Rockin’ Around The Tree: The best Christmas songs of all time
By Anne-Marie Lyons | Nov 22 2018Tis’ the season to be jolly and blast Christmas music to annoy all the Grinches in your life! Whether your go-to is the classic ‘Fairytale of New York’ or the underrated Coldplay ‘Christmas Lights’, Christmas music is sure to warm even the hardest of hearts. Here’s a definitive list of the top ten best Christmas songs to do just that.
No other Christmas song quite brings the joy that the first few chords of this classic does. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl tell the story of a couple who have fallen on hard times, and the loss of their youth and their ruined dreams. Although not the most joyous of Christmas songs, over twenty-five years after its release it still remains the Christmas song of this generation.
- The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
The skinny legend herself released this instant hit way back in 1994. The bell-chimes and up-tempo beat caused The New Yorker to proclaim this song “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon”. A Christmas standard that continues to define the season, ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ is sure to be on your Spotify playlist this Christmas. A song that was played continuously after the passing of Wham!’s front-man George Michael on Christmas Day in 2016, this heart-breaking track looks on the brighter side of life after a break-up. Wham! released this classic back in 1984 and donated all royalties to the Ethiopian Famine. However, the British duo missed out on the coveted Christmas Number One spot thanks to Bob Geldof.
- Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas is You
Geldof, alongside Midge Ure (not mature) penned this classic in 1984, in reaction to the Ethiopian famine occurring at the time. He put together the super-group Band Aid, containing mainly British and Irish musical acts of the time. With such publicity, the song took the Number One Christmas spot and is recognised as one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. Geldof has produced three other versions of the song, all of which enjoyed chart success.
- Band Aid - Do They Know it’s Christmas?
In 2011, Justin Bieber decided to cash in on his heartthrob image and release a Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe. Although many saw the album as a joke, the lead single went on to become an instant hit. Critics across the world even complimented Bieber on his ability to create an all-year round festive track, “the subtle wintry holiday chimes in the backing track make it obvious this is a seasonal release, but it will not be jarring when included on a standard pop playlist”.
- Justin Bieber - Mistletoe
This is an underrated Christmas song that not many include in their Christmas playlist. However, this mid-tempo number is perfect to get you in the mood for the festive season. The song charts the argumentative relationship of a husband and wife and how when the Christmas lights surround them their anger subsides and they’re filled with that contagious holiday spirit. This tongue-in-cheek Christmas song has been knocking around since 1953, in which a woman recites her extravagant Christmas list to Santa Claus. The song has had many variations, most notably by Kylie Minogue, and is sure to get you in the festive spirit.
- Coldplay - Christmas Lights
This is often an unheard of Christmas single, but one of the greatest. Penned by Ed Sheeran and sung by the 2016 champion of The X Factor, Matt Terry, the song had success written all over it. However, the song about lost love failed to make an impact on the charts, but deserves to be listened to this Christmas season.
- Matt Terry - When Christmas Comes Around
The original Beatles member released this Christmas classic in 1971 to great acclaim. The song was released in protest of the Vietnam War and has since become a Christmas standard, frequently covered by other artists, most notably Celine Dion.
- John Lennon and Yoko Ono - Happy Xmas (War is Over)
This song, originally written by Irving Berlin in 1942, reminisces about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. The version sung by Bing Crosby has resonated globally since its release. The song went on to appear in two of Crosby’s films: Holiday Inn and White Christmas. The song had an unlikely connection to World War II: “In the song’s melancholic yearning for Christmas past, listeners heard the expression of their own nostalgia for peacetime”. Indeed, this astonished Berlin, and many others, and this song of peace and love soon became a most unlikely war anthem.
- Bing Crosby - White Christmas