Well, it’s the most wonderful time of the year again and the Christmas season is in full swing. And while (according to the latest forecasts) it might not be wise to dream of a white Christmas, that shouldn’t stop you from curling up next to the fire with some hot cocoa and the latest edition of The Bradford as you let Christmas tunes get you in the spirit. To help you out, here are the Top five Christmas hits that you should make sure to add to your Spotify playlist.
5. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Written by Meredith Wilson in 1951 and subsequently made famous by the likes of Perry Como, multi-media star Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mathis, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas is a perennial favorite on Christmas radio stations. The vivid descriptions of holiday decorations, shopping, and the excitement that comes with the lead-up to the Christmas season is enough to get anyone in a cheery holiday mood. Unfortunately, with the Christmas season starting around Halloween nowadays, the radio stations begin playing this song on repeat in early November which hurts its ranking because nobody wants to hear about “candy canes and silver lanes aglow” while they are driving their Jack-o’lanterns to the dump.
4. Dominick the Donkey
A controversial classic written by Ray Allen (no, not that Ray Allen), Sam Saltzberg, and Wandra Merrell and recorded by Lou Monte in 1960 is either one of the most jolly or most annoying songs that you may hear on the radio each Christmas depending on who you are. Clearly I am on Team Dominick and a big fan of the “jolly Christmas donkey”. The biggest haters of this song generally wonder how a donkey could have any relation to Christmas, but if they listen to the lyrics, Lou Monte actually explains the importance of Dominick. As the story goes, Santa’s reindeer are incapable of climbing hills in Italy to deliver presents (it’s not like they couldn’t fly up the hills, right?) so Santa calls into action his lovable, dancing, Italian-speaking donkey helper to deliver gifts to Italian children. This song lived in relative obscurity until 2011 when it was used in multiple advertising campaigns and subsequently secured a spot in our hearts, and playlists, for countless Christmases to come.
3. Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer
One of the most upbeat songs you will hear this time of year is also one of the more darker holiday songs. Baby it’s Cold Outside has recently become Christmas Enemy #1 due to some people interpreting its call and response lyrics as an attempted date rape (regardless of your thoughts on the song, you are a Grinch if you don’t believe its performance by Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel in Elf is one of the funniest movie scenes of all time) while people have somehow ignored the fact that Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer is a song about Santa leaving the scene of a hit-and-run that killed an inebriated grandmother who stumbled out into a storm after mixing her medication with eggnog and a grandfather who replaces grandma with a much younger “cousin Mel”. I think that people overlook the darkness in the lyrics because Elmo Shropshire really did write a true Christmas classic with a cheery tune and a chorus that is incredibly fun to sing. The song even spawned an animated television special in 2000 that tells the cautionary tale of a Christmas Eve murder and warns RMVs everywhere not to issue a driver’s license to “a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves”.
2. Santa Tell Me
This is a newer song, but it’s been a Christmas playlist staple since Ariana Grande released it in 2014. While Grande has been all over the headlines recently with a very public relationship and engagement with SNL star Pete Davidson going sour and ultimately ending, I think that more attention needs to be given to her Christmas music. Santa Tell Me is not just Ariana Grande’s marquee Christmas hit, but it’s her best song period. It’s not too cheesy, features a wonderful vocal performance, and does surprisingly well as an original song. The song is not quite at the level of another pop Christmas hit (we’ll get to that later) but Grande does a really good job in mixing her pop background with the Christmas season. To anyone who disagrees with that assessment: thank u, next.
1. All I Want for Christmas is You
Taking the number one spot for best Christmas song is none other than Mariah Carey’s 1994 mega-hit, All I want for Christmas is You. Not only is it a downright fantastic Christmas song, but it’s also the 11th best selling single ever and probably the only Christmas song that will get people excited at any point during the year. It starts off slow with some real long notes and allows Carey to put her incredible vocal talent on full display before a piano starts, the drums come in, the bells begin to chime, and the song turns into a full out banger. That transition from slow to uptempo does not just get any Christmas party-goer out of their seat but it might be one of the most exciting moments in music history. It makes any holiday occasion cheerful, and it also sends a very important message to keep in mind this time of year with the intense commercialization of Christmas drawing focus away from the most important part of Christmas: spending time with people you love.
While an observer of this list may think there are some obvious omissions, this is an article about Christmas songs and some of the most popular songs this time of the year notably do not mention the holiday and therefore have no legitimate claim to a spot on this list. So without further ado here are the top three not-Christmas Christmas songs:
3. Winter Wonderland
This song has been covered by over 200 artists including Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Gwen Stefani, and Johnny Mathis but it doesn’t mention Christmas. Off the list.
2. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let is Snow!
Dean Martin’s song is fantastic but it’s a song about winter, not about Christmas. Additionally, it hasn’t snowed in Boston on Christmas since 2003 so save this song for January and February.
- Jingle Bells
This is a Thanksgiving song and everyone should know that by now. It’s a wonderful song full of cheer but it does not belong on this list. That being said, it does hold the title of being the first song ever broadcast from space which is a fun fact that can be brought up in any holiday conversation.