So either you love Christmas carols, or you HATE them.
People get so passionate when it comes to the festive tunes. You’re either hitting the high notes with Mariah and wailing “All I want for Christmas, is YOOOOUUUUUU!” or throwing a stocking at the stereo when the song comes on the radio for the 3rd time that day… and there are still weeks before Santa arrives.
The first step is honesty here: you are not going to love every single song in the world, so why do you expect the same from Christmas carols? I love Christmas songs and yet there are many I hit skip on my compilation Christmas albums.
The trick is, knowing which songs to go for. There are daggy and possibly I’ll even say it, bad Christmas songs, just as there are amazing and happy and moving and bouncing Christmas songs.
And this is where I present my list to you – the definitive, MASSIVE and all-encompassing Christmas song playlist that will keep everyone from your 6 year-old child to your 80 year-old granny happy and joyful joyful come December 25th.
Here it goes…
First off the bat, let’s get the festive playlist started with –
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” – Andy Williams.
Oh God, I hear this in shopping centres and I just want to hug someone, really I do. It’s a classic and uplifting tune, and gets you right in that Christmas frame of mind.
The best line?:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer…”
Ha! Nothing like someone telling you to be happy that gets you pissed right off! If that doesn’t cheer you yet, let’s move on to some…
Oh, yes. ♥ No good Christmas song list would dare to omit a Buble Christmas tune!
He is a Christmas legend! He does Christmas specials!
I have a couple to note from him but let’s start with
“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”
It’s a magical song with hints of whimsical Hollywood, and who can forget lines like –
“And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”
Next is Buble’s version of “Santa Baby.”
I preface this by saying that I’ve never really liked the Santa Baby song… anyone’s version. I’ve always found it weird that someone will be singing to Santa in what sounds like such a suggestive and sexual way…
Guys, he is like your grandad. That is just gross. 😖
But Buble, a bloke, does his own manly take on it. It has a touch of swing and cheek, and with plenty of hilarious lines like –
“Santa pally, I want a yacht and really that’s not, a lot
I’ve been a sweetie all year…”
It’s definitely worth a listen.
The last one I’ll mention FOR NOW (yes more Buble is coming so if you’re a fan you’re in for a real treat) is his own Christmas song, “Cold December Night.”
It’s got the traditional bells jangling but still has a real contemporary feel to it, while still retaining that Christmas ‘I want you home’ vibe that so many songs encapsulate.
“Stockings are hung with care
The children sleep with one eye open
Now there’s more than toys at stake
‘Cause I’m older now, but not done hoping.”
We’re going to move on now, to another Christmas legend.
Yep. You know it.
How the hell am I meant to write a Christmas song list without mentioning the most commercially successfully penned Christmas song of the last few generations?
It’s, M-A-R-I-A-H. 🤩
Don’t leave! Stay with me please you’ll be glad you did.
I’m going to start with a song you wouldn’t have guessed I would…
“Oh Holy Night.”
This song is something else. Her rendition is classic Mariah, and if you don’t get goosebumps while listening to her high note in the first half, well there is something wrong with you.
From her album, go to 1:39.
Another version. Go to 2:00.
And if you’re still not sure listen to this live piece at 1:41… and then the end of the song.
“Oh night… DIVVVVIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNEEEEEEE.”
Excuse me while I wipe away my tears. 😭
Okay I’ve gathered myself now.
There you go. LIVE my friends. And so much later after it’s first release and listen to that voice!
So clean, so fresh. Wham bam thank you maam. She proves there why she is worth $320 million as of this writing.
Now, I move to the predictable piece.
Bear with me.
“All I Want for Christmas is You.”
You gotta admit, it is a catchy tune. And an awfully clever one. Did you know it took all of 15 minutes for Mariah and her co-songwriter to pen for her 1994 holiday album Merry Christmas? And it continues to amass huge royalties for her all over the world.
It is the 12th biggest selling single ever, of all time as of 2019 (read that, EVER) and because of the layering of multiple music influences within the song, is considered in part by many music critics as the reason for its international success.
Sure it’s overplayed… but personally I love it.
“I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you.”
I mean the film clip is cute but also a bit cringe-worthy what with Santa (her ex Tommy Mottola) picking her up in the snow… ugh I just can’t. That whole “Santa Baby” thing rears its head and makes me uncomfy all over again.
