Not everyone celebrates Christmas, or enjoys it if they do. But for those who love it, all Christmas music seems to be inherently nostalgic – we forget about it for 11 months, and then around mid-November every year, we are suddenly reminded that we inexplicably know all the lyrics to ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, and dozens of other songs. While we all know art is subjective, and most people have their own strong opinions about Christmas music, I’ve compiled a list of my favourites for anyone who might want to hear it. And so here, in no particular order, are what I have narrowed down to my all-time favourite Christmas songs:
‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’, The Ronnettes (1963)
This is my favourite cover of Tommie Connor’s 1952 bop, as it begins with a theatrical smooch, before launching into the doo-wop and pop elements inherent to any song by The Ronnettes. The sweet and satirical storyline of the song is also a plus, with the line ‘what a laugh it would have been/ if Daddy had only seen/ Mommy kissin’ Santa Claus last night’ being a favourite of mine.
‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, Frank Sinatra (1957)
It seems to be an unspoken truth that this is one of the saddest Christmas songs out there, with Frank’s (yes, we are on a first-name basis) 1957 cover a slower and melancholier version of Bing Crosby’s wartime classic. The soul shattering emphasis on ‘if only in my dreams’ has embedded this song in my heart, and the fact that the flip side of Bing’s original recording was ‘Danny Boy’ doesn’t help stop the tears from a-flowing.
‘Santa Baby’, Eartha Kitt (1953)
The indisputably sexiest Christmas song on this list, Eartha Kitt’s smooth voice combined with the amusing lyrics makes this one of my favourites. I love this song dearly, and it remains relatable 70 years later – I, too, would not mind receiving a light blue 54’ convertible and several checks for Christmas. It’s also worth mentioning the hilariously hetrifying (a term coined by Florence Given) Michael Buble cover (2011), in which he refers to Santa as ‘buddy’, ‘dude’, and ‘pally’, wants his convertible in ‘steel’ blue rather than light blue, and smoothly avoids the marriage proposal at the end of the original song. It’s ok Michael, we know you aren’t trying to seduce Santa. We know. You can rest now.
‘It Feels Like Christmas’, The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)
I’ve limited myself to only one Muppets’ song, and while it was painful to choose this over Kermit’s perfect ‘One More Sleep til’ Christmas’, and the lesser known ‘Christmas Scat’ by Kermit and Tiny Tim/Robin, this song manages to encapsulate everything I love about Christmas. The beautiful cheesiness and booming laughter of the Ghost of Christmas Past make this song a favourite, and underlines that ‘in all the places you find love/It feels like Christmas’.
‘Fairytale of New York’, The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl (1987)
This is the song everyone will tell you is their favourite, and for good reason. This Irish folk-style ballad is the most-played Christmas song of the 21st century in the UK, and the sweary lyrics and fairly dark, tumultuous love-story make this song stand out among others, both for the Christmas-obsessed and the begrudgingly festive alike.
‘Stop the Calvary’, Jona Lewie (1980)
Another Christmas song based on the theme of coming home from war, but with a wildly different tone to ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’. Originally a protest song written during the Cold War, ‘Stop the Calvary’ is now seen as a festive classic, and another alternative to the traditional (not always unwelcome) cheesiness of Christmas music. Also, everyone knows when to join in with the “dub a dub a dumb dumbs”.
‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, Slade (1973) and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas’, Wizzard (1973)
For the first ten years of my life, I thought that these two songs were, in fact, the same song. I’m not sure where this confusion stems from but, even now, whenever I sing either of these songs, it’s a game of roulette for which chorus I will go into: ‘So here it is Merry Xmas/ Everybody’s having fun…’ or ‘Oh well I wish it could be Christmas everyday…’. Either way, both songs are staples of my childhood Christmases, and so both deserve a spot on this list.
‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’, Chris de Burgh (1975)
The last song on this list is a fairly recent addition to the Christmas jukebox in my mind, and I rarely hear it on the radio at this time of year. It re-imagines a science fiction nativity story, with the star of Bethlehem as a space craft, and the angel Gabriel as an alien – don’t be put off by this description though, as this song manages to be one of the most magical and beautifully haunting Christmas songs of all time (and definitely not as terrifying as ‘Carol of the Bells).
Merry Christmas everyone, HC xoxo
This article is part of our Festive themed week 2019. Happy holidays from Her Campus Bristol!