The 21 Best Songs for Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

We all complain about the repetition of certain Christmas songs every year. Either that or how early on we start to hear them.

Only those in the service and retail industries understand the true horror of the Christmas song. Just imagine, going into work each morning for a month to be faced with the same half hour loop of songs over and over.

We have collected 21 songs that would make the best possible loop to suffer to. These songs are covered endlessly, so the artists listed performed the objectively best versions of each respective song.

21. ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ – Andy Williams (1963)

Stressing about your Christmas shopping? Fed up of the gloomy weather? Worried about perfecting that Christmas dinner? Well don’t be! Andy Williams is here with his signature happy yet relaxed voice to remind you that it’s the best time of year.

20. ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ – Various (1700s)

It would be difficult not to include this song with how well known it is, but also too easy with how frustrating it is to remember all of the gifts included in its lyrics. Not to mention repeating the same annoying lyrical and rhythmical pattern 12 times over.

19. ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ – Slade (1973)

With thanks to the inclusion of downloads in the UK Singles chart, this yearly annoyance has been in the December charts every year since 2007. Aside from being Slade’s frontman, you may best remember Noddy Holder for the many adverts he’s appeared in, most notably for Nobby’s Nuts.

18. ‘Power of Love’ – Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984)

Yes, this had a November release. Yes, there are zero references to Christmas in its lyrics. But no, it’s still a Christmas song. Surely having the nativity in its accompanying video is enough is it not? It’s shown on our TVs at this time every year too, so shut up.

17. ‘It’s beginning to look a Lot like Christmas’ – Johnny Mathis (1986)

This song probably becomes relevant around November these days. That’s when the adverts start playing, when trees in shopping centres go up and when listicles like this one are posted and read by the likes of you. Fun fact: Perry Como’s version from 1951 was the most popular version until Jonny Mathis’s appeared in Home Alone 2.

16. ‘Don’t Shoot Me Santa’ – The Killers (2011)

One of The Killers ten annual Christmas singles and most definitely their best. Many of us forget the sheer terror that can be involved with believing a being from faraway loves us but still judges and possibly even punishes us nevertheless. I mean Santa of course. The Killers capture this feeling perfectly as a kid who himself is a killer begs Santa to spare him his life.

15. ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ – Paul McCartney (1979)

There’s nothing but happiness to be found in Macca’s best known crack at a Christmas song. It’s not exactly his most profoundly composed track, but it is fun nonetheless. Other songs of his receiving airplay around about now will be ‘Pipes of Peace’ and his ridiculous collaboration with the Frog Chorus, ‘We All Stand Together’.

14. Joy to the World – Isaac Watts (1719)

The original Christmas hit, Isaac Watt’s take on the Bible’s Psalm 98 is the all-time most-published Christmas hymn in North America. No matter your beliefs, this ode to a higher power and all aspects of nature is truly magnificent and inspiring.

13. ‘Rockin Around the Christmas Tree’ – Brenda Lee (1958)

A classic of the early rock & roll period, Brenda Lee went on to achieve 47 US chart hits in the 60s. Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Ray Charles had more. The song’s writer, Johnny Marks, also penned other holiday favourites such as ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’.

12. ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ – Greg Lake (1975)

Something of a protest song, its dismal but powerful lyrics offer anything but an ideal outlook on Chrimbo. To the artist’s surprise, it was massively popular upon its release but understandably lost the position of Christmas number one to Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, released at the same time.

11. ‘A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss)’ – Glasvegas (2008)

The only addition to the list from one of Scotland’s own, Glaswegian indie rockers released this much overlooked gem as part of an EP shortly after their debut album. Definitely worth a place in your playlist if you want a tune that hits closer to home, in terms of sound and feel.

10. ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ – Darlene Love (1963)

Alongside Phil Spector’s signature masterfully crafted and booming production techniques, Darlene Love offers among the greatest vocal and emotional performances on any Christmas song recorded to date. Give it a listen.

9. ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ – Mariah Carey (1994)

Christmas and birthdays are the two times of year when friends and family ask us what material possessions we desire most. Anyone who has ever had butterflies in their stomach will relate with the gist of this song. Sometimes the only thing in the world we want is that special someone.

8. ‘Last Christmas’ – Wham! (1984)

But sometimes it doesn’t work out with that special someone. You’ll inevitably compare each Christmas to the one that came before hoping this one will be better (or at least just as good). There can be implications for that when not everyone who was there last year is present this year, as we can hear in George Michael’s lyrics.

7. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens (1985)

This is certainly the season for love and understanding. Too often do we forget that, but our favourite Welsh former-milkman is always somewhere in the December charts to save the day. It hit number one the year it was released, being Shaky’s last track in that position.

6. ‘White Christmas’ – Bing Crosby (1942)

The original version first recorded by Crosby in under 18 minutes, it went on to become the best-selling single of all time according to Guinness World Records. Selling over 100 million copies, white Christmas brings up ancient picturesque memories of the ideal winter scene. It was one of the first Christmas records to be successful and secular in nature.

5. ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ – Wizzard (1973)

Beaten to number one in 1973 by its evil twin, Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, Wizzard’s legacy track has aged better. It’s probably just as easy to make jibes at this song as Slade’s for a lack of artistry, but Wizzard’s chorus alone will remain on badges, jumpers, cards and wrapping paper for time immemorial.

4. ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ – John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1971)

Unlike his pal Paul’s entry on this list, John Lennon’s isn’t lacking any of the iconoclasm or succinct lyricism expected from the Beatles. Plus, if we were to suddenly decide to stop shooting and bombing each other Christmas is as good a time as any.

3. Silent Night – Joseph Mohr (1816)

Translated from German to around 140 languages, this carol is a lulling retelling of base story behind why our society has come to celebrate Christmas. Its words have witnessed many tender moments as they have been sung, but one worthy of mentioning is when the opposing British and German soldiers joined together in song amidst the trenches of WW1. But I’m sure you know that from Sainsbury’s 2014 Christmas advert.

2. ‘Fairytale of New York’ – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl (1988)

You’ll find this as number one on most lists and compilations of Christmas songs and it’s no wonder why. Rarely in pop culture do we see two lovers quarrel so harshly as Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl’s characters do in this song, but that’s why we all love it so much. Its lyrics are a classic example of being in the gutter but looking at the stars.

1. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ – Band Aid (1984)

As well as being a great song anyway, the reason this is the greatest Christmas song of all time is the visible scale of positive change it has had on the world. Originally written by Bob Geldof and performed by the largest acts of its town to support those affected by the 1983-85 famine in Ethiopia, our world of today would benefit from something of a similar vein. The migrant crisis comes to mind.

Author: Callum Bell

Glaswegian student journalist

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