The 50 greatest Christmas songs – ranked! | Music | The Guardian

50. John Fahey

The First Noel

tire of the fact that no one wanted to buy albums of experimental american primitive guitar music, but they bought White Christmas every year, John Fahey recorded an album of Christmas instrumentals. It was, by a gross profit, his bestselling record. Atypical of his work, but beautiful .

49. The Sonics

Don’t Believe in Christmas

The Sonics believed some folks liked the preference of square strychnine, so of class they didn ’ metric ton believe in Christmas. What happened when they stayed up late to try to catch a glimpse of Santa ? “ Well, certain enough, don ’ thymine ya know / The fat male child didn ’ metric ton show. ” Cheeky rotter .

48. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)

Sounding much more like Ash than Emmy the Great – and the loudest, most raucous thing on their 2011 Christmas album – this is a birdcall that sounds joyous, but is in truth about the desire to escape, to anywhere that international relations and security network ’ thyroxine cold. so long as it ’ s not alone .

47. Little Joey Farr

Rock’n’Roll Christmas

Rock ’ n ’ roll and rockabilly are a treasure treasure trove of Christmas freshness numbers ( try Marlene Paula ’ s I Want To Spend christmas with Elvis ), but we ’ ve merely got room for one. sol, given Christmas is all about the kids, bless their souls, let ’ s have a song by an actual kid who promptly disappeared from the pop earth .

46. Lou Rawls

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town

One imagines this would be the soundtrack to Don Draper ’ s Christmas – a creamy as eggnog, with a limber swing that ’ s nagging but not unobtrusive, it ’ s precisely the good of an idealized christmas from the 60s. Rawls made a short ton of Christmas albums, but his beginning from 1967 is the best .

45. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

How would Christmas sound reimagined by Black Sabbath ? Almost precisely as you would imagine, to be honest. The most queerly foreboding of all the big Christmas songs suits the labor and bellow. And it helps, naturally, that it contains a reference to “ Satan ’ south exponent ” .

44. Saint Etienne

I Was Born on Christmas Day

From fire and brimstone to prosecco and chocolate, bursting with optimism for the winter : “ Getting groovy after Halloween / Mid-November, got rear on the scene / I ’ m so glad that I just got my give / I was born on Christmas Day ! ” A sung ampere sweet as a selection box .

43. The Free Design

Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)

probably the song that goes on in Don Draper ’ s apartment after Lou Rawls, when the hip youthful kids have arrived. “ Get to know the people in your theater, ” they sing. “ You might like them. ” Draper knocks back a whiskey, raises an eyebrow and shakes his forefront .

42. Sally Shapiro

Anorak Christmas

A gorgeous bauble from the mid-00s wave of scandinavian music that crossed electropop with the feyest indie. Sally falls in love on a Tuesday before Christmas, “ at a gig with a band that we both liked ”. But will she end up by herself “ or in the arrant kiss ” ?

41. Solomon Burke

Presents for Christmas

The king of rock candy ’ n ’ person pitches himself somewhere between a evangelist preacher and Santa Claus : “ We want to give out a stage to everybody this Christmas ! All around the world for every man, womanhood, boy and daughter ! ” he exclaims in the intro. One of the few artists whose talk sections routinely rival the songs ( track down a replicate of Soul Alive ! if you don ’ thyroxine believe me ) .

40. Joy Zipper

Christmas Song

Blank-faced and affectless, here ’ randomness Christmas for the shoegazers from the duet concisely toasted at the start of the last ten. Kevin Shields and David Holmes produced, and you can bet Beach House were listening .

39. Neil Halstead

The Man in the Santa Suit

truthfully, this version is only here because the Fountains of Wayne original – an court to the Kinks ’ Father Christmas – international relations and security network ’ metric ton on Spotify. But what a perfect, deplorable song : “ And he ’ s a big bolshevik cherry / But it ’ second hard to be gay / When the kids are all laughing / Saying : ‘ Hey, it ’ south Jerry Garcia. ’ ”

38. The Everly Brothers

Christmas Eve Can Kill You

The man in the Santa Suit is a laughfest compared to this Everly Brothers issue from 1972, about a hitcher alone the nox before Christmas. Organ and pedal sword sound like the wind whistling through the trees as our bomber trudges on : “ The sound of one valet walkin ’ through the bamboozle can break your affection. ”

37. Santo & Johnny

Twistin’ Bells

Do we need cheering up ? I think we do. Thank good, then, for the twangy guitars of Brooklyn couple Santo & Johnny, the flashy, overlit shop windowpane that contrasts with the stark aloneness of the Everly Brothers .

