This list is my personal top ten ranking of Christmas songs. Apologies to those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, but there are a couple of generic holiday songs on here too. I made an attempt to put songs that are classics and musts for the Christmas season and some songs you may never have heard, but I invite you to give them a chance, because I think they are all great.
- “Christmas” – Michael Buble’s Christmas Album
I tried to pick a song from this album to start out the list, but there are too many good ones to pick from. This song, a Christmas album, was the second highest selling album of 2011. That means that, in the two months of the year Christmas songs are listened to and bought (the album was released at the end of October), it sold more than any other album except for the unbeatable 21 by Adele. People bought this album for one reason: it is fantastic. Michael Buble’s voice has become a Christmas staple, and his soothing timbre and interesting takes on classic Christmas songs make this a must for the Christmas season.
- “Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo”, “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Number nine belongs to Trans-Siberian Orchestra as a group, but I wanted to highlight these two songs, medleys of classic Christmas songs – the first of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol of the Bells,” and the second of the soundtrack of “The Nutcracker.” The Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings so much energy and such a great rock vibe to classic Christmas songs, and their songs always serve as pump-up music to important events, be they exams or athletic competitions.
- “This Christmas” – Chris Brown
This song, recorded for the movie of the same name, is a modern song that has, at least for me, earned its standing with the rest of this list comprised of songs by Christmas all-stars like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. The lyrics are great, the singing is superb and impressive, and the song really makes me think of my family and friends during Christmas and the break.
- “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole
You may know this song by its opening line: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”. I know it for the warm feeling it brings me on the cold mornings of December and January, when walking across campus. On days like those, Jack Frost really is nipping at my nose, and Nat King Cole’s voice makes me wish Christmas could come earlier.
- “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” – Frank Sinatra
For all of us who miss the snow, thought last winter was amazing, and want a comparable winter this year, this is a reassuring tune. In spite of the lack of snow thus far this year, I listen to this song to cheer me up for the rest of this winter, when snow will blanket New England (and give us snow days!). This song is fantastic, not just because of Sinatra’s iconic voice.
- “White Christmas” – Bing Crosby
This song IS Christmas to many of us, with the dulcet voice of Bing Crosby ringing out our collective desire for snow on Christmas. Released in 1942, this song still holds the record for highest-selling single ever recorded in any genre, with 50 million copies sold. If you live in a cave and haven’t heard this song, give it a try; it will be worth the time!
- “The 12 Days of Christmas” – Straight No Chaser
This song is so fun. This song, a medley of all your favorite Christmas classics, some of which are kind of boring on their own, is so well executed. Straight No Chaser give their full energy the entire song, and perform perfectly and with much hilarity the entire time. Who doesn’t love to sing that high note during Toto’s “Africa” or join in on the many songs Straight No Chaser managed to combine in this medley?
- “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” – NSYNC
You may have heard this song, but if you haven’t, listen to it. Young JT and co. give us a pop classic that is an integral part of my yearly Christmas experience. Much like “The Christmas Song,” this song paints a picture of an ideal Christmas, with children going to sleep on Christmas Eve ready to wake up to family and presents on Christmas morning. Plus, the harmonies are on point, and everyone, even the randos who aren’t JT, give great performances.
- “Go Tell It On the Mountain” – Pentatonix
I know that you haven’t heard this song, at least unless I showed it to you. Please go listen to it; you won’t be disappointed. It has one of the most epic bass (singer) parts of all time. The Pentatonix are fantastic at what they do, and they show off all their singers in this underappreciated song.
- “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey
Is this even a question? Answer: Nope. If you need convincing, get into your car and play this song full blast, and then you’ll understand. You can’t resist trying for the epic high note. Mariah Carey is such a talented singer, and this song has been described as “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon” by The New Yorker.