Because somebody has to do it (and because I’ve been listening to A LOT of Christmas music for the past three days), here’s my list of the best Christmas songs. Ever.
Of course, this kind of list is up for debate, so feel free to share your thoughts.
1.) “All I Want for Christmas is You,” Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey cracked the code with this one. The you’re-the-only-gift-I-need imagery, the soaring vocals and peppy piano line, the jingle bells — this song seems to have Christmas built into its very DNA. I’ve heard other versions (Lady Antebellum for one), but Carey’s is tops. The English website Mirror says it’s the nation’s favorite (or favourite) Christmas song.
2.) “White Christmas,” The Drifters
“White Christmas” is classic. It may be the best-selling record of all time (more than 100 million copies, by some estimates). It’s been covered by everyone from Erasure and Bad Religion to Lady Gaga and, of course, The Drifters, whose doo wop version hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues charts when it was released in 1954. The intensity of Clyde McPhatter’s voice as he starts playing with the melody on the second verse puts their version top of my list.
3.) “Frosty the Snowman,” Willie Nelson
It’s Willie. Singing about a snowman that comes life because of a magic hat. What more do you need to know? The harmonica parts (sort of hidden in the mix) are a nice touch.
4.) “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” David Bowie and Bing Crosby
Not sure this song would have the same impact if it wasn’t for the accompanying video. It’s just so odd. Recorded for a Bing Crosby Christmas special in 1977, the song itself is a reworking of the traditional “Little Drummer Boy,” and was recorded a month before Crosby died. You can get some more back story from this Washington Post piece from 2006.
5.) “Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight,” The Ramones
The closing track The Ramones 1989 album, “Brain Drain,” this song juxtaposes traditional Christmas iconography (Santa, kids tucked in their beds) with a more realistic interpretation of what the holidays mean for most people. It’s comes off as a bit schlocky, but that’s part of The Ramones’ charm.