With Thanksgiving gone and peppermint-flavored menu items popping up like presents underneath the tree, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go. But just in case you haven’t started celebrating yet, here are the top 10 Christmas songs that will make you feel like Santa came early this year.
10. A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
This song says Christmas is the best time of the year and really makes you feel it. Burl Ives has a bright and merry twang to his voice that gives the song a genuine warmth, as if he is personally wishing you a holly jolly Christmas. This is a feel-good tune that I always find to be the perfect starting point for the holiday season, which is why it is number 10 on the list.
9. A Marshmallow World – Seth MacFarlane
For two minutes and 16 seconds, I can’t help but think of how fun it would be to live in a marshmallow world before I remember how sticky it would be. “A Marshmallow World” is a fun jaunt of a song all about taking a step back and enjoying the simple pleasures of spending time with that special someone during the busiest time of the year. The chorus and key change at the end give the song such a fun liveliness that not only shows off Seth MacFarland’s surprisingly great vocal range but also makes it stand out amongst other recordings.
8. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald’s reinvention of the American songbook finds its way to the holidays and provides quite possibly the best recording of one of the most famous Christmas songs. What is usually a leisurely stroll down Candy Cane Lane is sped up to an upbeat swing on Santa’s sleigh. Fitzgerald’s vocal improvisation soars in the second half, providing a fresh and exciting take on this holiday hit.
7. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
As a Southern California local, I find myself right at home with a Beach Boys Christmas. We have all seen Beach Santa in one way or another, either riding the waves or catching a tan, and this song captures exactly that. A surf-rock Santa Claus cruising around town and delivering presents is exactly the psychedelic Christmas song I find myself needing.
6. All I Want For Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
Love it, hate it or just extremely annoyed by it, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” is a holiday staple at this point. The song expertly blends the ’90s power ballad with Christmas iconography. Modern pop vocals paired with classic Christmas sentiments of wanting love for the holidays, choral backgrounds and the bells that echo the melody give this song the iconic Christmas sound. The fact that I couldn’t stop smiling while I was listening to this song goes to show how well it encapsulates the Christmas spirit.
5. Last Christmas – Wham!
’80s synth Christmas anyone? While Carey hammers you over the head with Christmas spirit, Wham! subtly incorporates it into their specific sound, making this not just a fantastic Christmas song, but just a great song even outside of the holiday season. Their ability to make a Christmas song that I would happily throw on in April is why they deserve that exclamation point in their name and the number five spot on the list.
4. Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) – Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters
Bing Crosby is the king of Christmas classics, and this song is no different. The Andrews Sisters duet has a tight and impressive vocal harmony. The trumpet and saxophone solos interjected with the classic Hawaiian slide guitar are the perfect blend of classic jazzy Christmas and island musical flair. Not to mention that the entire song is wrapped up in Crosby’s soothing bass that carries this Hawaiian love letter to the holidays across the Pacific Ocean and comfortably into our top five.
3. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
For all the dads out there, this one’s for you. Talk about a quintessential Christmas song. Being featured in both 1942’s “Holiday Inn” and 1954’s “White Christmas,” this song has been passed down and beloved through generations. The song’s melancholy longing for Christmases past will forever have a place in our hearts as we find ourselves lovingly remembering the white Christmases we used to know.
2. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
With a voice like Michael Bublé’s, every day is a holiday. If I said I was smiling during “All I Want For Christmas is You,” this one is a mad grin of pure holiday happiness. The song doesn’t hammer you over the head with sleigh bells and thick choral harmonies, for its beauty lies in its subtleness. With its easy swing groove and those gorgeous vocals from Bublé describing how our everyday world subtly transforms into this winter wonderland, it truly draws attention to just how beautiful this time of the year is.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas [Expanded Edition] – Vince Guaraldi
Yes, I’m cheating with this one, but to pick a single favorite song would surely put me on Santa’s naughty list. Every song on this album invokes the warmth and nostalgic embrace of childhood wonder and excitement for Christmas. Be it “Skating,” “Great Pumpkin Waltz” or “Christmas Time Is Here,” they all make you feel like you’re sitting around the fireplace on a snowy winter’s night surrounded by loved ones. I have never experienced snow or used my fireplace since I live in Southern California, but the fact that this album makes me feel as if I had makes it the best collection of Christmas songs of all time.
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