After I finished the list of Religious Christmas Carols last week, I knew I needed to do one for regular Christmas songs. But it’s so hard! I eventually got down to 97 and then to 47, and then I hit such a wall! I was able to cheat just a little bit with a top ten list of funny Christmas parody songs, but then the real work began. Finally, I had my twenty. Sadly, that leaves so many worthy ones out, but I think you’ll agree the resulting list is pretty nang. Enjoy.
Honorable Mention: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year; Do They Know It's Christmas?; Feliz Navidad; Let There Be Peace on Earth; Mele Kalikimaka; Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree; Up On the House Top; We Need a Little Christmas; (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays; Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane); (It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus; The Christmas Waltz; Toyland; Silver Bells: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas; Blue Christmas: A Holly Jolly Christmas
Before I get to the actual list, I found two awesome songs I never even heard before! If I do the list next year, they probably make it. Have you heard of “Santa Claus is Back in Town”? Here is a video of Elvis singing it. Then I found “Sleep Well, Little Children,” a Christmas lullaby to die for. Here is Karen Carpenter’s version. (It’s about 90 seconds in, and worth it. Trust me.) Tell me you won’t sing that next year to your kids.
The Top Twenty Christmas Songs (non-religious)
#18 Evening in December – This is a fantastic “romantic” fireplace type of Christmas song that no one seems to know. All the videos I could find sucked, but you can listen to it here.
#17 Frosty the Snowman – You did read my version of it over on Tracy’s site, right? Even more than the crappy animated special, that will be the defining moment of the legend. (By the way: my mother is obsessed with snowman; has over 2700 in the house, but not one of them is Frosty. Weird, huh?)
#16 Jingle Bell Rock – We need more “_____Rock” songs. Think of “Arbor Day Rock,” or “Halloween Rock” or even “Black History Month Rock.” Now THAT would be sweet.
#15 Santa Baby – No lie: last year I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to write lyrics for an ill-fated “Santa Pirate.” I got hung up when everyone said that “So shiver up me timbers tonight.” What’s dirty about that???
#13 I’ll Be Home For Christmas – is there a better version of this than Karen Carpenter’s? I say no.
#12 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – if only because this is the only major song where the “Fates” get to decide what happens. I like that. I think this should come up more often. “The Super Bowl will be Feb. 2, if the Fates allow.” Who’s with me?
#11 Last Christmas – So, sue me. I like Wham, and I like this song! By the way, proof the song rocks: I HATE the Chipmunks, yet they totally rock doing their best Wham impression. (Ashley Tisdale: You got owned!)
#8 All I Want for Christmas is You – My brother claims the Mariah Carey version is the best, but I like one in Love Actually. However, since Carey is credited with writing the song, we'll let the clip be hers. Techincally, it's her singing. The pix are actually a tribute to Johnny Depp. Never say I give you nothing, ladies!
#6 Santa Claus is Coming to Town – I wrote an entire column dissecting this song, but I still love it love it love it.
#5 Christmas Time is Here – Otherwise known as “The Charlie Brown Christmas Song.” You know, that slow jazzy one. I don’t know why I love this one so much, and I admit I probably have it way over-ranked, but it just gets to me, you know? Another one of those more melancholy songs with a hint of sadness.
#4 Jingle Bells – Did you know this was originally a Thanksgiving song? Sing it in your head right now, and you’ll see there’s nary a mention of Christmas. I know! I think Jingle Bells gets extra points for the much loved “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg; Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker got away!” I read over that now and cannot figure out why it was so funny, but trust me: this KILLED in third grade.
#3 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Another beloved song to actually sing, with the extra add-ons like the echoes. (Although: I always grew up singing the other Reindeer games as “like football,” but recently heard my sister sing it as “like Monopoly.” I think we need to settle this debate. In fact, I just set it up over on Monkey Barn if you are to weigh in.) Rudolph also inspired a very vulgar parody (Randolph the Three-Legged Cowboy), and possibly the worst Christmas movie (at least until CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS) came out: OLIVE, THE OTHER REINDEER. I shudder just thinking about it.
#2 The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) – Perhaps the best Christmas song ever. It’s just so perfect. There are chestnuts roasting on the open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and so forth. The song is slow and sultry, romantic in that “fireside” kind of way, and just a perfect song to listen to while relaxing in front of the tree with some cocoa.
And the number 1 non-religious Christmas Song….
#1 White Christmas – What can we say? There’s a reason you’re the best-selling song of all time. Irving Berlin wrote it in 1940, staying at a hotel in Arizona. He stayed up all night, and the next day told his secretary, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written – hell, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!” Modesty aside, Mr. Berlin is quite possibly right. (You owe it to yourself to read the short history of the song on Wikipedia. Look at all the groups who have recorded it, from Otis Redding to Bette Midler to Stiff Little Fingers to New Kids on the Block. Amazing.) The clip above isn't the best rendition ever (it's from the movie), but I include it for two reasons: You haven't lived until you see that chick's waist. I know! Also, remember that Danny Kaye was the most well known gay actor of the time (at least in Hollywood; it was still a secret to America). See if that doesn't change how you view the clip. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!