10. Underneath the Tree
By Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree became an instant Christmas pop classic the moment it was out in 2013 especially due to its optimistically earnest lyrics and its steadfast vocals.
The song’s sentimentality evokes the importance of love and companionship for Christmas because being “alone on Christmas day” makes it “cold and grey / another holiday” as Christmas loses its taste if not shared without others.
9. Winter Wonderland
By Bing Crosby
Written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and lyricist Richard Bernhard Smith, Winter Wonderland has been covered by over 200 different artists and of them, Bing Crosby is listed as one of the most well-received artists of Winter Wonderland.
The song’s seasonal theme instantly puts it as a Christmas special where the lyrics focus on a couple’s romance during the winter. With many references to “walking in a winter wonderland,” the song conveys the simple but deep message of finding beauty and joy in an otherwise cold season.
8. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
By Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee aka Little Miss Dynamite was 13 of age when she first recorded Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree in 1958 and has been recorded by many artists ever since. By 2008 that marked the song’s 50th anniversary, it sold over 25 million copies of its original version.
So to “have a happy holiday” with “everyone’s dancing merrily in the new old fashioned way”, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is just right the song to include in your Christmas playlist.
7. Blue Christmas
By Elvis Presley and Martina McBride
Blue Christmas featuring The Jordanaires and Mille Kirkham as background vocals, is widely known as Elvis Presley’s most iconic Christmas recording. The song was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948 and it was only in 1957 that Presley flagged Blue Christmas as a steadfast rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it for Elvis’ Christmas Album.
For many listeners, Blue Christmas evokes a sense of grief mixed with a touch of unrequited love. The song’s simple yet steady lyrics hold much emotion especially, to those missing their important ones.
Blue Christmas concisely paints the picture of the first holiday after losing someone and lyrics such as “won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me” and “but I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas” makes this tender love song a perfect nostalgia for one to get lost in a past that is no more.
6. Merry Christmas
By Ed Sheeran and Elton John
Released in 2021, Merry Christmas was Sheeran’s first Christmas song while it was John’s second Christmas single. The song became a well-loved Christmas hit that topped the charts.
Like most Christmas specials, Sheeran’s and John’s Merry Christmas centres on enjoying a jovial holiday together with loved ones.
The vocalists’ excitement to spend their time with their significant other urges the listeners to do the same – particularly addressing the hardships of COVID-19 “I know there’s been a pain this year, but it’s time to let it go.” The song focusses on looking forward because “Next year, you never know” if there’ll be another Christmas to celebrate.
5. Feliz Navidad
By José Feliciano
In 1970, José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad was the first-ever bilingual Christmas song to be officially recorded. The song’s mix of Spanish and English wasn’t something Feliciano put much thought into. Reportedly, he hammered out the song in minutes inspired by his feelings of longing for his homeland, Puerto Rico.
It has been over 50 years since the song’s release yet Feliz Navidad continues to stick with listeners worldwide especially due to its simplistic charm of heartfelt lyrics – “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart” add depth to this Christmas classic.
4. Shake Up Christmas
San Francisco-based rock band’s Shake Up Christmas was initially recorded for Coca-Cola’s Christmas advertising in 2010. As the song was written during an economically difficult period for the US – Train singer Pat Monahan told the public that the song was his way of helping spread some happiness.
Shake Up Christmas talks about spreading bliss and love to “shake up the happiness” because “Christmas time” is about conjuring the holiday joy.
3. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
By Michael Bublé
Written in 1951 by Meredith Willson the song has been recorded by many artists, and had been a hit for Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters however, Michael Bublé version’s merry yet choppy verses with his signature jazz vocals make it stand out from the rest of the artists.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas celebrates the coming of the Christmas season where any scenery seems “glistening once again / with candy canes and silver lanes aglow” with lively echoes of Christmas bells and carols. The song demonstrates that the simple appearance of Christmas brings joy and excitement like no other season.
2. Last Christmas
Last Christmas was released in 1984 by the pop duo Wham! which topped number one on the UK singles chart for the first time in 2021.
The song focusses on a failed relationship and confronting them a year later. However, the only reference to Christmas is the song’s consistent and dominant phrase “Last Christmas” yet it was the most-played Christmas song in the UK.
Perhaps, it’s the idea of dedicating love (as Wham! says “Last Christmas I gave you my heart”) or leaving behind failed relationships to finding “someone special” that made Last Christmas a classic hit – finding new opportunities in life and looking back to the failures in life is part and parcel of the year ends festivity.
1. All I Want for Christmas Is You
By Mariah Carey
Since its release in 1994, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You has become a must-have hit in every Christmas music list. As the song continued to outpour in popularity each festive year-end’ it indisputably became the best-selling holiday song by a female artist and one of the best-selling physical singles in music history.
In addition, All I Want for Christmas Is You is the first and only holiday song in the US to complete 10 million copies of sales.
The song is all about wanting companionship over materialism for Christmas. Its warm lyrics such as “I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree” and “I don’t need to hang my stocking there upon the fireplace” elegantly brings out the importance of receiving the greatest Christmas gift – love.