Because of the upbeat tempo, sounds of bells ringing and Mariah hugging the dog and throwing snow in the air, it’s easy to miss the serious meaning of the song. But if you break it down and look at it on paper, you will see it actually is very simple, yet has a lot of depth.
Or… you can just hear it in a different version.
Insert Buble, again 🙂
Michael Buble does an amazing version of this song. It is soooo different – no high piercing notes, no fast beats. In his version all the words sound different yet are exactly the same, and subsequently come forth with more meaning. I for one LOVE the start of his:
“I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about those presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
You know that all I want for Christmas is you.”
How serious, how solemn… how sweet. There is more of a sombre tone to this one, and though I love Mariah’s classic and catchy version, I have a really soft spot for this one too.
I bet you might just be thinking of Mariah a bit differently now.
Okay, you can breathe easy, the Mariah mentions are over…
It wouldn’t be a Christmas list without a ‘Christmas special’ mention, and this one is a festive musical combination that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF…
Brace yourself – Buble and Mariah together.
Singing “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU.”
OKAY I LIED! Last one I promise.
Okay now we are truly done.
I’m going to try make the parentals and grandparents happy with this next lot.
We need to go back a long way so that they can rediscover the yester-years and be all teary-eyed in memory, right? Who else can do it better than Bing Crosby (coincidentally the 1st – FIRST! – biggest selling single of all time).
It has that classic old-world feel like all good black and white movies do, and the throwback to the good ol’ days is captured in the line –
“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.”
A couple more golden oldies:
Frank’s “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
And Elvis’ voice was made for “Blue Christmas.” This live version with Martina McBride is fabulous, and just watch the over-excitable girls in the audience about to wet themselves.
BA HA HA. Great film clip.
A couple of slow crooning ones sure, so now we’ll inject some much-needed contemporary pop to the playlist.
We all know her as the blonde-cropped, eye-covering contemporary power-belting Aussie superstar voice that has taken over Hollywood with her distinctive voice and song-writing prowess.
I can only be talking about Sia.
I didn’t know what to expect when her Christmas album came out years ago, but being fans Hubbie and I quickly snapped it up.
Everyday is Christmas features all original songs co-written by the Adelaide native. It’s huge to consider since most Christmas albums are predominantly retakes of old classics… Mariah Carey has 3 original tracks… Buble has 1…
Sia has 10 novel tracks.
They are true to Sia style and contemporary, some almost to the point that they may not traditionally sound like Christmas songs at all. She does the upbeat songs as well as the slow and melancholic ones, and two songs that show this spectrum perfectly are the slow and oddly romantic-sounding “Snowman”…
And the sing-a-long favourite “Ho Ho Ho.”
Even baby girl loves this one, so a big tick in the contemporary and also child-friendly department.
I also must mention the very sweet song “Puppies are Forever”…
“Puppies are forever, not just for Christmas
‘Cause they’re so cute and fluffy with shiny coats
But will you love ’em when they’re old and slow?”
Awww. What a sweet yet really serious message. Sia is a dog fan so no real surprise in that song. She has done brilliantly in creating a very different Christmas album, with her her intention for the album reportingly being that she felt there weren’t many Christmas songs around that she liked to listen to… so she made them up, of course.
Definitely a worthy Christmas album to have in your jolly itinerary.
While we’re on the subject of those making up their own songs, let’s go back in time to my teen years and re-introduce Hanson.
What? Don’t they sing Mmm Bop? Yes well that and a bazillion other tunes being prolific song writers still to this day. They have two Christmas albums (WOAH!) but it’s their first release from back in the day that many 30-somethings (emphasis, ‘somethings’) will remember to this day.
Their musical influences come from the 50s and 60s and incorporate that classic soulful and rock and roll feel, so it is no surprise that their album Snowed In shows this in spades. (Ha, my first pun!)
They have three original songs here, and two I need to make mention of – the slow “Christmas Time”
“Everybody needs a little loving, around Christmas time
Somehow you got to know you’re going to be alright…”
And the rock and roll and boppy “Everybody knows the Claus”
But they also do great renditions, and “Merry Christmas Baby” is just one of those throwbacks that pays homage to the original in a new way, really well.
While we’re in my teen genre, we need to make mention of some groups and artists that have done really
daggy and soppy brilliant Christmas songs.
