Recently, I posted my favorite fall/winter seasonal songs as I made the argument for separating seasonal and Christmas songs. For numerous reasons, Baby It’s Cold Outside, which is not even a Christmas song, will not be on this list. We can discuss it all you like, but I just don’t think it’s appropriate anymore. As I mentioned in the previous entry, I am curious to know in what year these songs were written, recorded, and released. Many of them are just flat-out timeless.
I, again, enjoy the original definitive version of these songs, and I really don’t care for any “new” Christmas music. I make one exception. Since we went early with the seasonal songs this year, we’ll post this now so you have plenty of time to get in the Christmas spirit.
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Brenda Lee recorded this song when she was all of 13 years old and it was released in 1958. I enjoy the rockabilly sound. One of the more popular Christmas tunes, it hit the Billboard charts more than once.
When I was a kid, I loved the Bob Hope Christmas specials, mainly to see the Playboy (later Associated Press) college football all-star team. I eventually learned about Hope and his efforts to entertain the troops. I also learned to appreciate Hope’s humor and his legacy. On every Christmas special, Hope would perform a duet of Silver Bells. The song was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and released in 1950.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It may as well be a Christmas anthem. Upbeat and festive, this song, made famous by numerous singers, heralds the arrival of the Christmas season. I couldn’t have this list without something from Mr. Christmas himself, Andy Williams. Williams made Christmas his own cottage industry in Branson, Missouri. He too was known for television Christmas specials.
This is my one exception when it comes to newer Christmas music. Colbie Caillat co-wrote this with Mikal Blue and Stacy Blue in 2007. I love this tune. I am a fan of Caillat’s music and this song has a story and a touch of melancholy to it that I really like.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Another Christmas anthem that rings in the season, this song was written in 1951 by Meredith Wilson. Numerous artists including Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, and more recently, Michael Bublé, have recorded versions of this classic. I’ll leave you with Bublé’s version. His Christmas album from a few years ago is a real treat.
Santa Claus and His Old Lady
When I was a disc jockey with Armed Forces Radio, we would start the season with one Christmas song an hour and build up the frequency as December 25 approached. I discovered Cheech and Chong’s Santa Claus and His Old Lady, played it for the first time and fell out of my chair. More spoken word performance than a song, it’s hilarious.
Christmas in Hollis
Okay, I lied. There’s another newer, original song I like. I grew up on hip hop music and one of the first groups of which I became a fan was Run DMC. And yes, they did a Christmas song. It has an infectious hook and a great beat. It’s different and a sign of the times, 1987 to be exact, the year I graduated high school.
Little Drummer Boy
I am not a big fan of this song, but Bing Crosby and David Bowie combined for an unexpected version of the song on Crosby’s last Christmas special, and I just had to include it. Katherine Kennicott Davis wrote the tune in 1940 and it was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951.
Carol of the Bells
The song that everyone sets their computerized outdoor light display to, and the only song of its kind that I like. Written by Mykola Leontovych and Peter J. Wilhousky in 1914, I prefer Trans Siberian Orchestra’s version.
The Christmas Song
Written in 1945 by Robert Wells and Mel Tormé (The Velvet Fog), this one has become an endearing Christmas classic. Covered by countless artists, this song evokes images of warm Christmas wishes. I prefer Nat King Cole’s version.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
I spent 10 years in the United States Navy and I spent many a Christmas away from home. I also traveled quite a bit for the profession I spent 20 years in, and missed a few Christmases working. This song hits home for numerous reasons. Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent in 1943, it was recorded by Bing Crosby the same year. I like Frank Sinatra’s version.
A Holly Jolly Christmas
I just had to have something from Burl Ives. Written by Johnny Marks in 1962 and included as part of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Ives recorded the definitive version. This is one of the more popular songs for current artists to cover.
I’ll end this list with what has become my favorite Christmas song. I don’t like musicals, and can’t stand them, but a few years ago I finally gave White Christmas a shot and I was hooked. The song, written by Irving Berlin, debuts in 1942’s Holiday Inn, but it became a staple when Bing Crosby’s hit musical of the same name took off in 1954. This is one of the most popular songs of all time. Here is Bing Crosby with Frank Sinatra.