Quad City DJs’ "What You Want" is the Best Christmas Song You Ain't Listening To

quad city DJs what you want for christmas

As radio stations across the country look to ban “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from the Christmas season airwaves, I’d like to offer in its stead a Christmas classic we’ve overlooked for far too long: Quad City DJs’ “What You Want For Christmas.”

Since this song dropped in 1996, the Christmas season hasn’t really started for me until I hear it on the radio. When I was 10, I had the verses memorized. Even though I’ve never been a fan of eggnog, I was (and still am) up for some eggnog Alizé.

The call-and-response lines that mix with this black-ass riff on “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – the original works so much better as a hook or cache of punchlines than a song sung in round, tbh – are just as iconic as their other hits. Gimme all the songs that start with “Hey Playa!” and “Ahhh Baby!”

But, for whatever reason, most people I encounter have never heard of “What You Want for Christmas.” It’s an American travesty.

From the opening jingle bells, “What You Want” is Quad City DJs at their finest, offering a baseline any kid can do the latest dance craze to. If you’re trying to get the Christmas party started, throw this right after TLC’s “Sleigh Ride,” and err’ybody at the function gon’ be up and on the dance floor. Just pass Big Momma her tambourine.

Most Christmas songs present an idealistic and often unattainable view of what this time of year looks like, especially if you don’t have a boo or a Michael’s budget (when’s the last time you roasted chestnuts?). But both verses in this Xmas jam give practical, inclusive lists of year-round necessities. While the male rapper asks for a 12-disc changer and nine Sega tapes, K-Nock is going for a look with nine packs of weave and 11 pairs of shoes. Listen, please leave seven pairs of jeans, five months of free rent and three packs of draws underneath my tree. I could use the reup.

Plus, who doesn’t want to save a little bit on bills this month? Verse one makes it plain to Santa that, after he gets back from the club’s 2-for-1 special:

Can you leave me a lil extra cash?
‘Cause I ain’t gone lie
All these Christmas lights got my light bill high

Same bruh, same.

Dare I say, there’s even something for the discriminating, out-of-touch Republican in your life who is terrified of red Christmas cups and unjustly losing his rights. K-Nock is sure to mention Jesus Christ right out the gate in her verse, even giving a beat of respect for the messiah, even though he was definitely not born of Christmas.

We deserve more nice things in this cycle of perpetual trash, so I’m throwing this jam in the ring to reunite us on office holiday party dance floors and retail shopping centers. It’s the Christmas magic we need and deserve.

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Princess McDowell is a poet, writer and journalist from Dallas, Texas. She's released a CD of poetry entitled Not A Storybook <3 and a chapbook named faith move muscle. She's currently writing her first fiction novel. She can be reached at princess.mcdowell@gmail.com