Whether one loves or hates Christmas songs, they begin popping up around November and are pretty much inescapable, over the holiday season. Certainly, it can be a good idea to have other playlists on hand, to occasionally get away from the never ending stream of Christmas on the radio. However, for some, those weeks of festive music is never too much. There are even songs that are so good that one might want to listen to them, even when it’s not the holiday season. So, we list them here, along with a few extra fun facts!
1) All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff
All I Want for Christmas is You is a song that was released nearly 25 years ago, by Mariah Carey and one of her collaborators, Afanasieff. The two single-handedly wrote and produced it and ever since, it has been one of the most easily recognizable Christmas songs of our time. In fact, upon hearing the title, most people begin to automatically play the song in their head! That is just how powerful the upbeat Christmas jingle really is. What makes it special is that it is not about religion, rather it is about love and longing and the desire to be with someone close over the holidays. According to Afanasieff, the song has a couple of special chords however overall, it is simple, and that’s what makes it appealing to so much of the world. What’s undeniable is that the hit gives Mariah Carey title as, the queen of Christmas music, and also added respect as a music artist. In fact, the song has earned Carey and Afanasieff over $50 million since its release in 1994.
2) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is a song that was written by Martin and Blane for Judy Garland to sing in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis. The 1944 romantic musical comedy, which also happens to be one of the exceptional movies, rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, set the stage for the Christmas hit. However, this was only the beginning for the sad song, since it went on to be sung by many famous artists over the next 74 years. This includes music stars, like Carpenters, Michael Bublé, Christina Aguilera, Keyshia Cole, and Martina McBride. The original song is well known for being overwhelmingly sad, so sad that Judy Garland found it too dire to sing, so she changed some lyrics for the movie. The song was adapted again for Frank Sinatra’s 1950’s album, A Jolly Christmas, to make it into a much more uplifting song. Yet, the melancholy of the song, had appealed to soldiers, who had been at war overseas for World War II. What’s undeniable is that the emotion behind the song, even if sad, is also touching.
3) Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Santa Baby is one of the novelty songs of its time, since instead of the usual nostalgia songs, which had rather conventional Christmas themes, Santa Baby poked fun at the holiday. Lyrics like, “Santa honey, I want a yacht” and “come and trim my Christmas tree with some decorations bought at Tiffany” are all butts at the consumerist aspects of the holiday. What makes this song so remarkable is the voice behind the lyrics. Eartha Kitt, the singer, chosen for the tune has an especially sultry voice, which was perfect for its flirty tone. This may not be surprising, since her experience was as a nightclub performer, and she had the confidence of a US Senator’s daughter. Since the songs 1953 release, it’s been redone by acclaimed female vocalists, like Madonna, Kylie Manogue, Taylor Swift, Natalie Merchant, and LeAnn Rimes.
4) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
One may be thinking, how come Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer makes this list over Frosty the Snowman! Both children’s songs are incredibly catchy and in no way is one truly better than the other, based on the song alone. However, the 1998 Rudolph movie comes with a much happier ending, which is how come its theme song wins this list. Yet, some will argue that Frosty the Snowman is the better movie overall because it teaches kids friendship and bravery, since Frosty sacrificed himself and melted to save his friend from freezing. Rudolph, however, also has a very positive message, since it teaches kids to accept others despite their ‘flaws’. Rudolph’s flaw, his red nose, ended up being his greatest strength, since his nose lit the way for Santa’s sleigh during a storm. So, the song also shows kids to love their flaws, since it’s what makes them special, and gives them potential to really shine - literally.
5) Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is last but certainly not least on this top five Christmas song hits. It was first belted out in 1958 and has since been sung by great artists, like Cyndi Lauper, Amy Grant, and Miley Cyrus. However, no version has ever truly outdone its original, which was sung by Brenda Lee, when she was just 13 years old! In fact, for over 25 years, the song was ranked among the top five most played Christmas hits, in the US, and it was so popular that Lee could live off the performance rights alone. The song’s writer is Jonny Marks, who also happened to have already established himself in the Christmas music industry, having written Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 19 years prior. While the song’s lyrics are somewhat basic and include lines like, “let the Christmas spirit ring” and “we’ll do some caroling”, they come alive with Lee’s rock and roll delivery.
So, these are the top five Christmas songs that one can likely hear at any time of the year and go – ok this is kind of nice! Perhaps, Silent Night should have made the list however its underlying religious tone may be best left up to the actual holiday season. While there are so many great Christmas hits, few are unprecedented, in such a way that they’re worth listening to on repeat. For anyone who hasn’t heard the above songs – which is unlikely – should definitely go and check them out!