Music Monday: 12 Best-Covered Christmas Classics

We hear them every year.  The timeless Christmas songs we know by heart are inescapable until Dec. 26.  Certain songs have been around for decades and have garnered more coverage than “Call Me Maybe” in its prime.  To kick off the holiday spirit, we’re making a list of the best cover versions of the classics, and you should check it twice to ensure you will have the jolliest of Christmases.

1.  “White Christmas” by Katy Perry.

Sure, America’s teenage dream can roar with the best of the pop stars, but she shines just as bright when the production is stripped down.  Perry’s acoustic cover of Bing Crosby’s 1942 snow anthem is live and unedited with a powerful yet subdued vocal performance.  It’ll have you adding a Katy Perry Christmas album to your wish list.

2. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Michael Bublé.

Since Mariah Carey released the track in 1994, it has quickly become one of the standards.  Of its many cover versions, Bublé’s stands above the rest.  While Carey’s original crescendos into a pulsating Christmas banger, Bublé made the song his own with an emotional approach.

3. “Frosty the Snowman” by Fiona Apple.

Fiona Apple is best known as the brooding, ethereal musician who writes honestly and hauntingly.  Apple takes the path never traveled and goes for a playful vibe on her cover of the song about everyone’s favorite snowman.  For a song that generally produces a fair amount of cheese, Apple balances “Frosty” for any audience.

 4. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Rogue Wave.

Who can forget Lohan and co.’s provocative rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” in Mean Girls?  Indie rock band Rogue Wave has crafted the complete opposite (obviously), opting for a dreamy, mellow spin.  The track is perfect for a Christmas in the sand rather than a Christmas in the snow.

5. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by She & Him.

The song was originally performed by Judy Garland in 1944.  Nearly 70 years later, it is still one of the most popular songs of the holiday.  She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) released one of the best covers in recent memory.  Deschanel’s dramatic vocal delivery leaves the listener hanging onto every word.

6. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Jack Johnson.

“Rudolph” isn’t just a jam for the little ones anymore.  Johnson matures the song with his trademark surf-folk sound.  Just imagine Rudolph trotting around the beaches of Hawaii as Jack Johnson plays an acoustic guitar.  It’s a weird visual, but a cover sure to be a new classic.

7. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by Colbie Caillat.

Once again bringing a little island flair to Christmas, Caillat sings about Santa’s imminent arrival like it’s a beach party.  Caillat released her seaside-yuletide album Christmas in the Sand last year.  “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” is only one of the infectious standouts.

8. “Last Christmas” by Jimmy Eat World.

What’s Christmas without Wham!’s 1984 classic?  It’s best not to be caught listening to the original, though, because it is shamefully cheesy.  Jimmy Eat World’s cover of the Christmas kiss-off pays just enough homage to Wham! while incorporating their own alt-rock edge.   

9. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Norah Jones and Willie Nelson.

Perhaps the most recognizable and most covered Christmas song in the canon, it was written in 1944 but didn’t debut until 1948.  Many classic versions have been produced, like Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell’s unforgettable performance in Elf.  Norah Jones and Willie Nelson, however, make the listener feel at home in their masterful duet.

10. “Wonderful Christmastime” by The Shins.

All you need to simply have a wonderful Christmastime is this song.  Paul McCartney penned the song in 1979.  Like McCartney’s original, indie rock band The Shins utilizes a synthesizer to give it that ‘80s feel.  The Shins, however, kick the Christmas element up a notch, kindling holiday cheer.

11.  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Kelly Clarkson.

Now that she’s wrapped her tour and wrapped in red, it’s likely that Clarkson may actually be home for Christmas.  And how lucky is her family to have that voice to take the caroling reigns?  Clarkson controls her usually monster vocals over a simple jazz production.  Kelly, will you come to all of our homes and sing this song on Christmas?

12. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by Maroon 5.

So this is Christmas.  John Lennon and Yoko Ono released the song in 1971 to protest the Vietnam War.  Maroon 5 released their version in 2007 to a world that seemed just as plagued by violence.  The band spreads John and Yoko’s message that Christmas is, or should be, a holiday full of peace.

What are your favorite covered Christmas classics?