Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us either can’t visit shopping malls this holiday season, or we avoid them at all cost. This means that we aren’t subjected to endless holiday-themed songs — some we love, some we find pretty meh, and some that drive us crazy.
Below, we are happy to share 11 holiday songs that, in our opinion, belong in the first category: the best of the best! These are well-known and widely beloved productions — some classic and some modern — that make us forget our troubles and worries, and inspire us to remember good times with family and friends (and beer!).
And so, we invite you to turn up your speakers and enjoy what we feel are the 11 greatest holiday songs of all time (in no particular order):
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Some things are just meant to go together. Like peanut butter and jelly, like Bert and Ernie, like Rick and Morty — but Bing Crosby and David Bowie!? Honestly, there couldn’t be two more different singers on the planet. Bing Crosby was the king of easy listening, and David Bowie was Ziggy Stardust. Who knows — maybe the idea of having them perform a duet of The Little Drummer Boy was a practical joke, but this turned out to be one of the greatest holiday songs of all time.
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
From the first moment you hear Elvis belt out the opening line, you know that you’re in for two minutes (two minutes and ten seconds to be precise) of pure vocal heaven. The background singers doing their “OooOoowweeeOOooooo” adds to the texture, and makes this song seem larger than life — just like The King himself. Go ahead, click below and just try and avoid snapping your fingers, bobbing your head or tapping your foot. It just can’t be done!
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?” Well, if you’re fortunate you’ve listened to this glorious song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono over and over again — because it’s just so good. Our favorite part is towards the end, when the children’s choir dials it up and reminds us that, “war is over if you want it.” It’s powerful, poetic stuff that is at once hopeful and bittersweet. Go ahead and take a listen, and don’t blame us if you shed a tear or two.
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft
Okay, if you’re an emotional wreck after listening to the last couple of songs on our list, then this will cheer you up! Sure, it’s about a creature who enjoys ruining Christmas for the good people of Whoville, and whose heart is two sizes too small. But the song is just so fun and wacky — especially if you listen to it while watching the video, which is taken from the Dr. Seuss classic animated special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which many of us have seen a hundred (or maybe a thousand) times.
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
Many people have recorded White Christmas, but there is one definitive version — and we all know that this is the one. Perhaps no other singer has so completely captured the spirit of the season as Bing Crosby. It doesn’t matter if you live someplace with plenty of snow (like we do), or if the closest you get to snow is the stuff that builds up inside your freezer. If you close your eyes and listen to this, you’ll be transported to the North Pole where it’s Christmas all the time.
Merry Christmas Baby by Charles Brown
Some people prefer Merry Christmas Baby by legendary singer Otis Redding — and it’s certainly an amazing version. However, we feel that the version by Charles Brown is nothing short of liquid gold that is poured into your ears, and then coats your heart and soul. And it’s not just Mr. Brown’s stunning vocal chops — the musicianship is also out of this world.
Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder
This is such a delightful song that talks about a world full of smiles and hope and peace which, as the incomparable Stevie Wonder tells us, will happen when “we have learned what Christmas is for.” Really, this is the song that you hear when you’re in the car or in a store, and you just want to stop what you’re doing and take it all in. It’s hard to believe that it was released way back in 1967. Here we are more than half a century later, and it’s still so fresh and dynamic. But as they say, the classics never go out of style!
Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra
OK yes, we get it: you’ve heard a million versions of Jingle Bells. But the rendition by the chairman of the board himself — Mr. Frank Sinatra — stands head and shoulders above the rest (in our opinion, of course!). Go ahead and listen, and we’ll bet that you’ll start crooning with Frankie.
Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande
Do you think all of the best holiday songs are from decades ago? Then you haven’t heard this instant classic from Ariana Grande (yes, that Ariana Grande). However, be warned: you’re going to get this song stuck in your head because it’s basically a five-minute-and-thirty-nine-second dose of sweet, sweet ear candy.
All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
This song is considered by many to be the greatest holiday song of all time — and if you use radio airplay and Billboard rankings as the basis, then it’s hard to argue with this conclusion. Consider this: it’s Mariah Carey’s best-selling single of all time with more than 16 million copies sold (and counting). It’s also the 12th biggest single of ALL TIME and has earned Ms. Carey more than $60 million in royalties. She can buy a lot of gifts with that amount of money. Heck, she can buy a lot of gift stores.
Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano
What, did you think that we’d share a list of the 11 best holiday songs of all time and fail to include this fantastic classic by José Feliciano? C’mon everyone, let’s all sing it together: I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS, I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS, I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!
What Do You Think?
Did we nail it with our list of the 11 best holiday songs of all time? Tell us what you think of our selections, and please add your favorites as well. The more music we can all enjoy over the holidays — and especially after a difficult and stressful year — the better!