Welcome to the time of year where every public space suddenly transforms into a celebration of the holiday spirit. For some, this might be the best month of all—when radio stations, hotel lobbies, department stores, elevators dentist offices, veterinary clinics, police precincts, movie theaters etc. For others, it's a hell of manufactured cheer and commoditized holiday emotion. But, we can't escape any of it. So we might as well embrace it.
Hell, what would our lives be like without the same holiday songs played over and over and over again? Here, we run down the best Christmas songs of all time:. You can listen to the full playlist on Spotify. In , the modern art-rock star and the old-school silky-voiced crooner joined forces in one of the most unexpectedly successful duets of all time. This famed medley of "Little Drummer Boy" and "Peace on Earth" is not only one of Bowie's most commercially successful songs in his storied career, but it marked one of the last vocal recordings Crosby ever made—having been recorded a month before his death.
Ah yes, classic cheesy Christmas schmaltz from The Carpenters. It must be December. Christmas sucks for the brokenhearted. We've all been there. This Killers song is for the true lovers of alternative Christmas tracks. Also, the thought Santa as a low-key criminal is pretty funny and the plot of Bad Santa.
Though it wasn't specifically intended to be one, "My Favorite Things," has become a Christmas song. This is about as political as a Christmas song gets. And if you want an updated—though pointedly less political version—there's Celine Dion's cover. What it lacks in politics it makes up with percent more Celine. As a bit of a showender for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas , the soundtrack version is a solo performance from Parton. Her version was co-opted into the melancholy Christmas single-anthem that is pro-getting drunk on apple wine.
Louis that stands above the rest. Fun fact: Barenaked Ladies came out with a Christmas album. More fun fact: the best song on it is the irresistible harmony between the band and McLachlan, whose angelic voice lends itself perfectly to anything to do with Christmas.
While her album Wrapped in Red is a testament that Clarkson should throw her hat in the ring for all Christmas music, this one is just especially fun. Especially this cut, which hones in on the nuanced pain that the annual event can cause. When the kid tugs that fake facial hair right off, his life is changed forever. The ultimate Christmas song and a masterclass in stately, elegant singing. Few do it as well as the First Lady of Jazz. Nelson recorded his own version for his holiday LP.
A spacious ballad, it tells the story of a street vendor hustling to sell pencils and, yes, pretty paper during the holiday season.
This Steve Allen-penned Christmas track has gotten a lot of play over the years, bur Satchmo's inaugural version still stands above the rest. The cheeky Britpoppers' class-conscious Christmas rave-up cloaks its serious message about the haves and the have-nots in a letter to Santa. The arena rocker's sweet ode to the Yuletide spirit imprinted itself on a generation when it doubled as the de facto Christmas card from the then-fledgeling MTV to its viewers.
The greatest pop singer of the '80s turns his holiday heartache into snowy synthpop. Mimi's entry into the Christmas canon is filled with flirtatious coos, beltable verses, and girl-group harmonies.
Pop's preeminent bad girl Ronnie Spector shows off her winter-wonderland spirit. One of the most buoyant takes on this ode to Father Christmas features Bruce Springsteen playfully needling his bandmates about their behavior over the past year and a joyous sax solo by Clarence Clemons. Queens' punk-rock royalty offers up a speedy plea for Christmas peace on the domestic front. A divisive track, to be sure, but you're probably bluffing if you don't crack a smile when singing along with Alvin's wishes for a "hooooo-laaaaa-hoooooop.
Flipping "Jingle Bells" into a story of the holiday season in Queens, this track isn't just one of the greatest Christmas raps—it's one of the best 20th-century holiday songs. A fiery take on Charles Brown's brokenhearted love song from the much-missed soul revivalist. Young Michael Jackson turns in one of his most joyous early performances, which is saying a lot given the ebullience quotient of his other Jackson 5 offerings.
Picking one track off these soul titans' Christmas album is harder than choosing between rum and bourbon for your eggnog, so let's just go with its opener. The delightful collaboration between the "Rocky Mountain High" singer and Jim Henson's band of misfit puppets is full of highlights, but the album's calypso-flavored version of this Yuletide nursery rhyme features a particularly giggle-worthy star turn from Miss Piggy.
An upbeat trifle about having fun around the holidays that showcases the former Beatle's silly side. The grain of the Reverend Al's voice and the slickness of the Eurythmics singer's belt on this Jackie DeShannon cover make for a glorious combination. Chance meetings with cute guys in the supermarket are the stuff Yuletide fairytales are made of—especially when they're set to bubbly, sax-powered New Wave. The special Christmas Eve on Sesame Street represents the educational show at its finest, and this original track about holding on to the Christmas spirit year-round still tugs at the heartstrings.
Elton's outsized personality and his signature holiday track's rollicking feel make for a joyous occasion. Stevie Wonder's plea for Yuletide peace which he recently covered with Andra Day has extra relevance in troubled times.
Goofy Christmas tracks are in no short supply, but this perky rundown of the holiday's more hellish aspects has a relatable moment for everyone, from crying kids to hangover shakes. Seasonally appropriate melancholia from A Charlie Brown Christmas , which is still the greatest animated salute to the spirit of the season.
United States. Presented by. Type keyword s to search. Here, we run down the best Christmas songs of all time: You can listen to the full playlist on Spotify.
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