We’ll start with one of my teen fave’s, and sing along to Nsync’s “I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You”…
“This is the time of year, when we learn to give
And the greatest gift, is learning to forgive…”
Sage words, especially from a guy with frosted tips.👱♂️
You can’t kill me, I’m a fan whose seen him at every Aussie concert! But this is such a 90s crooner… oh man.
Next up on the sickening boyband Christmas list is Backstreet Boys:
With “Christmas time.” Did you hear that lengthy “ooohhhh” at the start of the song from Brian?
Yep. Classic Christmas material.
(Am I meant to be laughing at these songs or convincing you that they’re awesome?)
Last on the so-bad-it’s-actually-good-or-is-it series of past teen songs is Britney’s “My Only Wish (This Year)”
Oh God did you hear the opening “oh yeah yeah?” Must be a 90s thing!
“‘Cause I have been so good, so good this year
Can’t be alone, under the mistletoe
He’s all I want and a big red bow.”
Wait, what? What has the bow? 💝
Moving on now… to GREATNESS.
The saddest yet perhaps one of the best Christmas songs of all time, the one that you just love to belt it out to, well…
“Last Christmas.” Another novel song idea, God this is so good. George is literally singing about being stood up, but he does it in the best 80s way, the way Wham! knew how to do so well… and the song continues to transcend genres and decades to this day and be awesome.
“Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance, but you still catch my eye
Tell me baby, do you recognise me?
Well it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me
(whispers) Merry Christmas…”
What an amazing song. Extra special points go out to this one because our beloved George passed away on Christmas day. Therefore he is forever immortalised in Christmas, for so many reasons.
Since we’re on the sad theme let’s also go serious for a moment with another powerful 80s festive tune – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Here’s a fun fact for you… Do you know Bono from U2 did not want to sing the infamous line –
“Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you!” –
referring to the poor and starving people dying in Ethiopia. But the brainchild behind the multi-artist collaboration to raise money for the famine, Bob Geldof, told Bono that he had to sing it, as it would mean so much more coming from him.
The rest is history, and the group of fifteen or so artists and groups came together and continue to make history, with proceeds of the song apparently still continuing to help people and charities in need all over the world.
Ain’t that a good idea. Buy the single and help someone starving. Merry Christmas to both of you.
And our final sombre look at Christmas comes from another kind of UK legend… John Lennon.
“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” also often referred to as So this is Christmas, interestingly maintains a real festive feel what with the bells ringing and choir kicking in at the chorus, and of course then there is the whole “Have a very Merry Christmas” message throughout. But John injects his own brand of world self-awareness with –
“And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong…”
The final lines tell us the real point behind his message “War is over, if you want it.” John was trying to save the world, with one
Christmas song at a time. If you like to ponder the meaning of life and Christmas festivities then this is the song for you.
A bit of 70s you fancy perhaps? Listen to the music in the Jackson 5 version of “The Little Drummer Boy.”
All those beating drums! Well you’d expect nothing less in a song about… drums. Young Michael’s voice is so high and youthful, and this rendition is still a classic what with the increasing urgency of tone as the song moves towards the end.
And, we are nearing the end! Almost there. I told you this was a comprehensive list.
I’ve covered the old-school teens (those now, ahem, ’30-somethings’) but now I’m going to move to some artists that today’s youth will appreciate.
Chuck a couple of these on your spotify and watch their ears perk up.
Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe.”
“With you, shawty with you…” Oh God I have to laugh. Not shorty, but shawty.
But the best line?
“The wise men followed the star
The way I followed my heart…”
Let’s move on now to some Arianna, and having heard this a few times it’s actually okay…
“Santa Tell Me” captures the Christmas teen vibe perfectly, what with oversized sweaters and a sleepover with girlfriends in her bed and the Christmas bells ringing in the background to the pop beat… perfect.
A recent addition to the contemporary genre is Taylor Swift’s “Christmas Tree Farm.” It starts off with a massive touch of classic Hollywood and blends into a festive Christmas melody to flashbacks of Taylor as a baby growing up at Christmas time… on a Christmas Tree Farm. So nostalgia is therefore definitely present. (Ha, second daggy pun!)
I’m going to keep going downwards in age and give you something to make the little tikes happy, yes? Why Christmas is mostly about them, what with Santa and presents and reindeer and being on the good list… so remember to include them when planning your music list.