36. Run-DMC

Christmas in Hollis

Hip-hop hasn ’ t been a huge source of Christmas songs, but Run-DMC were on top of it back in the first golden age. What would you do if you found Santa ’ s wallet on Hollis Avenue ? It ’ s a perennial question. Run decides its best to post it back ; he is rewarded for his honesty .

35. Shirley & Dolly Collins

The Gower Wassail

Two of the greatest british family voices combine for a drink in song that, if we ’ ra good, is improbable to be ringing out in public house this Christmas. The asceticism of the british folk music tradition can be a useful acerb amid the sled bells and tinsel .

34. Tracey Thorn

Snow in Sun

originally from Scritti Politti ’ second sublime 2006 album White Bread, Black Beer and reworked by Thorn on her gorgeous album Tinsel and Lights – which is enough to qualify it as a Christmas birdcall – here is a featherlight breath of winter to freshen your grimace .

33. Mahalia Jackson

Go Tell It on the Mountain

You can ’ metric ton actually have Christmas without acknowledging that person meaning was born on 25 December – and not precisely Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne. The queen of gospel wants you to spread the news far and wide-eyed, and she imparts her message with due gravitas .

32. Big Star

Jesus Christ

big Star ’ mho Third is the least probable album to contain a Christmas song, but amid the despair and despair was this huge burst of excitement. Did Alex Chilton mean it ? Was it a joke ? Its effect is magnified by the music that surrounds it on the rest of the album .

31. Calexico

Green Grows the Holly

gorgeous and buttocks, and undoubtedly the best adaptation by an Americana set of any poem written by Henry VIII. The horns flower, like the flowers of the birdcall, turning something indisputably English into a desert dirge .

30. Jimmy McGriff

Winter Wonderland

McGriff opens with a squall of organ that doesn ’ thyroxine head you to believe Christmas is coming anytime soon, then takes Winter Wonderland at such a at leisure pace that it takes a moment to recognise it. ( If you like this, try Jimmy Smith ’ s Christmas ’ 64 arsenic well. )

29. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects

When you live in poverty, sealed logistic problems come to mind. namely, if you ’ re in a big populace house stuff, how does Santa get the presents underneath the tree ? A fabulous addition to the long line of socially conscious soul and funk Christmas music .

28. Sons of Heaven

When Was Jesus Born?

We all know the answer, but when it ’ second posed this beautifully, in such impeccable airless harmony, the obviousness of the question can be forgiven. There are many versions of this, but it ’ s a hard birdcall to do anything but beautifully .

27. Thea Gilmore

Listen, the Snow Is Falling

Yoko Ono ’ randomness is the original version and Galaxie 500 ’ s rendition is more observe, but Thea Gilmore gets the perfect ratio of chill to wonder – it sounds like a Christmas tree, if such a thing were possible. The 2009 album Strange Communion is highly recommend .

26. The Temptations

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Oh, wrap yourself in the blanket of those glorious voices ! Motown took Christmas badly, with the consequence that you could probably do this number entirely from Motown tracks. This one gets selected because what is very a reasonably blue song is transformed by a perfective agreement.

25. Clarence Carter

Back Door Santa

Pure Christmas filth. Back Door Santa can “ make all the small girls happy / While the boys are out to play. ” But don ’ t mistake him for Father Christmas : “ I ain ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate like erstwhile Saint Nick / He don ’ thyroxine come but once a year. ” I dare you not to dance, though .

