20 Top Christmas Songs of All Time
Usher in the holiday season at a vinyl store with songs that bring you joy. Everyone has their own personal favorites with a few added in each year by artists who reimagine traditional hits as well as debut their own unique songs. There's a song perfectly fit for every occasion and feeling that this time of year brings. As you begin to curate the playlist you'll have on repeat from now to the end of the year, here are the top 20 Christmas songs we think are worth the listen.
All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
By the end of the holiday season, it's likely you'll hear your fair share of Mariah Carey's hit, "All I Want for Christmas Is You." As a regular on the holiday list over the years with a cultural, cult-like following, this classic song is similar to the effect of a crowd-pleasing show tune that takes you into intermission and is reprised as the closing number. From the soft, a capella beginning crescendoing into the full on musical accompaniment, it's filled with extra flair and will continue to be in heavy rotation on playlists for years to come.
Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins
The tinkling piano through Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home" evokes all the warm and fuzzy feelings of being family and friends during the holiday season. Though it's reference right in the first line is the only indication that it's meant to be a seasonal song, this mellow tune is typically played throughout the end of the year. It's a holiday song that tugs at the heartstrings and makes you look forward to spending quality time with the ones you love.
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is one of the top Christmas songs of all time, favored for its upbeat tempo and playful sound. It's maybe best known for its use in the scene of the holiday go-to, Home Alone. Kevin McAllister creates an elaborate setup to make it look like his family is hosting a lively holiday party rather than revealing the truth that he's been left all by himself. Regardless of what kind of memories the song conjures up, it's hard not to sing along as this holiday classic plays.
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is the quintessential holiday music and is one of the best holiday records ever to be released. The deep, slow croon of Crosby’s voice has a timeless appeal and pulls people into the imagery of a vintage Christmas postcard come to life, complete with a horse-drawn sleigh and kids building a snowman in the yard. Put it on your record player and be transported back in time.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
The pure, sweet voice of Judy Garland is the perfect match for the equally lovely sentiment of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The lyrics talk about being surrounded by those we love as long as it's fated to be and letting our daily troubles "be out of sight" during the holidays. It’s a much-needed, gentle reminder to lighten our loads and be happy within our surroundings come December 25th and into the new year.
Where Are You Christmas? by Faith Hill
Country artist Faith Hill brings to life a beautiful ballad that was co-written by Mariah Carey and was featured in the live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2000. Hill brings her rich tone to a Christmas classic about remembering the magic of the season felt as a child that may have diminished throughout the years as an adult. As one of the best Christmas songs year after year, "Where Are You Christmas?" remains a contemporary staple that you'll want to add to the rotation.
The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
"The Christmas Song" is often mistakenly referred to as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" as that's the opening line to this traditional hit by 60's singer Nat King Cole. Much like "White Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," there's a timelessness to the song that evokes a feeling of nostalgia no matter when you first heard it. It’s no wonder it’s considered one of the top Christmas songs of all time. The mellow pace and soft delivery of the music serve as a comforting message that feels personally delivered from one of the greats to everyone who's listening.
This Christmas by Donny Hathaway
The soulful sound of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" can be considered the greatest Christmas song of the '70s that has withstood the test of time and has continued to be a favorite over the years. Although it's been covered by numerous musical artists since its debut, you can't be an original, especially when it has keyboards, electric guitar, and drums, as well as baritone sax and trombones to jazz up the festive song after its gentle beginning.
Last Christmas by WHAM!
The New Wave sound of the '80s delivered a special compilation of hits. It combined punk and rock with electronic music, driven by synthesizers and other quirky instrumentals. As one-half of WHAM!, George Michael leads the vocals for "Last Christmas," which embodies the sound of this era and makes people smile remembering the flamboyant cultural touchstones of the time, including neon colors, crazy hairdos, and what we now ironically refer to as "ugly Christmas sweaters."
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" gives the listener a live Christmas music appeal, since his rock version was recorded live with the E Street Band in New York in the mid-1970s. Fans of The Boss appreciate his unique interpretation of the holiday tune with his signature sound and spoken word intro that invites those who are listening to get a feel for how he might have performed this live.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble
When making a list of top Christmas songs of all time, you can’t leave out Michael Buble. Even when he's not singing festive tunes, Buble's sound is a reminder of the Christmas season. Echoing the big band type of vocals similar to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, Buble's voice is like a hot toddy on a wintry night. It truly warms the soul. He's known for his cover of many holiday standards, but "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," is one of the top holiday songs to put on the record player when the first snow falls or when you start decorating for the season.
