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.
Bobby Helms – Jingle Bell Rock
Following its release in 1957 this rockabilly ditty topped the Christmas charts five years in a row, making it a veritable holiday classic even by the early ’60s. Today, it retains a towering presence in the Christmas canon, as synonymous with the holiday as tinsel and paper crowns.
The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick
Complete with the BBs’ trademark harmonies and inoffensive, boyish charm, this is a Christmas song for all ages to enjoy. Perhaps while decorating the tree in matching jumpers – an activity the lads seem to be revelling in on the cover of their classic Christmas album.
Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop
Nobody does haggard resilience quite like the Scots. On this heartstring-puller Frabbit's Scott Hutchison comments wryly on how all the fighting stops at Christmas time, only to recommence afterwards. Still, the high-spirited singalong 'woahs' of the chorus suggest there's hope for love in January and beyond. A modern classic.
TLC – Sleigh Ride
A million miles away from the cutesy jive of the Ronettes original, TLC’s 1993 cover is a sexy R&B slow jam. Along with their typically sultry harmonies, it has one of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes’ most fun-filled raps. Something to enjoy on Christmas Eve by the fire, with a glass of wine and your boo.
Bob Seger – Sock It to Me Santa
Even the shoutiest garage rockers give it up for St. Nick. A legend of Detroit's rock scene, Bob Seger penned this rough 'n' ready beauty in 1966. In part a tribute to Santa, it also shows love for another slightly portly and extravagantly-dressed man, James Brown (Seger knowingly incorporates JB's classic 'Papa's Got a Brand New Bag' in the chorus).
Sufjan Stevens – O Come O Come Emmanuel
No one does Christmas quite like our Sufjan. Not content with releasing a 42-track 'Songs For Christmas' album in 1996, this year he put out 'Silver & Gold' – a whopping 101-song collection celebrating Jesus's birthday. Picking a favourite out of his festive back catalogue is tough, but we rate 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' – a reworking of the traditional favourite on 'Songs For Christmas' – as our favourite track . Sparse and haunting, but also uplifting, it's a beautiful little call to rejoice.
Elton John – Step Into Christmas
A tribute to Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' according to Elton and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, 'Step Into Christmas' has proved to have at least some of the staying power of the super-producer, being covered by both The Wedding Present and The Puppini Sisters in recent years.
Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run
Recorded at the height of his powers, Chuck Berry rolls out his characteristic frenzied twelve-bar blues in reverence of everyone’s favourite reindeer. Despite not even managing to break the top fifty when it was first released, it has become an enduring holiday favourite and spawned plenty of covers.
The Ronettes – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
A kid catches mum playing away with jolly old St. Nick in this rather strange girl group number off the legendary Phil Spector-produced Christmas compilation, ‘A Christmas Gift For You’. The more you think about it, the more inappropriate the set up is. I mean, it seems to be more about serious marital problems than it does Christmas cheer. Still, it remains a Christmas classic nonetheless, and has been covered by everyone from The Jacksons to Amy Winehouse.
Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas
With an injection of sass and unabashed materialism, Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle turned a cosy old holiday favourite into a bumping, R&B Christmas carol for our times. A fine achievement.