Traditional hymns aside, Christmas pop songs are a staple in every home, store, and sometimes workplace during the month of December. Sure, there are about a million recordings of “Silent Night,” and nearly as many as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” But the ones that really get us moving are the modern pop songs; at least, those are some of my favorites. As I look forward to another season of festive listening, here’s a list of my top ten.
10. Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid (Also covered by Barenaked Ladies.)
Originally recorded in 1984 to aid famine relief in Ethopia, the lyrics of the song and the spirit within it capture the very essence of what Christmas means. Over forty popular artists came together to record the song, which became an instant hit. The story is great, the message is right on target, and the tune is catchy too.
9. All I Want for Christmas (Is You) – Mariah Carey
I’ll admit that I owned the Mariah Carey Merry Christmas cassette tape and played it in sixth grade until it broke. The beat and the sheer joy of this song is irresistible. In fact, the cover version sung in the movie Love, Actually is equally as good.
8. Christmas Wrapping – Waitresses (Also covered by Spice Girls.)
As a lover of all things Eighties, I have to give props to the Waitresses for capturing the decade’s sound in this fun, festive tune. The over-tired, over-worked heroine of the song needs a break for the holidays; can’t we all relate?
7. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
As Sir Paul puts it, “we’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime.” Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for. And when I listen to this song, with its lulling chorus, I instantly cheer up.
6. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Hearing this song instantly brings me back to that scene in Home Alone where Kevin fakes the Christmas party with mannequins on record players. This song just says “Christmas party” to me, so it’s always in the background at some point during my annual get together.
5. (Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man with the Bag – Kay Starr (Also covered by Lee Ann Womack, Vonda Shepard.)
Before this song was a Macy’s commercial, I thought it was catchy. After I heard it on the commercial, I loved it-the big band feel, the throaty voice of Kay Starr, the way it makes you want to go play in the snow. This song makes me feel like a little kid again.
4. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt (Also covered by Madonna.)
With this song, Eartha Kitt made Christmas sexy. Years later, Madonna brought it to a new level. Either recording is a classic, with its clever double entendres and borderline inappropriate suggestions about Santa’s (ahem) behavior. It’s hard not to love it.
3. Happy X Mas – John Lennon
Celebrating Christmas as a time of peace, Lennon was right on the money with this song. Sing along with Yoko and the children, but don’t miss out on the message.
2. Last Christmas – Wham!
Oh, a sad Christmas love story as only George Michael can deliver. With that fabulous beat behind it, you can easily forget what the song is about. It’s catchy, it’s fun, but most importantly, it has an uplifting message: “This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.” At least, in the end, he keeps a positive attitude, right?
1. Step Into Christmas – Elton John
Maybe I’m biased because I love Elton John, but even so, this song has true foot-tapping potential. And with an opening line like “Welcome to my Christmas song,” it does exactly what it says it will… invites you right into the holiday season.