seem out of place in a John Hughes film, and yet it seems fresh and youthful and decidedly new. It's a paean to teenage fumblings in "the back of my mother's car" and wistful regrets of the one that got away.
7. Tropical Ice-land - The Fiery Furnaces
Brooklyn brother-sister duo Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger crafted a quirky ode to a very cold country, complete with a Beach-Boys-on-acid chorus and an autoharp. It's hard to say exactly what they are getting at with their lyrics ("Paper maché parade on at night/That's what you do with no sunlight") but it's a great, loopy, cold-weather delight, the utter fun of a snowball fight in the middle of the workday.
8. Invisible - Winter Gloves
I normally don't consider the words "jammy" or "jazzy" to be descriptors of a positive nature when it comes to music. But here, it works. This Montreal band began as a side project for jazz drummer Charles F, but has now evolved into a groovy band that deftly mixes in pop, rock and electronic elements. With an icy synthesized drumbeat and breathy vocals, the result is a cool and catchy snow-tune.
9. November Was White, December Grey - Say Hi
Well, you knew it couldn't be all sweetness and light with winter staring us down. Seattle lo-fi outfit Say Hi is primarily composed of one member, Eric Elbogen, who sings and plays most of the instruments. It's fitting, since this haunting track has a particularly lonesome sound, with melancholy vocals accompanied by an austere guitar line and spare synths. It's the heavyhearted soundtrack for a frigid day when you're begging for a ray of light.
...and if all else fails:
10. Keep It Going Louder - Major Lazer
Sexy, sweaty and one of the summer's guiltiest pleasures: Uber-cool DJs Diplo and Switch created a dancefloor banger with autotune, Nina Sky and a reggaeton beat. If this doesn't warm you up, you might want to try a hot water bottle. Or three.