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Ranking the Classic Christmas Songs

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Only now that I’ve been forced to choose my top ten Christmas songs, it has become clear to me just how many great ones there are. Although the newer entries such as Mistletoe by Justin Bieber and Santa Tell me by Ariana Grande make great new additions to the canon, the enduring charm of the classics is undeniable. 

10. Rockin Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

I was shocked to find out that Lee recorded the song when she was only 13 years old. This song was also featured in one of the best Christmas films of all time, “Home Alone”, which on its own earns it a place on this list. 

9. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – The Jackson 5 

This cover of The Crystals original song Santa Claus Is Coming to Town was included in the Jackson 5 Christmas Album which has been hailed by many as one of the best holiday albums of all time. No one can capture the excitement and cheerfulness of Christmas morning quite like an 11 year old.

8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra

This classic Christmas song was originally written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine for Judy Garland’s 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis in Hollywood’s Golden Era. Since then this song has been covered by many, most notably Frank Sinatra whose version adds the signature Sinatra charm.

7. Let it snow let it snow let it snow – Frank Sinatra 

Despite the lyrics of this song making no mention of Christmas or the holiday season, the winter theme earns it a place on this list of classic Christmas songs. Ironically this song was written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne on America’s hottest day of 1945. This song has many versions but it was Dean Martin’s version which became a festive classic, however I personally prefer Frank Sinatra’s (again!) 1957 version which features a whole chorus and the sounds of a full orchestra. Sinatra even asked Martin to tweak the final lines of the song to give the lyrics more festive joy. 

6. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole 

Sometimes known as Chesnuts Roasting on an Open Fire or Merry Christmas to You, this song has been spreading festive spirit since it was written in 1945 with its jazzy and soothing melody. Although this song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, Nat King Cole’s versions remain the most popular – and rightfully so. According to the BMI this is the most performed Christmas song of all time. 

5. It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Andy Williams

This energetic song backed with ‘ding-dongs’, jingle bells and Christmas carollers features lyrics about toasting marshmallows, hosting parties and ‘misletoeing’, all celebrating the festive activities associated with Christmas. This song is even featured in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) 

4. Last Christmas – Wham 

It’s the juxtaposition between the songs festive mood backed with chiming bells, and the melancholy lyrics about heartbreak which makes this Christmas staple so original. The rare quality of producing Christmas spirit through lyrics filled with loss and regret gives this song its legendary status.

3.. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono 

Originally written as protest song against the Vietnam War by the infamous couple John Lennon and Yoko Ono after two years of peace activism, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) has transcended its initial purpose and become another Christmas classic.

2. Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade 

Slade’s last, and best-selling single Merry Xmas Everybody is undoubtedly a classic British Christmas song which was actually recorded in the middle of summer. It is impossible to not feel the Christmas spirit when Noddy Holder screams “It’s CHRISTMAS!!!” towards the end of the song. 

  1. All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey

You know the Christmas season is here when you start hearing this song everywhere you go: in shopping centres, cafes and even clubs. I was lucky enough to experience just one of the many renditions of this song: a mashup with Radiohead’s Creep, at my last ‘Thekla Thursday’, and I can positively say it was a life changing experience. This popular festive banger has charted every holiday season since its initial release, rightfully naming Carey the “Queen of Christmas”. 

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Sohni Malde

Bristol '25

Hi! I am a first year at the University of Bristol studying Liberal Arts and majoring in Philosophy.
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