From john Fahey, the Sonics and also the Waitresses come Slade, Wizzard and also Mariah Carey, us count down the best festive numbers

50. John Fahey

The first Noel

Tiring of the reality that no one want to purchase albums of experimental American primitive etc music, however they to buy White Christmas every year, john Fahey videotaped an album the Christmas instrumentals. It was, by a margin, his bestselling record. Patent of his work, yet beautiful.

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49. The Sonics

Don’t believe in Christmas

The Sonics believed some folks liked the taste of right strychnine, for this reason of course they didn’t believe in Christmas. What happened when they stayed up late to shot to record a glimpse of Santa? “Well, sure enough, don’t ya know / The fat young didn’t show.” Cheeky so-and-sos.

48. Emmy the an excellent & Tim Wheeler

Christmas work (I Wish ns Was Surfing)

Sounding much more like Ash than Emmy the an excellent – and the loudest, most raucous point on your 2011 Christmas album – this is a track that sound joyous, yet is really about the desire come escape, to everywhere that isn’t cold. So lengthy as it’s no alone.

47. Small Joey Farr

Rock’n’Roll Christmas

Rock’n’roll and rockabilly are a sweetheart trove that Christmas novelty numbers (try Marlene Paula’s I desire To spend Xmas v Elvis), but we’ve only acquired room because that one. So, provided Christmas is all about the kids, bless your souls, let’s have a tune by one actual child who timeless disappeared indigenous the pop world.

46. Lou Rawls

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town

One imagines this would be the soundtrack come Don Draper’s Christmas – together creamy together eggnog, through a supple swing it is nagging however not unobtrusive, it’s specifically the sound of an idealised Christmas native the 60s. Rawls make a ton that Christmas albums, yet his first from 1967 is the best.

45. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright

God remainder Ye merry Gentlemen

How would certainly Christmas sound reimagined by black Sabbath? practically exactly together you would imagine, to it is in honest. The most oddly foreboding of all the big Christmas songs suits the grinding and also roaring. And it helps, naturally, the it includes a reference to “Satan’s power”.

44. Saint Etienne

I to be Born on Christmas Day

From fire and brimstone come prosecco and chocolate, bursting with positive outlook for the winter: “Getting groovy after Halloween / Mid-November, got back on the step / i’m so glad that i just gained my pay / ns was born ~ above Christmas Day!” A track as sweet as a an option box.

43. The free Design

Close your Mouth (It’s Christmas)

Probably the song that goes on in Don Draper’s apartment ~ Lou Rawls, when the hip young kids have arrived. “Get to recognize the people in her house,” castle sing. “You could like them.” Draper knocks earlier a whisky, raises one eyebrow and also shakes his head.

42. Sally Shapiro

Anorak Christmas

A gorgeous bauble indigenous the mid-00s wave of Scandinavian music the crossed electropop through the feyest indie. Sally falls in love ~ above a Tuesday before Christmas, “at a gig v a tape that we both liked”. However will she finish up by herself “or in the perfect kiss”?

41. Solomon Burke

Presents for Christmas

The king of rock’n’soul pitches self somewhere in between a revivalist preacher and also Santa Claus: “We want to offer out a current to everyone this Christmas! All roughly the people for every man, woman, boy and girl!” the exclaims in the intro. Among the couple of artists whose spoken sections consistently rival the song (track under a copy of spirit Alive! if girlfriend don’t think me).

40. Pleasure Zipper

Christmas Song

Blank-faced and affectless, this is Christmas for the shoegazers indigenous the duo summary toasted at the begin of the last decade. Kevin Shields and David Holmes produced, and also you deserve to bet Beach house were listening.

39. Neil Halstead

The male in the Santa Suit

Truthfully, this version is just here because the Fountains that Wayne original – an homage come the Kinks’ dad Christmas – isn’t on Spotify. But what a perfect, sad song: “And he is a big red cherry / yet it’s difficult to be merry / once the children are all laughing / Saying: ‘Hey, that Jerry Garcia.’”

