Every holiday season, you hear a lot of the same Christmas songs over and over again, whether you’re at home or out and about getting your Christmas shopping done. Over the years, I have found that there are certain Christmas songs or certain renditions of Christmas songs that I enjoy listening to year after year. In my personal opinion, these are some of the best Christmas songs of all-time:
Pet Shop Boys – “It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas”: This was originally released as a limited edition fan club single as a Christmas gift to their fans in 1997; however, the song later ended up on the Elton John’s Christmas Party compilation album. This isn’t necessarily a straightforward Christmas song, but it’s a fun, upbeat, and enjoyable song to listen to. The song talks, in some respects, about how the true meaning of Christmas has been lost over the years.
Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song”: This is one of the most traditional songs to hear during the Christmas season, and I have yet to hear another rendition of this song that sounds better than Nat’s recording. There’s just something about Nat’s vocal delivery, combined with the arrangement of the music that really makes this song stand out. If you want to have “The Christmas Song” in your Christmas playlist, then this is really the version you want to have.
Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”: This song was recorded as a charity single in 1984 to help raise awareness of the famine in Ethiopia, and was released during the holiday season. While this song may have been recorded in the mid-1980s, it really doesn’t sound that dated. Personally, I think this was one of the best Christmas songs to come out during the 1980s.
John Denver & The Muppets – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: This rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was recorded for the 1979 television special, John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. It’s a simple arrangement, but John Denver and the Muppets really bring something to this version. The songs John Denver and the Muppets recorded for this special have a special place in my heart, and I have enjoyed them since I was a child.
The Chipmunks – “The Chipmunk Song”: This song from the 1950s has become an enduring Christmas classic, and is especially enjoyed by children. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (The Chipmunks) have become classic characters in their own right, and the fact that this song was featured in the 2007 feature film also adds to this song’s appeal. It just simply wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t hear Alvin singing about wanting a hula hoop.
Erasure – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”: Erasure’s version of this song was released on a pressing of their Crackers International EP, which was released in 1988. Lead singer Andy Bell sings this song with an incredible falsetto that doesn’t sound forced or strained. If you’re not adverse to synthpop or electronic music, then you might enjoy this recording of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
Bruce Springsteen – “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”: One of my favorite parts of the recording of this song is the opening banter that Bruce has with the audience. As to the actual song itself, Bruce is able to bring his distinctive vocal sound to it. Even with that distinctive sound, Bruce is able to retain the spirit of the song.
“Weird Al” Yankovic – “Christmas at Ground Zero”: If you don’t mind comedic Christmas music, then you might enjoy this song that “Weird Al” recorded in 1986. From what Al has said, his record label kept asking him to record a Christmas song; when Al finally relented, this is what he recorded. If you can’t guess by the title, it’s a song about celebrating Christmas in the wake of a nuclear bomb being dropped. Probably what really makes this song is the fact that Al is singing about such a topic with very happy and upbeat music to accompany it.
Boyz II Men – “Silent Night”: ”Silent Night” is my favorite Christmas song of all-time. While many versions of the song have been recorded over the years, this rendition of the song really stands out to me. I appreciate how Boyz II Men decided to record it as an a cappella song; somehow, I think it’s a more powerful song when there is no music to accompany it.
Enya – “Oiche Chiun”: Technically, this is another recording of “Silent Night,” except that Enya sings it in Gaelic. I may not understand the words that Enya is singing, but her vocal delivery is just so beautiful that it doesn’t matter that I don’t know the words that she’s singing.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”: I first heard this song on the radio back in 1997, and I fell in love with it instantly. It may be an instrumental track, but it’s incredibly powerful and it grabs the listener. For me, it’s my favorite Christmas instrumental song, and I enjoy listening to it every year during the Christmas season.
Michael W. Smith – “Angels We Have Heard on High/Gloria”: This song appears on Michael W. Smith’s 1989 album, Christmas. What I like best about this recording is the emotion and power that Michael W. Smith puts into his vocal performance.
Wham! – “Last Christmas”: This has become another classic Christmas song from the 1980s, and there’s just something about the combination of George Michael’s vocal delivery and the musical arrangement that grabs the listener.
The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”: I remember hearing this track on the radio when I was younger, but not having any idea who it was or what the title was. I was so thrilled a few years back when my husband and I bought a Christmas compilation CD that had this song on it. It’s a “story song,” and it tells the story of a woman who’s trying not to participate in the Christmas season. Earlier in the year, she met a man at a ski shop and got his phone number, but whenever the two of them would try to get together during the year, something would always get in the way. When she realizes she forgot to buy cranberries for her Christmas Eve dinner, she runs into the guy at the convenience store. So she has a Christmas miracle and has a happy ending. Not only do I like the fact that this song tells a story, I also like the fact that it’s a fun and upbeat song to listen to.