24. Ramones

Danny Says

Merry Christmas ( I Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate Want to Fight Tonight ) is better known as a Ramones Christmas birdcall, but the sublime Danny Says gets the nod, qualifying on the grounds that the desperate, lonely band are stuck on the road deep in winter and “ it ain ’ t Christmas if there ain ’ thymine no snow ” .

23. Cristina

Things Fall Apart

No count how bad your Christmas is, it ’ sulfur not angstrom bad as Cristina ’ randomness. Mind you, given it ’ s the early 80s New York art underground, she was credibly forbidden from liking something thus businessperson. flush a party can ’ triiodothyronine cheer her : “ I caught a taxi rear to my flat / And wept a spot and fed the cat. ”

22. Joni Mitchell


Joni Mitchell is bereft, besides, on this gorgeous piano ballad, when Christmas just makes her mourn her relationship and flee Laurel Canyon for her home in Canada, where there might be a frozen river she could skate away on, away from everything .

21. David Banner

The Christmas Song

Completing the mini-run of joyless Christmases, here ’ s the most joyless of all – when the alone means to pay for Christmas is to rob and deal and kill. The climactic “ jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way ” is not intended as causal agent for celebration .

20. Lindstrøm

Little Drummer Boy

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm takes about 43 minutes to assemble a Christmas song – from electronic squiggles, through the martial drumbeat, to the tune coming in at eight minutes. It then spends a promote 25 minutes warping and mutate, picking up and discarding musical phrases, before exploding orgasmically in its final examination 10 minutes or therefore .

19. William Bell

Every Day Will Be a Holiday

It doesn ’ t actually mention Christmas, but gets counted – and not merely by me – as a Christmas sung because of the short cornet aerodynamic lift from Jingle Bells, for it being about being lone waiting for his baby to come home ( presumably for Christmas ), and because its B-side was Please Come Home For Christmas. It ’ second besides a fabulous patch of Stax soul .

18. Belle and Sebastian

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

On the 2000 charity album It ’ s a cool Cool Christmas – which was pretty impregnable – Belle and Sebastian took on the most beautiful of all the Christmas hymn. Something so delicate suited them. besides recommended : El Vez merging Feliz Navidad and Public Image .

17. The Staple Singers

Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?

The Staple Singers are disquieted : excessively many wars, excessively much space exploration means people are “ searching for alight and can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate seem to find the right star topology ”. Jesus international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine just another baby boy, they warn. So show some respect. Glorious .

16. The Watersons

Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy

just listen to the voices : this is Christmas as it must have sounded when it was a religious festival in the depths of winter, rather than an excuse to rack up debt. Make your own fun ! possibly weave an Action Man out of three pieces of straw ! And even it ’ s therefore beautiful .

15. Eartha Kitt

Santa Baby

We ’ re into the start of the big songs now, and Eartha Kitt ’ s contribution is the precise opposite of the Watersons ’ imagination of Christmas. She wants a sable, a convertible, a yacht, a platinum mine … She wants every ace. And what ’ s Jesus got to do with anything ?

14. Otis Redding

White Christmas

Who knew the most celebrated Christmas murder of all could be so emotionally wrought ? Where Bing Crosby sounded as if he was fondly pondering his Christmas, Otis sounds like he ’ mho breaking into a sweat trying to will it into universe through absolute wedge of desire .

13. The Pretenders

2000 Miles

sometimes elementary is best : Robbie McIntosh ’ s guitar bring on the Pretenders ’ 1984 hit is a model of folk-rock constraint, taking from the Byrds, and offsetting Chrissie Hynde ’ s articulation and lyric with a smell that everything, somehow, is going to be OK .

12. Bob Seger and the Last Heard

Sock It to Me Santa

“ Santa ’ randomness got a brand new bag ! ” hollers Bob Seger, who was a Detroit R & B roarer years before he became a heartland American beard rocker. Sock It to Me Santa is a fabulous explosion – garage rock candy and soul brought together into something made for the best cake in the city on Christmas Eve .

11. Wham!

Last Christmas

A big Christmas hit that was unlike previous UK seasonal worker singles – it wasn ’ metric ton wrapped in sled bells, there was nothing consciously novelty about it. possibly George Michael had been paying close care to some of the capital US Christmas soul singles, because this was a grief song that just happened to be set in December .