38. The Everly Brothers

Christmas Eve have the right to Kill You

The man in the Santa suit is a laughfest contrasted to this Everly brothers number from 1972, around a hitcher alone the night prior to Christmas. Organ and also pedal steel sound choose the wind whistling through the trees as our hero trudges on: “The sound that one guy walkin’ v the snow deserve to break her heart.”

37. Santo & Johnny

Twistin’ Bells

Do we need cheering up? ns think us do. Give thanks to goodness, then, because that the twangy guitars that Brooklyn duo Santo & Johnny, the gaudy, overlit shop home window that contrasts with the stark loneliness that the Everly Brothers.

36. Run-DMC

Christmas in Hollis

Hip-hop hasn’t to be a huge source of Christmas songs, however Run-DMC to be on optimal of it back in the an initial golden age. What would certainly you carry out if you found Santa’s wallet top top Hollis Avenue? it’s a perennial question. Run decides its finest to short article it back; that is rewarded because that his honesty.

35. Shirley & Dolly Collins

The Gower Wassail

Two the the biggest British folk voices incorporate for a drinking tune that, if we’re honest, is i can not qualify to it is in ringing the end in pubs this Christmas. The asceticism that the British individual tradition deserve to be a beneficial astringent amid the sleigh bells and also tinsel.

34. Tracey Thorn

Snow in Sun

Originally from Scritti Politti’s sublime 2006 album White Bread, black Beer and reworked by thorn on her gorgeous album Tinsel and Lights – i beg your pardon is enough to qualified it together a Christmas track – below is a featherlight breath the winter come freshen her face.

33. Mahalia Jackson

Go Tell it on the Mountain

You can not really have Christmas there is no acknowledging that someone far-ranging was born on 25 December – and also not just Bob Stanley that Saint Etienne. The queen of gospel desires you to spread the news far and wide, and also she imparts her article with early out gravitas.

32. Big Star

Jesus Christ

Big Star’s third is the least likely album to contain a Christmas song, however amid the desperation and despair to be this large burst that fervour. Walk Alex Chilton typical it? was it a joke? Its result is amplified by the music the surrounds the on the remainder of the album.

31. Calexico

Green grow the Holly

Gorgeous and also stern, and undoubtedly the finest adaptation by one Americana band of any poem created by Henry VIII. The horns bloom, favor the flower of the song, turning something indisputably English right into a desert lament.

30. Jimmy McGriff

Winter Wonderland

McGriff opens up with a squall of body organ that doesn’t command you to think Christmas is coming anytime soon, then takes Winter Wonderland at together a leisurely pace that that takes a minute to recognise it. (If you favor this, shot Jimmy Smith’s Christmas ’64 as well.)

29. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects

When you live in poverty, certain logistical problems concerned mind. Namely, if she in a big public real estate block, how does Santa gain the gift underneath the tree? A fabulous enhancement to the long line the socially conscious soul and funk Christmas music.

28. Boy of Heaven

When to be Jesus Born?

We all understand the answer, however when that posed this beautifully, in together impeccable close harmony, the obviousness of the question deserve to be forgiven. There are countless versions of this, yet it’s a hard song to perform anything however beautifully.

27. Thea Gilmore

Listen, the eye Is Falling

Yoko Ono’s is the initial version and Galaxie 500’s rendition is much more celebrated, however Thea Gilmore it s okay the perfect ratio of iciness come wonder – the sounds favor a Christmas tree, if together a point were possible. The 2009 album strange Communion is highly recommended.

26. The Temptations

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Oh, wrap you yourself in the blanket of those glorious voices! Motown took Christmas seriously, through the result that you can probably do this list totally from Motown tracks. This one it s okay selected since what is really a fairly dismal tune is revolutionized by a perfect arrangement.

25. Clarence Carter

Back Door Santa

Pure Christmas filth. Back Door Santa can “make every the little girls happy / when the boys space out come play.” yet don’t mistake him for Father Christmas: “I ain’t like old Saint Nick / He nothing come yet once a year.” I challenge you not to dance, though.

