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Best Christmas Songs: 20 Classic Tracks For The Holiday Season
List & Guides

Best Christmas Songs: 20 Classic Tracks For The Holiday Season

From festive celebrations to seasonal sass and holiday heartbreak, the best Christmas songs cover all the Yuletide bases.

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What makes a great Christmas song? It could be anything from a memorable hook to a moving sentiment – or the simple fact that it gets excited in the mood for the holidays. Whether they fuel your seasonal cheer (or capture those holiday blues), the best Christmas songs all have one thing in common: they are timeless classics destined to come around every year.

Here, then, from Mud to mistletoe, are our 20 best Christmas songs.

Listen to the best Christmas songs on Spotify, and check out our 20 best Christmas songs, below.

20: Andy Williams: It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (1963)

Thanks to the big-band energy, and Williams’ charming voice, this is one of the best Christmas songs for a reason. A perfect reminder of everything we all love about a lively holiday season – carols, toasted marshmallows and mistletoe – this triple-time number has remained a favourite since the pop singer released it on his first Christmas album, in 1963.

19: Michael Bublé: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (2012)

Second only to Santa himself, Michael Bublé is a true poster boy for Christmas. His Christmas album is a guaranteed stocking-filler – and with songs like this, it’s clear to see why. Originally written by Meredith Willson in 1951, It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas has been recorded countless times, but Bublé’s version stands as one of the strongest, instantly conjuring the traditional holiday spirit, no matter where you are.

18: Jackson 5: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1970)

A young Michael Jackson shines through on this iconic recording of a song originally written in 1952. Filled with Jackson 5’s stellar harmonies, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus brings a little bit of drama to Christmas, as the protagonist believes he has seen his mother kissing old Saint Nick behind his father’s back. Little does he know, it’s actually his father in a Santa costume…

17: Elvis Presley: Winter Wonderland (1971)

Even The King Of Rock’n’Roll made time for Christmas. His version of this festive banger comes with all the swagger you’d expect, bringing a fresh energy to a timeless classic that earns its place among the best Christmas songs.

16: Mariah Carey: All I Want For Christmas Is You (1994)

If Michael Bublé is the modern-day king of Christmas music, Mariah Carey is undoubtedly the queen. All I Want For Christmas Is You has served as the season’s unofficial theme song since appearing on her 1994 album, Merry Christmas. It’s one of the first songs you hear in stores on 1 December – if not before.

15: Bing Crosby And The Andrews Sisters: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1947)

Both Bublé and Carey have also had stabs as this festive classic but, thanks in no small part to its irresistible swing, Bing Crosby And The Andrews Sisters’ version has crossed generations to become one of the best Christmas songs of all time.

14: Wham!: Last Christmas (1984)

While Christmas is a time for merriment and cheer, there’s usually a little heartbreak – and, for Wham! fans, it didn’t get more heartbreaking than learning of George Michael’s death on Christmas Day in 2016. Though kept off the Christmas No.1 spot by Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, Last Christmas is an undeniable pop classic, and any run-down of the best Christmas songs that leaves it out doesn’t have the right to call itself a serious list.

13: Dean Martin: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (1959)

A member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack – a collective of crooners that also included Sammy Davis, Jr, and actor Peter Lawford – Dean Martin delivers a potent dose of Christmas jubilance on his version of this legendary song, written in 1945 by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne.

12: Shakin’ Stevens: Merry Christmas Everyone (1985)

Hitting the UK Christmas No.1 spot in the year of its release, Shakin’ Stevens’ seasonal romp remains a firm favourite at every Christmas party, thanks to a bouncy synth rhythm and jingle-bell percussion that offers a perfect blast of 80s nostalgia.

11: Brenda Lee: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (1958)

The iconic voice of one of the biggest female singers of the 60s is impossible to resist. With infectious Christmas cheer, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree is, like all the best Christmas songs, guaranteed to be stuck on repeat in your head throughout the whole of December – and quite possibly into the new year.

10: Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmastime (1979)

Wonderful Christmastime sees the legendary ex-Beatle doing what he does best: creating an incredibly simple, catchy song. McCartney covers all the bases in the verses – parties, festive spirit and carolling – before nailing it every time with an excellent chorus.

9: Gene Autry: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1949)

Despite being covered many times, Gene Autry’s original pop-country recording of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer still stands as the definitive version. Autry’s sweet, smooth voice is an absolute joy to listen to while waiting for Rudolph to make his yearly appearance.

8: Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby (1953)

Yes, Christmas can be sexy – as Madonna and Kylie Minogue have made clear with their versions of Santa Baby. Eartha Kitt’s original, however, remains one of the holiday season’s sassiest songs, its flirtatious energy raising with every verse. With this on the stereo in 1953, it’s amazing Santa found the time to deliver any presents.

7: Cliff Richard: Mistletoe & Wine (1988)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of mistletoe and wine, would it? That’s what Cliff Richard made sure to remind us on his classic 1988 single, originally written for a 1976 stage adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Match Girl. Released (astonishingly) as Richard’s 99th single, Mistletoe & Wine became the highest-selling single of the year, scoring the singer his 12th No.1 in the process.

6: Bing Crosby And Frank Sinatra: White Christmas (1964)

No list of the best Christmas songs is complete without White Christmas. Sinatra and Crosby’s Christmas duets are among both singers’ best performances, and their rendition of White Christmas serves as an excellent soundtrack to putting up the decorations at the start of the festive period.

5: Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song (1946)

Blessed with one of the world’s most beautiful voices, Nat King Cole was born to record The Christmas Song, and oozes cool with every aspect of his delivery. Written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in 1944, and performed by The King Cole Trio two years later, the song continues to live up to its definitive title.

4: Mud: Lonely This Christmas (1974)

Lonely This Christmas is one of the more solemn entries in our list of the best Christmas songs but, in typical Christmas spirit, listeners tend to look past vocalist Les Gray’s heartbreak and head straight for the irresistibly catchy chorus. Channelling Elvis Presley, the song was penned by Mud’s producers and primary songwriters, Nicky Chinn and Micky Chapman, and became the band’s second No.1 of the year, following their smash hit Tiger Feet.

3: Wizzard: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (1973)

Despite being one of the most ubiquitous Christmas songs, I Wish It Could Be Christmas never made it to the No.1 spot. Instead, it was pipped to the post in 1973 by Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody. However, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday has one of the most relatable sentiments among the best Christmas songs, leaving you feeling warm and full of festive cheer – but also a little frustrated as you remember there’s another whole year to wait before it becomes socially acceptable to be drunk at 5pm, working your way through a third box of chocolates.

2: Chris Rea: Driving Home For Christmas (1988)

Never has a song so perfectly encapsulated that amazing feeling of returning home for the holidays – you can forget all your worries you travel back to see friends and family. It’s for good reason that we have long trusted Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas to soundtrack this moment: his smooth, deep voice and the jazzy instrumental is the perfect pacifier.

1: The Pogues: Fairytale Of New York (1987)

With its Celtic bounce and uplifting chorus, Fairytale Of New York will forever head our list of the best Christmas songs. Though replete with singer Shane MacGowan’s typical lyrical beauty and driven by The Pogues’ rollicking energy, the song’s standout performance comes from the late, great Kirsty MacColl, who emerges as the perfect sparring partner for MacGowan.

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