Watch the playlist on YouTube:
- “Merry Christmas Baby,” Otis Redding
From the moment I first heard it in 1992, I knew all others would pale in comparison. I had no idea Christmas songs could sound like this. (Here’s my blog post about this song.)
- “What Christmas Means to Me,” Stevie Wonder
It’s just so… happy. The bass line is happy, the vocals are bursting with joy and when the key changes it just turns the happy up another notch.
- “Make It Home,” Juliana Hatfield
It’s not even technically a song explicitly about Christmas, but it’s on a Christmas compilation and the bridge melody “borrows” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.” (Here’s my blog post about this one.)
- “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Darlene Love
You’ll notice three of my top four are pretty happy songs. Sometimes it’s because it’s Christmas and I’m happy, sometimes it’s because it’s Christmas and I need to be cheered up.
- “Christmas Day,” Sponge
The other side of the coin… the not so happy Christmas song. Oddly, I first fell in love with this song in my 20s, when Christmas was nothing but happy. I just loved the slow burn and, really, I’ve always felt there was something hopeful in that jangly chorus riff.
- “All I Want for Christmas is You,” Mariah Carey
Honestly, I love her whole Christmas album. I’ve always felt like if she sang with the passion she showed singing Christmas songs on everything she sang, she’d have the respect of a lot more people outside of “pop music” fans.
- “Christmas,” The Posies
An angsty Christmas in Boston. I love Boston. And I could listen to that “Keep telling me” part forever. That sweet, pristine female voice that comes out of nowhere.
- “Jingle Bells,” Brian Setzer Orchestra (Instrumental)
All I want for Christmas is a cranked up Gretsch and a honkin’ horn section.
- “Backdoor Santa,” Clarence Carter
What? It’s just a wholesome 60s R&B Christmas song. Why are you reading all that filth into the lyrics? You must have a dirty mind.
- “Last Christmas,” Wham!
Yes, it’s everywhere. Yes, it’s been covered by a million people and I like the Jimmy Eat World version. But you can’t beat the 80s that oozes off of this. That shiny, gooey 80s.
- “I Did It for the Toys,” Dance Hall Crashers
In which jolly old Saint Nick is accused of pedophilia and of stalking the female protagonist, who pops him in the head with a matzo ball despite openly admitting she’s only using him to get at his toys. Gotta love Christmas!
- “Little Saint Nick,” The Beach Boys
Christmas + Beach Boys harmonies = Bliss
- “Run Run Rudolph,” Chuck Berry
It’s basically “Johnny B. Goode” with Christmas lyrics. Got a problem with that?