The Most Underrated Christmas Songs

“Jingle Bells,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” It seems as if every year the exact same collection of overdone Christmas tunes crowds the airwaves, making it no surprise that certain people claim to hate Christmas music and refuse listening to it at all. However, it is my belief that the most popular Christmas songs aren’t really the ones deserving of our attention, and a deeper dive into the season’s underrated and overlooked offerings has the power to convert even the staunchest grinch into a holiday music enthusiast.

Here, I present five songs that deserve more love this December.

 

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Mariah Carey

Let’s be honest. Mariah Carey’s best-known Christmas song, “All I Want for Christmas is You,” has been overplayed to death for years, and if you aren’t sick of it by now, you’re lying to yourself. By comparison, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” has been woefully ignored, and I, for one, can’t fathom the reason why. As always, Mariah’s vocals are stellar, and the song features the same festive beat and romantic subject matter as its worn-out counterpart— except a thousand times improved and fresh on the ears. Radio stations: please start giving this song the attention it deserves!

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“Believe” by Josh Groban

This song comes from The Polar Express, everyone’s favorite childhood Christmas book and movie. In fact, TPE was the first movie I ever saw in theaters, and yet somehow, I tend to forget about this song every year until I take a look at my Christmas playlist. As we all know, Josh Groban has a voice made from pure velvet which is reason enough to give this song a listen. Beyond that, however, the lyrics are hopeful and heartfelt— just the sort of thing that one needs to hear before embarking on a new year.

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“The Prayer” by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli

Okay, hear me out. This song may not make any explicit mention of Christmas or wintery things, and it may not be about Christmas at all, but it’s on Celine Dion’s holiday album, therefore making it a Christmas song worthy of this list. Put simply, this song is just beautiful. Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli are both vocal powerhouses, and the harmonies they sing toward the end of the song give me chills every time I listen to it. Plus, its lack of holiday-related subject matter provides a much-needed break for those who tire of repetitive lyrics about Santa and presents.

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“Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte

Some people love this song. Some people hate this song and have stopped reading this article. I am (obviously) of the former camp. For as long as I can remember, this song has been a rare gem on Christmas radio. Whenever “Dominick the Donkey” came on, you stopped whatever you were doing and listened because it was a once-in-a-December phenomenon. Is it stupid? Yes. Does it bring me joy? Also yes. It’s literally impossible not to smile while listening to a song about a donkey bringing presents to Italian children. Why resist?

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“Music Box Blues” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

If you’ve spent any amount of time listening to Christmas radio, you’ve undoubtedly heard “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “Wizards in Winter” and “Christmas Canon,” the most popular selections from Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s vast catalogue of holiday music. As someone who grew up in a TSO-obsessed family, I could have made an entire list just composed of what I believe to be the band’s most underrated songs. However, I decided to limit myself to just one, that being my favorite TSO song and my favorite Christmas song of all time, “Music Box Blues.” This. Song. Is. Incredible. If you don’t know it, I highly encourage you to give it a listen. Featuring Darryl Pettiford and a group of talented background vocalists, a nostalgic yet hopeful storyline and TSO’s distinctive rock instrumentation with a touch of (you guessed it) the blues, “Music Box Blues” is soulful and gorgeous. I have to belt out the lyrics every time it comes on, and in the almost-20 years that I’ve known this song, never once has it gotten old.

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I hope I’ve inspired you to break out the Christmas tunes even the tiniest bit early this year. Happy holidays and happy listening!