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From Classic To Country To Pop, These Christmas Songs Have Every Mood Covered


by Shannon Fiedler and Kinsey Gidick
Originally Published: 

I'm that person who will listen to Christmas carols in July, and who plays nothing but holiday radio starting the day after Thanksgiving. While I love Christmas itself, it's the season that really does it for me: walking among the decorations, watching holiday specials, the sense of good cheer, and of course, the music.

Now, creating a Christmas song playlist is no easy feat. You have to include the appropriate mix of classic crooners and modern covers. You need the right combination of reverent hymns and upbeat pop songs. You need to represent all of major carols and also include a few less mainstream tunes to round it out. It's hard work.

But you're busy! You've got shopping, baking, and wrapping to do, and how can you possibly have time to create the perfect playlist for your holiday listening? Well, as a self-proclaimed Christmas carols connoisseur, I'm here to help. I've curated what I think is a pretty solid playlist that includes the old, the new, the fun, the spiritual, and of course, Mariah Carey.


Classic Christmas Songs

When we say classic Christmas songs, we’re talking about the tunes that have held a place in the hearts of mankind for generations. That means everything from John Mason Neale’s 1853 song “Good King Wenceslas” about a 10th century Bohemian king Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, to the hymn “Silent Night.” Each of these has been sung in churches or by carolers for nearly as long as Christmas has been celebrated and for good reason, because they’re classics.

  • “O Holy Night” by Placide Cappeau
  • “Silent Night” by Franz Xaver Gruber with lyrics by Joseph Mohr
  • “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley
  • “O Come All Ye Faithful”
  • “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by James MacMillan
  • “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Phillips Brooks
  • “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts
  • “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”
  • “Away in a Manger” by Jonathan E. Spilman
  • “The Holly and the Ivy”
  • “Carol of the Bells” by Mykola Leontovych
  • “Good King Wenceslas”


Best Christmas Songs for Kids

Kids love singing along to Christmas music, but there are a few tunes that anecdotal experience proves they love most of all. One stars a certain group of vocal Chipmunks. The other includes lyrics about the hope for a hippopotamus. The others, well, can you guess?

  • “Jingle Bells” by James Pierpont
  • “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson
  • “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)” by Ross Bagdasarian
  • “I wanna hippopotamus for Christmas” by John Rox
  • “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Randy Brooks
  • “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots
  • “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Robert L. May
  • “Frosty the Snowman” by Gene Autry, Steve Nelson, and Walter E. Rollins
  • "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"


Traditional Christmas Music

Perhaps you prefer your holiday tunes to not be hymns or carols but traditional holiday hits. You know, Bing Crosby crooning to you about a white Christmas? Or Rat Pack favorites? Or perhaps jazz sirens like Ella Fitzgerald singing about having yourself a merry little Christmas are more your speed. These are the best Christmas songs for that playlist.

  • "White Christmas," by Bing Crosby
  • "A Marshmallow World," by Dean Martin
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” by Ella Fitzgerald
  • “Spirit of Christmas,” by Ray Charles
  • "Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth," Bing Crosby and David Bowie
  • "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," Frank Sinatra
  • "Let It Snow," Michael Bublé
  • "Baby It's Cold Outside," Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer
  • "Feliz Navidad," Jose Feliciano
  • "Christmastime Is Here," Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • "The Christmas Song," Nat King Cole


Best Pop Christmas Music

These days, having a holiday album is essentially a pop star requirement. There are dozens of takes on all the holiday classics by every Top 40 artist you can imagine. But only the best of the best endure and make it on our playlists year after year. These are some of the best Christmas songs you can’t help but play on repeat.

  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
  • “Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
  • “White Christmas” by The Drifters
  • “Glittery” by Kacey Musgraves
  • “Snowy Day” by Boyz II Men
  • "Underneath the Tree" by Kelly Clarkson
  • "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" by Bruce Springsteen
  • “What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder
  • “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys
  • “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
  • “Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry
  • “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love

Ready for a kitchen dance party? Tell Alexa to please play these great songs and you’ll be ready to pop into the New Year in style.

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