The 50 best Christmas songs
Not all Christmas songs are totally naff. Forget the turkeys, here's our pick of the festive pops
As Noddy Holder once screeched dementedly – it's Christmas! This means mince pies, marathon TV-watching sessions and, yes, Christmas songs. Although you might hear some of the anthems below so many times that you'll want to want to perforate your eardrums with a candy cane – don't! You'll regret it later and, in musical terms, many festive pop songs are great works of art. If you really listen to our top 50 festive tunes you might just find your heart filling up with Christmas joy. Feel free to pilfer our playlist for your Christmas shindig too, it'll do lots to break the ice. And that's snow joke (sorry).
Written by Rachel Aroesti, Jonny Ensall, Danielle Goldstein, Sophie Harris, Oliver Keens, James Manning and Tom Slater.
Kanye West – Christmas in Harlem
This G.O.O.D. Music Christmas posse track serves up just about everything you’d expect from Kanye and Ko. Ye raps about unwrapping (removing the knickers from) his Christmas present, Jim Jones proposes we party till dawn and Big Sean says, well, not much at all. But with a slick soul-sampling beat from Hit Boy and bags of braggadocios' charm this is a head-bobbing holiday treat.
Stevie Wonder – What Christmas Means to Me
If you can’t be bothered to listen and find out, it turns out that singing carols, decorating the tree and, of course, being with his baby, is what Christmas means to Stevie. Still, you should listen anyway, because with that irresistible Motown swing and a harmonica solo thrown in this is (ahem) a cracker.
Bob Dylan – Must Be Santa
The 2009 release of Bob Dylan’s festive charity album, ‘Christmas In The Heart’, was somewhat puzzling. But the song and accompanying video for ‘It Must Be Santa’ proved that it was all just good fun for a good cause. A rip-roaring, bellows-pumping, call and response number, made all the more entertaining for hearing such gleeful lyrics sung in that trademark, 40-a-day snarl.
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
Leaving generations confused as to what exactly a 'sable' is (it's a fur coat, in case you're still wondering), Eartha sweetly serenades Santa in this 1953 comic Christmas classic.
Low – Just Like Christmas
Crammed full of sleigh bells and lyrically sparse it may be, but, somehow, indie rockers Low managed to do the unthinkable in 1999: create a genuinely cool Christmas song. 'Just Like Christmas' is a wistful, lo-fi, modern Christmas anthem.
Best Coast and Wavves – Got Something For You
This collaboration between surf poppers Best Coast and Wavves explains an important lesson about the power delayed gratification. Yes, like that John Lewis kid, you're desperate to give your presents as much as you are receive them, but if you hold out until Christmas morning that tin of Quality Street will taste all the sweeter. Channelling the jangly loved-up folk pop of Sonny and Cher, this song has a certain cutesy, coupley charm that’s difficult to resist.
Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmas Time
Good old Macca. Whereas Lennon could be relied upon to make impressive political statements (when he wasn't laying about in bed all day), McCartney is the master of the charmingly naive pop opus. This little ditty isn't going to shake up your festive paradigm, but it won't half stick in your head.
Bing Crosby and David Bowie – The Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth
This surreal encounter on Bing Crosby’s 42nd Christmas special between The Thin White Duke and the good ol’ boy of American family TV has become the stuff of legend. After Dave mistakes Bing for a butler and Bing jibes at Bowie’s music taste they launch into a medley of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Peace On Earth’. The result is... well... astounding.
The Sonics – Don’t Believe in Christmas
1960s garage rockers The Sonics have a festive temper tantrum, the cause of which is a serious lack of gifts. Indignant and self-righteous – this one is for all those who revert back to their childish ways come December 25th.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – Cold White Christmas
The subject of this piano ballad is a young graduate who decides to go and make it on her own, only to find herself in a dead-end job and a mouldy flat. But with too much pride to face her family, she ends up spending Christmas alone, counting bed bugs. Akin to ‘Fairytale of New York’, this is Christmas music at its most poignant from the Californian synth balladeer.