15 Modern Holiday Playlist Must-Adds

There’s nothing I love more than celebrating holidays with music. This year, I finally decided to make my own holiday playlist and felt underwhelmed by some of the classics. 

So, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite modern holiday songs, across a few genres. No need to settle for your department store rendition of “Jingle Bells” or “Walking In A Winter Wonderland!” Your ultimate December playlist is close at hand!

  1. The Grinch has been one of my favorite Christmas movies for as long as I can remember. This version of the song was contributed by Tyler, The Creator for the soundtrack of the 2018 remake of the film, and it offers a funky rap/R&B take on a holiday classic. No subject makes for a better nitty-gritty rap number than the very Grinch who stole Christmas!

  2. Ah, the nostalgia! Anyone who takes comfort in reminiscing about childhood holiday traditions will love this song, especially during the stressful times of December. Taylor Swift’s uplifting Christmas pop hit will raise your spirits  and make you believe in the magic of the season the instant you hear it! It’s the perfect song to listen to while you bake holiday cookies in your childhood kitchen.

  3. The title speaks for itself – if there’s anything that can brighten 2020, it’s the holiday season. Country duo Maddie & Tae hit the nail on the head with this sweet closing track from their first Christmas EP of the same name. The lyric, “This world could use a little healing, our hearts could surely use something to believe in,” is something we can all relate to, especially now. 

  4. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but smile any time I hear the Jonas Brothers’ music. In a time when we can’t holiday shop, get together with family for huge dinners, or bounce between friends’ celebrations (I long for when I got tired of saying “happy holidays!”), it’s nice to know our favorite artists feel the same.

  5. 5. Holy by Justin Bieber (feat. Chance the Rapper) (2020)

    Although it first came out in September, “Holy” was recently added to Bieber’s 2020 EP “Home for Christmas.” This upbeat, heartfelt song will make us all feel like hopeless romantics this holiday season. The song is intimate due to its religious undertone, but it’s still a bop we can enjoy year-round. Chance The Rapper’s rapped verse rounds it out perfectly.

  6. The holidays can strain relationships, but we can all get behind Alessia Cara’s relatable song about not wanting to be alone on Christmas. Cara pleads with her partner to stay together through the holiday season. Despite the heavy subject, the song has a poppy sound accompanied by bells and a fun holiday melody.

  7. Dan & Shay’s country-pop hit is also about spending the holidays with someone you love. “Taking someone home for Christmas” is usually a sign that things are getting serious, and going home for the holidays together is also a fantastic way to get to know someone. The duo’s song is a great reminder to spend the holidays with people we love.

  8. This song deserves a place on this ranking just for its stunning music video. The vocal talent between country powerhouse Carrie Underwood and Penn alum John Legend is also unmatched. If there’s anything that can bring “peace on earth” and “the spirit of love” to us right now, it’s this beautiful song. We’re listening to a modern holiday classic — I’m calling it now!

  9. 9. Jingle Bell Drunk by RaeLynn (2020)

    This country Christmas song is a hilarious addition to any holiday playlist. Your family will be thoroughly entertained by this creative song and its tipsy twist on “Jingle Bells.” The song has are relatable lyrics for anyone whose family has a little too much *fun* on the holidays. Don’t follow the lyrics at home, especially if you’re under 21 – but it’s a great listen! 

  10. Ever been stuck away from home on the holidays? Snowed-in flights and blizzards too dangerous to drive through can ruin the season, unless, of course, you make the best of it. Tenpenny’s cheerful and optimistic take on spending Christmas dancing around a dive bar is something we can all understand, considering this year’s unconventional celebrations! 

  11. In case "Señorita" and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” didn’t already convince you that Mendes and Cabello’s duets are amazing, this rendition of the ultimate Christmas classic definitely will. With their stellar vocals and real-life chemistry, as well as the subtle piano and string instrumentals, this song is a wonderful addition to any playlist.

  12. The collaboration in this song – I mean, come on, what more could you ask for? Get ready to rock around the Christmas tree to this fun and upbeat song. These women make you want to get up, dance, and believe in Santa Claus again.

  13. 13.   Seasons of Love by Pentatonix (2020) 

    I didn’t think I could adore this classic track from the musical Rent any more than I already did, but the Pentatonix cover of this song, from their album We Need A Little Christmas, proved me wrong! The cover has killer vocals and lyrics that everyone can sing along to!

  14. 14. All I Want (For Christmas) by Liam Payne (2019)

    Harry Styles isn’t the only crazy talented One Direction alum: Liam Payne pulls at heartstrings with this sincere Christmas ballad. Accompanied by gorgeous piano chords, Payne begs his partner to fix things with him for Christmas. We’re all just wishing for things to get better this holiday.

  15. 15. ‘tis the damn season by Taylor Swift (2020)

    Yes, Taylor Swift got two mentions, but I couldn’t write this without an evermore shoutout, since it’s the perfect 2020 winter album. Swift wins in the relatability category with this song about coming home for the holidays and falling for your hometown crush. If there’s anything we’ve been reminded of by quarantine, it’s “the road not taken.”

I hope these songs add a little sugar and spice to your holiday playlist this season! I know they’ve brought me some winter joy, even in 2020. I’ll be making myself hot cocoa and dancing to these tunes right alongside you. Happy holidays!