Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Top 30 Christmas Songs of All Time

Christmas has always been very meaningful to me.  From my earliest memories of our family gatherings to more recent times watching Rachel cut a balsam tree down and dragging it through the snow for the family to decorate and every memory in between -- this is my favorite time of the year.  

For a few years I have been contemplating building a list of my favorite Christmas songs but it was not until this year that I took the time to put pen to paper.  What better than a global pandemic to conduct research for such an endeavor!  And thus my project of listing out the top Christmas songs of all time was born.  

But what defines a Christmas song?  It is not merely a religious song that you could hear on any given Sunday in a Catholic church.  For this list, it is defined as any song that features the word Christmas, appears in a Christmas movie, makes reference to Santa Claus or is about the a true meaning a Christmas -- the birth of Jesus!

Once I had the definition clear in my head, then I needed to figure out which Christmas songs appealed to me the most.  The basic question I kept asking myself was 'which songs could I listen to on repeat if I were 16 years old again bagging groceries at Econo Foods for a 9 hour shift in December and Christmas songs were on endless repeat?'  

That doesn't mean that the list only contains classical Christmas songs, or even those created before my grocery bagging career started in 1991.  This is an all encompassing list ranging from the 16th century until present day. 

Here is what I what I came up with.  Read on and see if you agree. 

30. Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano - This festive song is a Christmas mainstay but had it's ranking hurt by its repetitive nature.  There are only 20 unique words sang over and over for 3 minutes.  

29. Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid - An often forgotten collaboration from 1984 included such stars as Phil Collins, Boy George, Sting, George Michael and others raised $24 million for starving children in Ethiopia.

28. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town by Bruce Springsteen - The Boss recorded the live version of this Haven Gillespie song just 17 days after I was born in 1975 and still today it receives the most airplay of all renditions.

27. Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney - This original Christmas song was recorded by McCartney as part of his solo career in 1979 after the final album from Wings was released but the synthesizer 

26. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by MercyMe - Dating back to the 1700's, this song is also known as Tidings of Comfort and Joy and makes the list with a version by MercyMe from their 2005 album The Christmas Sessions, 

25. Blue Christmas by Elvis - First rerecorded in 1948, this song was made famous in 1957 when the King recorded it for his 1957 Christmas album. 

24. I'll Be Home for Christmas by Bing Crosby - Recorded in 1943, this classic Christmas song features a soldier writing a letter to his family from overseas during World War II that he will be home for Christmas, if only in his dreams.

23. Believe by Josh Groban - From the Polar Express soundtrack, this song reached the top of the Billboard adult contemporary chart and received a Grammy in 2006 for best song written for a motion picture

22. Hark the Herald Sing by Rebecca St. James - This is modern take of the song from the early 18th century appears on the Unexpected Gifts: 12 New Sounds Of Christmas album from 2006.

21. A Mad Russian's Christmas by Trans-Siberian Orchestra - This song is literally impossible to describe as it includes everything from a soft intro to a crazed paced piano and rock guitar riff with everything in between. 

The Top 20

20. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi - This song from the American jazz pianist gained popularity in 1965 as part of the Charlie Brown Christmas special. 

19. This Christmas Time by Samantha Hooey - This song was featured in a 2017 Hallmark Christmas movie entitled Christmas Next Door.

18. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby - From the Hawaiian phrase meaning "Merry Christmas," this song was recorded in 1949 and was featured prominently in a Clark Griswold dream sequence during the 1989 movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

17. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee - Recorded in 1958 by Lee when she was only 13 years old, most people today associate this song with the 1990 movie Home Alone during a scene when Kevin (McCallister) stages a holiday party to help ward off burglars. 

16. Please Come Home for Christmas by Eagles - This song from 1960 has been covered by many artists including Bon Jovi and Martina McBride but the best version was the Eagles cover in 1978,

15. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland - This song was written for the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis and made the American Film Institute top 100 songs of the last 100 years.

14. A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives - This song appeared in the 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that also featured Burl Ives as the narrator.

13. Mary, Did You Know? by Cimorelli - Written in 1984, this modern a cappella version is best described as haunting.

12. Christmas Eve / Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra - This powerful and fast paced acoustic Christmas song features their take on 1914 Ukrainian folk song Carol of the Bells.

11. Joy to the World by Faith Hill - First published over 300 years ago, this song has many versions with the best coming from Faith Hill in 2008.

The Top 10

10. Angels We Have Heard on High by Chris Tomlin - This Christmas song about the birth of Jesus is sung to the hymn Gloria, with this version recorded for the 2009 album Glory in the Highest.

9. White Christmas by Bing Crosby - Released in 1942, this is the best selling single of all time (50 million), which is ahead of Elton John's Candle in the Wind 1997 by a whopping 17 million!

8. Boughs of Holly by Trans-Siberian Orchestra - This is a modern rock take of the 16th century Welsh song Deck the Halls.

7. Silent Night by Michael Bublé - Witten in the early 1800's in Austria, this song was made most popular by Bing Crosby as the 4th best selling single of all time, but the Bublé version is the rendition that makes this list. 

6. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams - From 1964, this song about typical Christmas traditions makes reference to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with the lyrics "telling of scary ghost stories."

5. Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow by Dean Martin - Though first released in 1957 by Frank Sinatra, the (better) version that makes this list is by Dean Martin from 1959.

4. O Come, All Ye Faithful - Chris Tomlin - This song was translated into English from the original Latin lyrics in the mid 1700's and has been covered many times. 

3. Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra - From their 1998 album The Christmas Attic, this song features a children's choir and is one of the best selling Christmas songs of all time.  

2. Let it be Christmas by Alan Jackson - From the 2002 album of the same name, this song features lyrics promoting the notion that the feeling of the Christmas season should continue throughout the entire year. 

And the #1 Christmas Song of all Time is... 

1. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Perry Como - This song from 1951 celebrates a simpler time when Christmas decorations appeared in front windows of department stores.