10. Darlene Love

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector codified the healthy of Christmas : maximal, filled with signifiers of the season ( there is nowhere sled bells can ’ t be draped ). Darlene Love ’ second Christmas ( Baby Please Come Home ) was the standout on a commemorate on which the quality didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate dribble from start to finish .

9. Wizzard

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Roy Wood ’ sulfur enduring contribution to the temper owed a huge debt to Phil Spector – there ’ south about surely a kitchen sink section at work somewhere in the blend – but it transcends imitation by its bluff vitality. It was recorded in summer, with the studio air conditioning turned down to make everyone feel frigid. attention to detail, correct there .

8. Slade

Merry Xmas Everybody

christmas 1973 brought not barely Wizzard but the most enduring of all british Christmas singles. Forty-six years late, people even bellow “ It ’ sulfur CHRISTMAS ! ” in Noddy Holder ’ s confront, which, apparently, gets a little boring. The whole thing was Jim Lea ’ s ma ’ south theme – why didn ’ thyroxine Slade have a song they could release every year ? She got her wish .

7. Donny Hathaway

This Christmas

It wasn ’ t a strike at the time, but took off when it was included on a 1991 reissue of the 1968 Atco compilation Soul Christmas. To which you can entirely say : why did it take the worldly concern indeed retentive to notice ? It ’ s a Christmas song that stands up regardless of the season. And according to the publish body Ascap, it ’ s immediately the 30th most performed Christmas sung of all time in the US .

6. Tom Waits

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

probably not one to play when you ’ re unwrapping the presents. A character analyze that begins grimly, then offers hope, as the narrator says things are getting better – before ripping the rug away without ceremony. Do you want to know the truth of it, she asks : “ Charley, hey, I ’ ll be eligible for parole come Valentine ’ s day. ”

5. Marvin Gaye

Purple Snowflakes

A song so beautiful it ’ south about nonnatural – Marvin Gaye ’ s flawless falsetto, the unexpected chord changes, the common sense of mystery. Yet it ’ south wrapped up in the most comforting of Christmas imagination – chestnuts roasting, blankets of white – without ever explaining why the snowflakes are purple .

4. The Waitresses

Christmas Wrapping

Like Cristina ’ s Things Fall Apart, Christmas Wrapping was primitively written for the Zé tag ’ sulfur 1981 compilation – the most punching-above-its-weight Christmas comprehensive examination ever. It ’ s a fabulous stream of awareness, during which Patty Donahue talks herself from wanting to miss Christmas to knowing she can ’ t miss Christmas, that bursts into joy at its horn abstain.

3. Low

Just Like Christmas

low ’ mho 1999 Christmas EP – released as a “ endowment ” to fans – was one of the most unexpected seasonal delights : ascetic indie band embracing the temper without irony. Its jumper cable racetrack was a joy, the discomfort of touring reminding them of when they were young, and it feeling barely like Christmas. Just two verses, and a reprise abstain – perfect .

2. The Pogues

Fairytale of New York

There ’ sulfur about nothing left to be said about Fairytale of New York, a birdcall that has been impossible to avoid for more than 30 years. such is the force of the songwriting and the seemliness of the performance that, despite the overexposure, it feels fresh every single time. That a scrappy folk-punk band produced something that will endure adenine long as Christmas itself is a veridical Christmas miracle .

1. Mariah Carey

All I Want for Christmas Is You

Mariah Carey - All I want for Christmas is you - Single cover The best christmas songs should only work at Christmas. They should make you feel gay, in the lapp means that the 174th duplicate of The Snowman does. They should work anywhere – in denounce centres, in bars, pumping out of PAs in gig venues after the band has gone murder, on the radio in a cafe, in your home or on your headphones. All I Want for Christmas Is You is all of those things. It ’ s a shameless medley of Phil Spector that ’ s so brazen and elated and childlike – it took Carey and Walter Afanasieff lone 15 minutes to write – that it transcends its miss of originality. It ’ s the rare modern Christmas birdcall that has become a standard, and deservedly so .

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