It is hard to argue with a list containing the most famous Christmas songs because they've stood the test of time and are the records that people turn to as soon as December 1st comes around again. For many people the songs that appear on this page completely service their music needs over the Christmas period and while we’d argue that there is a treasure trove of other Christmas music that deserves some attention it’s easy to see why these songs have become the cream of the crop.
No list such as this would be complete without the biggest selling song of all time. With its depiction of a traditional yuletide Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' was embraced by legions of soldiers during World War II and its appeal has hardly waned in the intervening period. It seems that every generation just pines for the Christmas of their youth and 'White Christmas' captures that feeling perfectly. From the same era and equally precious is Nat King Cole's 'The Christmas Song'. Nat was just like Bing in that he had the perfect croon which means his warm Christmas recordings come into their own as the snow storms billows outside.
While 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song' both sport a contemplative demeanour there are plenty of famous Christmas songs with a pep in their step. Bobby Helms 1957 piece of rockabilly ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is one such, as is Gene Autry’s 25 million selling ‘Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ which is surely the definitive version of this much covered jewel. If you are after a bit of sophistication then surely Andy Williams ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year’ is up there with the best of them. He may have recorded 7 Christmas albums over his long career but Christmas Andy would never top the grandeur of his most famous festive hit.
Of all the decades that have given us Christmas greats it is probably the sixties that is best represented. Who could ever amass a playlist without little Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, the great harmonies of the Beach Boys ‘Little Saint Nick’ or Dean Martin’s winning rendition of ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’. And that’s before you even mention the album that is a lot of people’s favourite Christmas release ever, namely Phil Spector’s ‘A Christmas Gift To You’ which spawned so many classic Christmas tunes. With classic tunes by the likes of Darlene Love and the Ronettes this album is like a greatest hits compilation.
After the highs of the 1960’s it initially appeared as if the following decade was also going to be a classic as Christmas 1971 revealed ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ by John Lennon, which remains one of the most played tunes on radio each December to this day. The 1970’s were intermittently brilliant but they are viewed as the poor relation when compared to the heady days of the previous decade. While the 1980's is continually derided for its music output it still managed to produce a huge amount of our favourites. Chief among them is the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's classic 'Fairytale of New York, a warts and all depiction of jaded love. It might be rough and ready subject matter but this is a cherishable piece of songwriting and for all the coarseness you can't help but root for the warring couple. Band Aid’s charity record 'Do They Know It's Christmas' is another Christmas staple that never fails to kick-start a sing along. And would any famous Christmas songs list be complete without Wham's sentimental but utterly endearing 'Last Christmas'? Probably not.
The 1990's may not have wielded an overwhelming influence on the most famous Christmas songs ever but it still produced a modern day classic in Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. Surely this exuberance filled delight would have lit up any decade and though it may wear its Spector influences on its red coloured sleeves it is forever among the most played songs each new holiday season. 'All I Want For Christmas' might actually be the last classic Christmas record to have been released, which given that it is almost 2 decades old is a little sad. But there have been moments of brilliance in the intervening period from the likes of Michael Buble with his enjoyable version of 'Silent Night' and Sarah McLachlan's haunting take on 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'.
Published by SpiritOfXmas | g+ profile