O Holy Night by Pentatonix
Every version of this holiday classic is beautiful, but Pentatonix brings a distinctive approach to singing it a capella that makes "O Holy Night" sound almost haunting thanks to the harmonious blend of their powerhouse vocals. The melodic sound is hypnotizing and there's no denying the chills you feel once they reach the chorus. This version may not be the only one that makes it to your list of top 20 Christmas carols to play this year, but it should definitely be included.
Little St. Nick by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys stay true to their signature sound with their best-known Christmas song "Little St. Nick." Its catchy, sunny tempo elicits the idea of spending the holiday somewhere with palm trees rather than enjoying a snow-filled Christmas, but still conjures up the holiday spirit all the same. As native Californians, it only made sense for them to share what the festive season looked like to them growing up with surf and sand in place of a winter wonderland.
Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder's original hit "Someday at Christmas" presents a whimsical sound filled with Christmas cheer and hope for peace during the holiday season. Rich with the well-known Motown sound mixed with social lyrics to match the times of the late '60s, this mainstream melody has a soulful tone rich with meaning that should be added to the Christmas playlist. It's been covered by several singers since then and Wonder performed it most recently in 2015 with recording artist Andra Day.
Christmas Time Is Here by Vince Guaraldi Trio
The tradition of viewing A Charlie Brown Christmas wouldn't be complete with the accompanying soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Though largely instrumental, "Christmas Time Is Here" has vocals straight from the cartoon voices of the much beloved Peanuts characters. It's instantly recognizable as one of the top holiday songs and sets the tone of the season as soon as it starts playing. It speaks to all ages as a favorite come holiday time as families pass down the music from generation to generation.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Lady A
There are many musical artists that have sung this Christmas classic over the years, but Lady A stands out as a favorite with their blend of voices harmonizing beautifully. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is the fourth track off their record, On This Winter's Night, which also features other seasonal hits like “This Christmas, “The First Noel,” and “Silver Bells.” The renditions of this popular Christmas song may change, but this Christmas tune still remains one of the best Christmas songs, no matter who is singing it.
Santa Baby by Madonna
Though the slow, sultry sound of Eartha Kitt is what made “Santa Baby” popular, Madonna gives it her own spin, making her version a favorite of many as well. The song appears on A Very Special Christmas, considered to be one of the best Christmas albums on vinyl, this collection features various artists performing their own renditions of holiday tunes. The album was first issued in 1987 on behalf of the Special Olympics and the vinyl version was reissued 29 years later to the delight of fans. Other songs include “Merry Christmas Baby” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, “Christmas in Hollis” by Run D.M.C., and “Silent Night” by Stevie Nicks.
Joy to the World by Natalie Cole
Angelic and powerful at the same time, Natalie Cole’s voice is as iconic as her father’s. In 2019, she released the 25th anniversary of her best-selling holiday album, Holly & IVy, which features 12 holiday songs. One of the clear standouts on the record is her version of “Joy to the World,” though she puts her own special touch on other classics including “The First Noel,” “Silent Night,” and “The Christmas Song.”
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley is arguably one of the best musical artists of our time, so it’s only fitting that his hit “Blue Christmas” lives on today as one of the top Christmas songs of all time. The Elvis Christmas album debuted in 1957 and topped the pop charts for a month, earning Presley his first Diamond Award Winning RIAA certified recording. Twelve tracks make up the white-colored album including his equally beloved versions of “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Silent Night.” Although it’s hearing “Blue Christmas” that makes you know the holidays are here.
Ave Maria by Josh Groban
Though not reserved solely for the holidays, you can’t hear Josh Groban’s “Ave Maria” and not feel the spirit of the season. The double vinyl LP pressing of his 2007 album, Noel, features traditional and contemporary songs with special guests Faith Hill, Brian McKnight, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are favorite tracks on this album. However, there’s a magical element that applies when listening to “Ave Maria” with Christmas lights twinkling in the background.
There's no shortage of top holiday songs to get you in a festive mood. Musical artists reinvent traditional songs year after year, putting their own spin on timeless lyrics and notorious sounds. This creates a rich experience for everyone to enjoy the genre they like best. You can go back in time to old holiday favorites or explore the selection of modern versions released today.
Get in the Christmas spirit with seasonal music as we wind down the year. Whether it's jazz, country, pop, soul, or rock, there's a blend of sounds and songs to make up a holiday playlist you'll want to keep playing. Plus, any of the albums mentioned also make great gifts for record lovers!