24. Ramones

Danny Says

Merry Christmas (I Don’t want to hit Tonight) is much better known together a Ramones Christmas song, yet the sublime Danny says gets the nod, qualifying top top the grounds that the desperate, lonely band are stuck ~ above the roadway deep in winter and also “it ain’t Christmas if over there ain’t no snow”.

23. Cristina

Things loss Apart

No issue how negative your Christmas is, it’s no as negative as Cristina’s. Psychic you, provided it’s the beforehand 80s brand-new York art underground, she was most likely forbidden indigenous liking something therefore bourgeois. Also a party can’t cheer her: “I recorded a cab back to my flat / and also wept a bit and fed the cat.”

22. Joni Mitchell


Joni Mitchell is bereft, too, on this gorgeous piano ballad, as soon as Christmas simply makes she mourn she relationship and also flee Laurel Canyon because that her house in Canada, wherein there can be a frozen flow she might skate away on, far from everything.

21. David Banner

The Christmas Song

Completing the mini-run that joyless Christmases, this is the many joyless of all – as soon as the only means to pay for Christmas is come rob and also deal and also kill. The climactic “jingle bells, solder bells, jingle all the way” is not intended as reason for celebration.

20. Lindstrøm

Little Drummer Boy

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm takes almost 43 minutes to rally a Christmas track – from electronic squiggles, with the martial drumbeat, come the melody comes in in ~ eight minutes. It then spends a further 25 minutes warping and also mutating, choose up and discarding music phrases, before exploding orgasmically in its last 10 minute or so.

19. Wilhelm Bell

Every Day will Be a Holiday

It no actually cite Christmas, but gets counted – and not just by me – together a Christmas song since of the little horn lift from solder Bells, because that it being around being lonely waiting for his baby to come home (presumably for Christmas), and also because the B-side was you re welcome Come residence For Christmas. It’s additionally a fabulous piece of Stax soul.

18. Belle and also Sebastian

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

On the 2000 charity album it’s a Cool Cool Christmas – which was pretty strong – Belle and Sebastian took on the most beautiful of every the Christmas hymns. Something so fragile suited them. Additionally recommended: El Vez merging Feliz Navidad and Public Image.

17. The Staple Singers

Who take it the Merry the end of Christmas?

The staple Singers space worried: too plenty of wars, also much space exploration method people room “searching because that light and also can’t seem to discover the right star”. Jesus isn’t just another baby boy, castle warn. So show some respect. Glorious.

16. The Watersons

Sound, Sound Your instruments of Joy

Just listen to the voices: this is Christmas together it must have actually sounded when it to be a religious festival in the depth of winter, rather than an excuse come rack up debt. Do your very own fun! possibly weave an activity Man out of three pieces of straw! and yet it’s for this reason beautiful.

15. Eartha Kitt

Santa Baby

We’re right into the start of the big songs now, and Eartha Kitt’s contribution is the specific opposite of the Watersons’ vision that Christmas. She wants a sable, a convertible, a yacht, a platinum mine … She wants every sensation. And also what’s Jesus got to carry out with anything?

14. Otis Redding

White Christmas

Who knew the most well known Christmas fight of all might be for this reason emotionally wrought? wherein Bing crossby sounded as if he was fondly pondering his Christmas, Otis sounds prefer he’s breaking into a sweat make the efforts to will it into existence with sheer pressure of desire.

13. The Pretenders

2000 Miles

Sometimes an easy is best: Robbie McIntosh’s etc playing on the Pretenders’ 1984 hit is a design of folk-rock restraint, taking from the Byrds, and offsetting Chrissie Hynde’s voice and lyric through a feeling that everything, somehow, is walk to it is in OK.

12. Bob Seger and also the critical Heard

Sock It to Me Santa

“Santa’s obtained a brand new bag!” hollers Bob Seger, who was a Detroit R&B shouter years before he became a heartland American beard rocker. Amount say It come Me Santa is a fabulous explosion – garage rock and soul carried together right into something made for the finest bar in the city on Christmas Eve.

11. Wham!

Last Christmas

A big Christmas hit that was unlike previous UK seasonal singles – it wasn’t wrapped in sleigh bells, there was nothing consciously novelty around it. Perhaps George Michael had actually been paying close fist to several of the great US Christmas soul singles, due to the fact that this to be a heartbreak track that just happened come be set in December.

