I am not a Scrooge at heart and I don’t go around saying “Bah Humbug” (because that would be completely weird 1840’s guy), and in (guiding) light of the list I published yesterday of the 10 Worst Christmas Songs ever, my heart grew 3 times its normal size (FYI – that’s a Grinch reference) and I decided to share my list of the 10 best Christmas songs.
Will they be the same as your list? Unlikely.
Will there be some on here that you would have on your list? Probably
Are there some on here that deserve a second (thousandth) chance? Definitely.
Mr. Snow Miser – Mr. Heat Miser
The Year without a Santa Claus
Yet another stop motion Christmas special – The Year without a Santa Claus had a few songs that a fairly memorable and the characters where a refreshing change from Rudolph and Frosty (BurgerMeister MeisterBurger? Anyone?) Mickey Rooney singing “Put One Foot in front of the Other” was a favorite in my house growing up but other than being in a Christmas show, there isn’t anything Christmas-y about it. Listening to Mr. Snow Miser singing about how he’s “Mr. 10 below” … never gets old.
Angels We have Heard on High
Josh Groban duet with Bryan McKnight
Trying to find a modern-day Christmas song that doesn’t make me want to throw egg nog in your face is a tall order – but this is a really good version. Both Josh Groban and Bryan McKnight are talented singers and they deliver this song pretty straight up – something the modernist in me appreciates.
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
This the one of the most recognized Christmas songs in existence (according to some sources, it is the most performed Christmas song of all time). Written in 40 minutes by Mel Torme (a.k.a. ‘The Velvet Fog’ when he was 19 years old) and Bob Wells, this song truly defines the atmosphere of Christmas in a very visceral way that people just about anywhere can appreciate.
Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy
The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
A Christmas tradition for many families – The Nutcracker Suite – and in particular Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – has come to represent the imminent arrival of Christmas. Tchaikovsky featured the use of a celeste (an instrument he described as a cross between a piano and a glockenspiel) and the result was that its sound has become synonymous with this particular song.
That’s right, he ruined using the celeste for everyone else.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
I am a big fan of Frank Sinatra and he delivers this song wonderfully. There are times when the choral singers in the back get on my nerves but it’s never enough to make me reach for a hot poker. The song was originally written with much more depressing lyrics – the advice was to have a merry Christmas because it may be your last. Kind of dark for a Christmas song – I’m glad they made the change.
Would you be surprised to learn that this is the top-selling Christmas song of all time? I wasn’t surprised either. Irving Berlin wrote the song one night and when his secretary came in the next morning, he told her “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”
White Christmas also won an Oscar in 1942 for Best Song … can you think of another Christmas song worthy of winning an Oscar?
Run Rudolph Run
What can I say? I am a Chuck Berry fan and I like this song. It doesn’t fit the mold of any other Christmas song that I care to listen to … my wife gave me an eye roll when I told her I put this song on my list.
Guilty pleasure. This song drives 99% of the people I polled crazy but if I’m being completely open with you, I simply can’t hear this song without singing along … and I have no idea what the words mean. Okay, I have some idea, and the more egg nog I drink, the more likely I am to sing this song.
Except I don’t drink egg nog, that’s some nasty stuff.
Christmas Time is Here
Vince Guaraldi Trio
Maybe it’s because I am as old as I am, but when I was a kid, watching a Charlie Brown special was the highlight of any week. Jazz musician Vince Guaraldi wrote the music for 17 Charlie Brown specials (including Linus and Lucy – a song that just about anybody over the age of 15 is familiar). The Charlie Brown Christmas Special and “Christmas Time is Here” will forever bring me back to the Christmas Eve’s of my youth.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
First off let me say that all the best Christmas songs don’t have any singing in them … that’s a bold statement but it’s true. I thought this list would be a little boring if all the songs were brass ensemble renditions of the 25 classic Christmas carol songs but I thought about doing it anyways. There is something to be said about listening to the classics without having a bunch of unnecessary embellishments layered on top and while this song isn’t the most feel good song on the list, I do think it is the prettiest.
So did I nail it? If you’re me I did.
Feel free to recommend your favorite in the unlikely chance that it isn’t already on this list. Happy yule-logging.