I’m going to give you two classic Aussie bands that have given us two catchy and can’t-stop-singing-them songs.
(ALERT! CATCHY TUNE ALERT! CATCHY TUNE ALERT!)
The awfully catchy (I mean really catchy) “Santa Claus is coming” by popular kid’s group High-5.
Listen to this once with your child, and well… you’ll hear it a billion more times. Both on your stereo and then IN YOUR HEAD FOREVER. You’ve been warned.
(But you also want to keep them happy, so… )
“Santa Claus is coming, Santa Claus is coming
Santa Claus is coming, Santa Claus is coming…
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING! SANTA CLAUS IS COMING!”
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The next one is from the most iconic Australian kids group of all time, who have even gained huge international acclaim and fans.
It’s The Wiggles! (baby girl’s fave!) with “Go Santa Go!”
There is a skit at the beginning of this clip if you need context, you know, to work out who these Wiggly people are… but go to 2:33 if you just want the song. The Wiggles actually have a load of Christmas songs, novel ones too, but this is a terrific one as it’s repetitive, easy for the kids to sing and dance along to as well with those Danny Zuko Greased Lightning type moves…
I’m going to throw a spanner in the works for the next one and add a Christmas parody…
Aren’t all Christmas songs parodies I hear you ask? Calm down I’m joking. If you’ve read this far clearly you are a closet Christmas lover.
I heard this at baby girl’s school Christmas concert, and well, staying in theme with Aussie kids groups, this is an Aussie kids song all about our type of Christmas:
How funny! “Aussie Jingle Bells” is so hilariously outback, that you can’t not smile at lines like –
“Jingle Bells Jingle Bells
Christmas time is beaut
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a rusty Holden Ute.”
OH! Ha ha. The vision that accompanies the song in the film clip, though overdone is actually also spot on for an Aussie Christmas, which I love.
We’re going to stay with the Aussie theme as we head into the final stretch. Why wouldn’t I mention some amazing performers that we have, who make Christmas that much more amazing with their own special versions of classic Christmas songs…
Like two incredible and iconic performers, singing together, Olivia Newton John and John Farnham.
“Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”
Why it took so long for these two to pair up I don’t know, but this song with all the to-ing and fro-ing beautifully represents their voices and the playfulness of this festive tune.
“I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)…”
I think it’s a charming and cheeky song that honestly, people got all riled up over nothing a while ago.
It’s Christmas people!
Every year I watch the TV carols on Christmas Eve, and the one star who has come into his own performing there time after time is the former Australian Idol winner and great Anthony Callea.
A reality TV winner? On this list?
WAIT. You have not heard him. Included here is the international “Ave Maria,” but if you’re from my generation (so old now) you may remember him tearing down the roof with this rendition of “The Prayer” on Aus Idol, which led to him subsequently winning that season.
He’s gone on to sing that song at carols over the years and he is just AH-MAY-ZING. Search for that song if you like song and then listen to this Christmas melody below. You’ll see why he’s become a staples at the carols and a star in his own right.
Staying on the carols bandwagon, and maybe I am being awfully self-indulgent by naming performers that I feel a soft spot for, but Marina Prior has been a serious carols regular for as long as I can remember, from my childhood. The opera singer has a voice of an angel, and well, you get why she gets to sing “Silent Night” here:
This is one of my favourite traditional Christmas songs. Yes, it’s slow, but as I’ve displayed in this list, just as there is an artist for each age group, so is there a time of day when you should play certain songs. And this one winds up the festive day perfectly.
And also, this list. Because I present to you the final song, and we come full circle by coming back to…
The song I’m ending on is the target of a lot of jokes and misspellings out there, such as –
FOR LEASE NAVIDAD
FLEECE NAVIDAD, and
THE LEASE NOBBY DOT? 🤔
It’s obviously “Feliz Navidad” which roughly translated means Merry Christmas in Spanish for any people who still don’t know it.
Buble does the most beautiful duet with Thalia in this Christmas special below, and when he sings in Spanish it comes across effortlessly… his Spanish wife would be proud. 🙂
And with that, I end this MASSIVE (I told you) Christmas song list. I haven’t even started to scratch the surface of all the great Christmas songs out there, but this is a great starter and will keep you and your family and friends jolly and merry on Christmas Day.
And to that I say –
“I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom, of my heart.”