Wanna guess what this post will be about?
Ha! Not cheese. Though I might write a cheese post someday, that day is not today. I asked one of my favorite bloggers to write a list of her favorite holiday tunes, because I love hearing what people listen to and what version moves them. Then I thought, why don’t *I* write one?
The problem, of course, is my OCD. Not including the CDs at my mom’s house, my iTunes holiday selection is over 200 songs. I’ve “condensed” them down to an ultimate selection, on one playlist. It is 94 songs.
I’m NOT going to do 94 songs, but it will be several. I’ll try to link to YouTube vids of the exact version, but in case I can’t, visit iTunes. Laid before you, in all its glory, are my favorite Christmas songs.
1. White Christmas. The Drifters. This is probably the most unusual song on the list, because it is a funked out version of a classic song. The original classic had always been one of my all-time favorites, yet somehow got bumped by the cover – so that should tell you how enjoyable this is.
2. I’ll Be Home For Christmas. Rascal Flatts. I’ll tell you the truth, I’m a huge country fan, but generally speaking, I don’t like country versions of Christmas songs, they just don’t mesh well. There are exceptions, and this is one. For one, these guys can actually sing. For two, they DO sing, this is an a capella version. A-MAZ-ING.
3. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy. Bing Crosby and David Bowie. The full version of this, complete with spoken intro, is my true favorite (and that is what I linked to), it makes me laugh before gearing up to an amazing medley/duet. Plus, I have an insane crush on Bing Crosby (especially weird as he died before I was born) and this is NOT the last time he’ll make my list.
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. Have you heard this? It’s fantastic. Cheery and upbeat, with a fresh, pop sound, but still Christmassy and traditional at the same time.
5. Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Tough one. The original is Dean Martin and Doris Day. It’s classic and timeless. Then a few years back, this little film called, Elf, introduced me to a fantastic new version featuring Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone. However, my favorite version is by the country band, Lady Antebellum. Incredible. I know, that’s two country versions in the top five.
6. O Holy Night. John Tesh and the Choirs of Christmas. This is an unusual ranking, because this is my all-time favorite Christmas song. But, I am not ranking songs, I’m ranking versions. This is my favorite version of this song. I know it’s John Tesh, but the choir singing just makes this one. (Youtube doesn’t have this one, but you can preview it on iTunes).
7. Christmas Canon. Trans Siberian Orchestra (henceforth referred to as TSO). TSO is one of the ultimates of Christmas music. This is a variation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, jazzed up for the holidays, I love it.
8. Christmas Eve Sarajevo. TSO. See? I told you they’d come up again. For years, this was my Christmas ringtone. I still kind of miss it, though I do enjoy my new one. But this is just a classic holiday sound, if you listen, I promise you’ll recognize it, even if you didn’t know what it was called. (Also, the video is one of those Christmas lights set to music videos, pretty cool if you’ve never seen one.)
9. Thanksgiving. George Winston. Yes, it’s called Thanksgiving. No, it isn’t really a Christmas song, but I listen to it on Thanksgiving and it kicks off the holiday season for me. It is an original piano composition and it is starkly beautiful.
I actually started this post last year, in 2011. I never got around to finishing it in time for it to matter for the holidays, so I held onto it for this year. Above this edit it is exactly as I began it one year ago. Including that awesome cheese joke. I didn’t change a thing. ***
10. Silent Night. Boyz II Men. There is an a capella version of this song that I am in love with. Aside from the cheesiness of this band, they can actually sing. They harmonize beautifully.
11. Belleau Wood. Garth Brooks. Another country song! But not really. This is a touching song about WWII and it makes me cry every time.
12. White Christmas. Bing Crosby. Because, well, that voice. It’s classic.
13. The Night Before Christmas. Carly Simon. This is a beautiful and not that well-known of a song. I just love it and Carly’s voice is perfect for it. This is the original.
14. A Snowflake Fell (and it Felt Like a Kiss). Glasvegas. Easily the weirdest song on the list. It was a free download I got years ago, back when Starbucks still did that. They are a Scottish band, and sound it. It’s an original song, and it makes me so happy to hear it. (Also, kind of surprised that this is on YouTube, but John Tesh is not).
15. O Holy Night. Collin Raye. I struggled to limit the number of times this song appeared on the list. A non-country country version of my favorite holiday song.
16. Same Old Lang Syne. Dan Folgelberg. This isn’t really a Christmas song, but for some reason they only play it around the holidays. It’s a great story song, kind of sad, but still very sweet. And it somehow feels Christmassy to me. Perhaps after including on my playlist year after year.
17. Carol of the Bells. John Tesh. This is a pretty awesome album, to be honest. But it is only of the only versions of this song I’ve found where they sing all the words, correctly. (Youtube doesn’t have this one either, but you can preview it on iTunes – The “A Family Christmas” version).
18. O Come All Ye Faithful. Nat King Cole. List wouldn’t be complete without him, right? When I was a kid, I used to try to memorize all the verses of Christmas carols in church. This one was harder because it is often sung in Latin. This version, NKC sings the first verse only, but once in English and once in Latin. It’s awesome.
19. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Judy Garland. In keeping with my traditional songs and versions, I’ll plunk this down here. It’s a quintessential Christmas song. I can’t sing like her, but I always sing along. When I’m alone.
20. Sleigh Ride. Johnny Mathis. This song is so upbeat and happy. I like to sing it because there are so many words and verses and it’s just fun. The classic version.
21. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. Burl Ives. Another classic. This one opens the legendary Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special that’s been on since the 60’s. I watch it year after year and this song always brings me to that moment. (Video is from the movie)
22. Happy Xmas/The War is Over. John Lennon. I enjoy this holiday song, when I don’t think too hard about the politics behind it. I’m not a fan of mixing those concepts together, but this song endures and is pleasing anyway.
23. Silent Night. Josh Groban. I had to limit my versions of this song as well. I have dozens, literally. But this one is beautiful. This man’s voice is custom made for Christmas Carols.
24. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm. Dean Martin. Another lesser known holiday tune, but it’s peppy and cheerful, with the smooth stylings of Deano, how can you really go wrong?
25. Please Come Home For Christmas. The Eagles. I was so torn here. Bon Jovi did a cover of this song and it’s pretty similar and equally great. But, since it was so tough to decide, I went with the original version.
Okay, there you go. My top 25 favorite versions of Christmas songs. It’s pretty diverse, ranging from instrumental to rock to country to Motown, but I like that. It is pretty representative of my music during the rest of the year as well. Hopefully you found at least one new gem to listen to this holiday season.
Stay tuned for my favorite Christmas movies and books!