The Best Christmas Songs of All Time
These festive classics deserve a spot on every holiday playlist.
20 Classic Christmas Songs Worth Adding to Your Playlist
“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms
First released by Bobby Helms in 1957, “Jingle Bell Rock” peaked at #29 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It was a play on the holiday standard “Jingle Bells” and the hit song “Rock Around The Clock,” released a few years earlier in 1954. Over the years, the Christmas song gained massive popularity after appearing in hit movies, such as Jingle All The Way, Lethal Weapon and Mean Girls.
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“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano
Although the song was recorded in 1970, “Feliz Navidad” slowly gained popularity in the decades since. Believe it or not, the Christmas song didn’t chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 until 1998. It was also covered by a number of top artists, such as Garth Brooks, Michael Bublé and David Hasselhoff.
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“Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry
Written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie, “Run Rudolph Run” was popularized by Chuck Berry in 1958, in the same year as his iconic hit “Johnny B. Goode.” The Christmas song was also a hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
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“Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley
While the song was written in 1948, “Blue Christmas” wasn’t popularized until Elvis Presley released his own version in 1957. Since then, it’s been a rock and roll staple, as it was also covered by other recording artists, such as Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles, The Beach Boys, and Jon Bon Jovi.
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“Christmas Time Is Here” by Vince Guaraldi Trio
When you’re talking about the best Christmas movies of all time, A Charlie Brown Christmas has to rank near the top. “Christmas Time Is Here” was written for the TV special by Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi for the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and it became a hit due to the popularity of the animated classic in 1965. There’s an instrumental version and vocal version (sung by a choir of children from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California) of the song, as both versions create a sense of warmth and cheer for the holiday season.
“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by Alvin & The Chipmunks
In 1958, Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. wrote and performed (with three high-pitched chipmunk voices) “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” for fictional singing group Alvin and the Chipmunks. It later won three Grammy Awards, including Best Children’s Recording and Best Comedy Performance.
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“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” was written by Johnny Marks for singer Brenda Lee, and it was first released in 1958. It sold over 25 million copies and appeared in a number of TV shows and movies, most notably Home Alone in 1990. Many recording artists have covered the Christmas song, such as Amy Grant, Cyndi Lauper, and Green Day.
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“Silent Night” by Bing Crosby
“Silent Night” is a very popular Christmas standard from composer Franz Xaver Gruber and lyricist Joseph Mohr that dates back to 1818. The song was written about a small town in Austria and popularized by Bing Crosby. In fact, his version of “Silent Night” is the third bestselling single in recorded music history.
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“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by Jackson 5
The Jackson 5 released a Christmas album filled with holiday standards in 1970. From all of the songs recorded for the album, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was the biggest hit, as it peaked at #25 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
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“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry
Based on the children’s story of the same name from 1939, songwriter Johnny Marks wrote “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1949. Gene Autry was the first to record the Christmas song, as it climbed to the #1 spot on U.S. music charts. The story and song also spawned an iconic TV special from Rankin/Bass Productions in 1964.
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“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams
Recorded by Andy Williams in 1963, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has since become one of the most popular Christmas songs. In fact, it’s ranked in the top 10 most downloaded and aired songs during the holiday season since 2010. It’s also a favourite used in commercials each holiday season.
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“Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
Sitting on Santa’s lap is every kid’s dream. For the grown-up equivalent, songwriters Joan Javits and Philip Springer wrote “Santa Baby” in 1953 for Eartha Kitt. It’s a playful song that pokes fun at Santa Claus’ Christmas list with breathy and smoldering vocals. “Santa Baby” was a very big hit for Eartha Kitt with over 500,000 copies sold, which made it a certified Gold Record—and one of the best Christmas songs of all time.
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“Winter Wonderland” by Michael Bublé
Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith co-wrote “Winter Wonderland” in 1934. Since then, it’s been covered more than 200 times by popular recording artists, such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Kylie Minogue. However, one of the most popular versions of the song is from Michael Bublé, who recorded it in 2013. His version spent three weeks on the Billboard’s Adult Contemporary charts peaking at #26.
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“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” by Dean Martin
Although Ella Fitzgerald also recorded the song, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” was popularized by Dean Martin. Interestingly, songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote the song during a heatwave in July 1945. The pair imagined how they would cool down from the heat and wrote the song in the process.
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“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland
In 1944, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane co-wrote the Christmas song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” for Judy Garland for the film Meet Me In St. Louis. In 2004, the song was ranked #76 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs, while it was also ranked #3 on American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ (ASCAP) most performed Christmas songs.
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“Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes
Originally composed by Leroy Anderson in 1948, “Sleigh Ride” was popularized by The Ronettes in 1963. Almost every year since its release, it charts in the top 10 on the Billboard Holiday 100.
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“The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” by Nat King Cole
Commonly known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” was made famous by Nat King Cole in 1946. Co-written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells, this holiday classic was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.
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“O Holy Night” by Josh Groban
Composed by Adolphe Adam from a poem by a wine merchant in 1847, “O Holy Night” can trace its origins to France, where it’s known as “Cantique de Noël.” One of the most popular renditions of this classic carol is from Josh Groban, who recorded a version in 2002, which went to #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Singles chart.
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“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
Released in 1994, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has been the go-to Christmas song for more nearly 30 years. It became a new holiday standard and an instant hit peaking at #1 on the U.S. Holiday 100 during a 30-week stint. The song remains so popular that it regularly cracks the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 each December.
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“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
Written by Irving Berlin in 1942, “White Christmas” earns the coveted top spot on our countdown of the best Christmas songs ever. Crooner Bing Crosby popularized the song on his NBC radio show on Christmas Day, and the song quickly became the best-selling single of all time, selling more than 100-million copies around the world. It also book-ends the classic film of the same name, with Crosby first performing the song in front of the troops in war-torn Europe, with a reprise as the movie’s unforgettable grand finale.
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