10. Darlene Love

Christmas (Baby you re welcome Come Home)

A Christmas Gift come You from Phil Spector encode the sound the Christmas: maximal, filled through signifiers of the season (there is nowhere sleigh bells can’t be draped). Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby you re welcome Come Home) was the standout on a record on which the quality didn’t drop from begin to finish.

9. Wizzard

I great It can Be Christmas Everyday

Roy Wood’s enduring donation to the season fan a huge debt to Phil Spector – there’s practically certainly a kitchen sink section at job-related somewhere in the mix – yet it transcends imitation by its slim verve. That was tape-recorded in summer, v the studio air air conditioning turned down to do everyone feeling wintry. Fist to detail, best there.

8. Slade

Merry Xmas Everybody

Christmas 1973 carried not simply Wizzard however the many enduring of all British Christmas singles. Forty-six year later, world still bellow “It’s CHRISTMAS!” in Noddy Holder’s face, which, apparently, it s okay a tiny wearisome. The totality thing to be Jim Lea’s mum’s idea – why no Slade have actually a tune they can release every year? She gained her wish.

7. Donny Hathaway

This Christmas

It wasn’t a hit at the time, but took off when it was included on a 1991 reissue of the 1968 Atco compilation soul Christmas. Come which you deserve to only say: why walk it take the world so lengthy to notice? that a Christmas tune that stands up nevertheless of the season. And according to the publishing human body Ascap, it’s currently the 30th many performed Christmas track of all time in the US.

6. Tom Waits

Christmas card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Probably not one come play as soon as you’re unwrapping the presents. A character examine that begins grimly, then supplies hope, as the narrator claims things space getting far better – prior to ripping the rug far without ceremony. Perform you want to know the fact of it, she asks: “Charley, hey, I’ll be eligible for parole come Valentine’s day.”

5. Marvin Gaye

Purple Snowflakes

A tune so beautiful it’s virtually otherworldly – Marvin Gaye’s flawless falsetto, the unforeseen chord changes, the sense of mystery. However it’s wrapped up in the many comforting that Christmas imagery – chestnuts roasting, blankets of white – without ever explaining why the snowflakes space purple.

4. The Waitresses

Christmas Wrapping

Like Cristina’s Things autumn Apart, Christmas wrapping was originally written because that the Zé label’s 1981 compilation – the most punching-above-its-weight Christmas comp ever. That a fabulous present of consciousness, throughout which Patty Donahue speak herself indigenous wanting to miss out on Christmas to discovering she can’t miss Christmas, the bursts right into joy at its horn refrain.

3. Low

Just like Christmas

Low’s 1999 Christmas EP – released together a “gift” to fans – was among the many unexpected seasonal delights: ascetic indie tape embracing the season there is no irony. Its command track to be a joy, the uncomfortable of touring reminding them of when they to be young, and also it feeling as with Christmas. Simply two verses, and also a repetitive refrain – perfect.

2. The Pogues

Fairytale of new York

There’s almost nothing left to be said around Fairytale of new York, a track that has been impossible to avoid for an ext than 30 years. Such is the stamin of the songwriting and also the grace of the performance that, despite the overexposure, the feels fresh every solitary time. That a scrappy folk-punk band created something that will certainly endure as lengthy as Christmas chin is a genuine Christmas miracle.

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1. Mariah Carey

All I desire for Christmas Is You


The ideal Christmas songs must only job-related at Christmas. They have to make you feeling festive, in the same way that the 174th repeat of The Snowman does. They should work anywhere – in purchase centres, in bars, pumping the end of PAs in gig venues after the band has actually gone off, top top the radio in a cafe, in your home or on your headphones. All I desire for Christmas Is girlfriend is all of those things. That a shameless pastiche of Phil Spector that’s so brazen and also joyful and simple – it took Carey and Walter Afanasieff only 15 minutes to create – the it transcends its lack of originality. It’s the rare modern Christmas track that has become a standard, and deservedly so.