I’m Jewish, if you couldn’t tell from my article last week about Hanukkah. I grew up in an interfaith household and I went to public school where most of the time I was the only Jew in the room. This caused me to experience most of the elements of Christmas, my favorite being the music. In no particular order, here are my top ten Christmas songs of all time.
- “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by The Jackson 5 (1970)
This song overall is a classic. The Jackson 5 brings lively energy to this song that just makes you want to be happy and joyful. Quite frankly, this is the most danceable song every Christmas season. Fun fact: Fred Coots, one of the co-writers of the original version, is Jewish.
Written by Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots
Produced by Hal Davis
Original Artist: Harry Reser (1934)
- “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey (1994)
Mariah’s whistle tones ring in the Christmas spirit every year since this song’s release and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wonder if this is Rudolph’s favorite Christmas song because it will be going down in history, too!
Written and produced by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff
- “Last Christmas” by Wham! (1985)
“Last Christmas” incites a reminiscent feeling. It reminds you that while the holidays are joyous for some, it can bring back difficult memories for others. The more melancholy story of the song helps us all encapsulate a more holistic understanding of the Christmas season given that everyone experiences it differently.
Written and produced by George Michael
- “Cool Yule” by Louis Armstong and the Commanders (1953)
Louis Armstrong is one of the greatest musicians of all time, adding his star power into the holidays brings an extra dimension to the ambiance. The overall jazzy quality of this song offers a new rhythm that breaks up a holiday playlist that could end up feeling monotonous.
Written By Steve Allen
- “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole (1961)
This song is truly one of the classics and is absolutely essential to any holiday song list. Who doesn’t need your chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose? This iconic song is another to add to our interfaith list as Mel Tormé, one of the writers of the song, is Jewish
Produced By Lee Gillette
Written By Robert Wells & Mel Tormé
- “Run, Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry (1959)
This one is just fun and gives you something upbeat to dance to. Putting this on your playlist to get your Christmas cutie to dance with you is a must. I suggest queuing up Mariah’s hit “All I Want for Christmas is You” right after to seal the deal. Also, the image of Santa driving his sleigh on the freeway is hilarious to me.
Produced By Phil Chess & Leonard Chess
Written By Marvin Brodie & Johnny Marks
- “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Thurl Ravencroft (1966)
The Grinch is an iconic character of the holiday season and you’ll probably have at least one at any Christmas get-together. This is the classic version that you know and love and can use to call out the Scrooge of the family.
Produced By Jesse Kaye
Written By Dr. Seuss & Albert Hague
- “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra (1948)
Every holiday season this song is for sure to play and for a very good reason at that. This is a timeless song, so no matter what version you listen to, the warm and fuzzy feeling remains. Frank Sinatra’s crooning is my personal favorite and I can’t wait to listen again this season.
Written By Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine
Original By Judy Garland (Meet Me in St Louis)
- “Linus And Lucy” by Vince Guarladi Trio (1964)
Just classic Peanuts. Growing up, I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas every year so the fact that this is the first year that the Peanuts tales aren’t being shown on general TV is painful. Being able to listen to this nostalgic song on its own is a slight consolation.
Composed By Vince Guarladi
- “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt (1953)
I saw something the other day about this song being used as justification that Santa might be a sugar daddy. Quite an interesting proposition. The overall premise leaves so much room for interpretation, it’s amusing. This quirky tune was written by three Jewish writers, Tony Springer, Philip Springer, and Joan Javits.
Written By Tony Springer, Philip Springer & Joan Javits
- Honorable Mention: “What are You Doing New Years Eve?” by Ella Fitzgerald (1960)
While this song is not necessarily about Christmas, the soothing mood is perfect for the limbo in between Winter holidays. Take a listen to help you get through the post-Christmas and Hanukkah slump and rest up for New Years.
Written By Frank Loesser
As a Jewish person often consuming Christmas music, I’ve noticed that Hanukkah songs are not nearly as well known. In the spirit of Holiday season, here are my Hanukkah song suggestions to add to your holiday playlists.
“The Chanukah Song” By Adam Sandler (1996)
“Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” By The Barenaked Ladies (2014)
“Hanukkah in ‘96” By Alex Frankel (2019)
“Goyim Friends” By The LeeVees (2005)
“Sevivon Sov, Sov, Sov” By Kenny Ellis (2005)