Mariah Carey, performing here in 2013, is the queen of Christmas hits, with her 1994 classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” still hits #1 during the holidays. (By The United States Army Band, Flickr (CC BY 2.0))
Mariah Carey, performing here in 2013, is the queen of Christmas hits, with her 1994 classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” still hits #1 during the holidays.

By The United States Army Band, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Best Holiday Songs of All Time

December 17, 2021

Thanksgiving: Delicious food, time with family, and of course, the last time you’ll be able to go a day without hearing Christmas music until January.

With December 25th rapidly approaching, the annual tradition (or is it a ritual?) of holiday music playing from every possible place is underway once again. Therefore, it’s only fitting that we take a look at some of the most iconic Christmas and holiday songs of all time, both classic and modern.

Andy Williams YouTube Channel

Andy Williams – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

One of the most iconic, beloved Christmas songs of all time, and for good reason. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” combines everything that makes a Christmas song extraordinary. It’s upbeat, cheer-spreading and has lyrics that highlight the best parts of the holiday season. Each time it comes on, listeners can’t help but be instantly filled with the Christmas spirit and excitement for the holidays.

The 1954 movie ‘White Christmas’ starred Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, pictured here as Betty Haynes, featured the classic holiday song. (Public Domain)

Bing Crosby – “White Christmas”

Regarded as perhaps the most famous Christmas song in existence, “White Christmas” is sheer holiday brilliance. It captures the magic of the holiday season in a way that few other songs can. The slow, calming melody inspires warmth and provokes feelings of family and community, and the lyrics are full of nothing but joy for the wonders of the holiday season. After all – who doesn’t love a white Christmas?

 

Perry Como / Carpenters – “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays”

Which side are you on? Classic Perry Como, or the Carpenters’ more immediately upbeat and jolly version? Either way, “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” is sure to please, inspiring memories of home and Christmases past and exciting listeners for the annual festivities of the holiday season. Always remember: “For the holidays, you can’t beat home sweet home!”

 

Dean Martin “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

Who doesn’t love snow? Aside from anyone with a commute, driveway, or dislike for cold weather, of course. Even so, this classic has been able to maintain its status as one of the icons of the holiday season, and for good reason. With its storytelling lyrics, inspiring a calm, warm and joyous atmosphere, almost every listener becomes inclined to exclaim “Let it snow!”

Frank Sinatra YouTube Channel

Frank Sinatra – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Slow and calming, but nonetheless festive, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” lets you look past the stresses of the holidays and take a moment to appreciate the emotion that comes from the season. It proves that a song doesn’t need to be fast, jolly and insistent; joy can come from the little things and, most importantly, spending time with the ones you love.

 

Leroy Anderson – “Sleigh Ride”

An undisputed annual tradition for orchestras and bands, it would be a crime to not mention the iconic “Sleigh Ride.” A wonderfully festive composition that fits along with not just the holidays, but the rest of Winter as well, “Sleigh Ride” is upbeat and demands that all listeners be filled with excitement and happiness. Whether you prefer it with lyrics or in classic instrumental format, the song is a staple in holiday music.

 

Mariah Carey – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

Picture it: November 1st, midnight. You’ve just finished listening to “Spooky Scary Skeletons” for the thousandth time in a week. Suddenly, an ominous disturbance echoes throughout the world – and it’s not one of evil. It’s Mariah Carey’s opening vocals in the song “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Google searches for the song immediately and exponentially rise: Whether you want it or not, the holiday season is here. At least, that’s how most people feel about this song and its never-ending use as a premature ringing in of Christmastime. But is this really a bad thing? Arguably, no. “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” upbeat and inspiring, is a perfect song to signal the incoming holiday season each and every year – so get used to it.

Nat King Cole YouTube Channel

Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song”

Featuring a lyrical laundry list of activities for the holiday season, “The Christmas Song” is well-deserving of its simplistic name. Few Christmas songs are as universally cherished as Nat King Cole’s, and it’s one of the most famous compositions affiliated with the holiday. “Offering a simple phrase,” the song is truly one of the best ways to say “Merry Christmas to you.”

 

Percy Faith / Johnny Mathis – “We Need a Little Christmas”

With two excellent versions of “We Need a Little Christmas,” it’s hard to say which is truly the better rendition. Whether you prefer Faith’s or Mathis’ version, though, isn’t relevant. Either way, “We Need a Little Christmas” is the ultimate song for the weeks building up to the 25th. Capturing all of the most iconic Christmas traditions into lyrical splendor, it’s sure to get any listener excited for the holiday season.

Wham YouTube Channel

Wham! – “Last Christmas”

A slightly more controversial choice – But it can’t be denied that “Last Christmas” has become synonymous with the holiday season. Admittedly, the combo-Christmas song/romance story isn’t for everyone, and those who dislike it won’t hesitate to share their thoughts with you. But that’s fine – because for everyone else, it triggers feelings of holiday spirit just as well as the other songs on this list, and “Last Christmas” does its best to give off feelings of festivity and jubilance.

Which holiday song is YOUR favorite?

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Honorable Mentions

It’s a simple fact – there are many, many excellent holiday songs, and there are too many to fit in a list. Here are some strong competitors that didn’t make the list:

  • Bing Crosby – “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas”
  • Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
  • Darlene Love  – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
  • Dean Martin – “Walking In A Winter Wonderland”
  • José Feliciano “Feliz Navidad”
  • Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime”
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Carol of the Bells”
  • Vince Guaraldi – Soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas

Did we forget to mention your favorite Christmas song? Leave a comment!

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  • G

    GmmDec 28, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    sensational article! wonderfully written and really well thought out!!

    Reply
  • C

    Christina SchwabDec 17, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Awesome article, but hey, I’m partial to the writer!

    Reply