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Top five Christmas songs

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.

Responses to "Top five Christmas songs"

devoya says:

i had no idea willie had a christmas song! i don’t listen to much christmas music, but when i do it’s mostly via the recommendations of others.

Josh Tehee says:

And then there’s Megadeth.

[…] friend Josh Tehee over at the Fresno Bee put together a list of his Top Five Christmas Songs. It inspired me to do the same. Now I’m not the biggest fan of holiday sounds, but […]

Ray Arthur says:

Oh Holy Night -Lou Christie
White Christmas – Conway Twitty
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen
Christmas Baby Please Come Home – Darlene Love
Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry

Dale Stewart says:

I like the Bowie/Crosby song and the Ramones, too, but I basically hate just about everything about Christmas. I do like getting and giving stuff, I just don’t like the Christmas trees, ornaments, lights and pusating commercialism.

Scott Hatfield says:

Five secular (or in the case of the Crosby/Bowie number, weirdly secularized) “Christmas” songs. I don’t want to be one of those awful ‘War on Christmas’ people who feel attacked when their views aren’t privileged in the public square, but I find this list oddly-jarring, as if the only point of Christmas is to give a tip of the hat to one’s favority novelty record. I mean, why not “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”? Look: most of the good Christmas songs are carols, for crying out loud, and most of the good Christmas music doesn’t come from Tin Pan Alley, it comes from various church traditions. You would never know that from your list.

Joan gouveia says:

sorry to dissapoint you … Not everyone is Christian…why you so angry?…I never think of what Christians are into, so why you care so much about others’ ideas of Xmas ?

Joan gouveia says:

THANX for #5….but joey’s rendition on the solo album “ya know” Can’t be denied…it’ll tear your heart out…

soddruntlestuntle says:

Mariah Carey? Seriously? Did someone put you up to this Josh, are you in distress? Maybe you can’t talk, this blog has been compromised– knock once for yes, twice for no.

Anyway, ‘Father Christmas’ by the Kinks should definitely be on this list. As should ‘Riu Riu Chiu’ by the Taverner Consort conducted by Andrew Parroll. It’s a 15th-century Spanish villancico, and if you haven’t heard it, you should search it out, it’s quite lovely.

Martin Martinez says:

The duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie is a great choice.It shows you liberals and conservatives agree on things more than it looks and can come together to sing a great song.A side note when I was researching the song “Little drummer Boy” I found out that the real life Von Trapp family originally sang it as a song entitled “Carol of the drum”. The family whose life story is featured in my favorite movie actually sang one of my favorite Christmas songs.

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