Top 25 Songs of Christmas


220px-a-fresh-aire-christmas-coverMannheim Steamroller – “Cantique de Noel (O Holy Night)” – (1988)

“O Holy Night” was composed in 1847 in France as music to match a poem. It was all written to be performed in a church, making it one of what seems like only a handful of Christmas carols that are actually allowed to be played in church (sorry, Mariah Carey). Even if this version is a little new-agey, it still gets the point across and is instantly recognizable.

r-3519121-1412977518-7113-jpegGene Autry – “Frosty the Snowman” – (1950)

He didn’t write it, but Gene Autry was the first to record it and made it famous. It was a top ten hit around Christmas of 1950 and would later be made into an animated TV program (though Jimmy Durante sang this song there). If you like the idea of a mid-century Christmas like I do, then this is a must-have song.

bingBing Crosby – “Silent Night, Holy Night” – (1935)

I think Bing Crosby recorded this like every few years, because there are a number of different versions out there, with this being the earliest (but not necessarily the best). When it comes to Christmas standards, Bingle is hard to beat.

220px-mrhankeyschrismasclassicscoverTrey Parker – “Merry Fucking Christmas” – (1999)

Probably one of the most offensive Christmas songs of all time, but then again it is from an album called “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.” I’ll admit, I don’t watch South Park and haven’t seen an episode in a long time, but I have seen the Mr. Hankey episode. You might not like it, but this song is actually very funny.

Steve Martin – “A Holiday Wish” – (1986)

This was an SNL sketch back in the 1980s where Steve Martin just sits in front of the camera telling us his five Christmas wishes. And it’s hilarious. It works as just audio too, because you can see his mannerisms just by hearing his voice. The wishes start sweet, but quickly descend into madness. Classic Steve Martin.

500x500Bob Rivers – “I’ll Be Stoned for Christmas” – (2002)

Bob Rivers does some pretty convincing parody songs and this take on Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is among the best. It says that it is supposed to be a drunken Perry Como impression, which might be accurate, but Bingle owned this song originally.

220px-Single_Gene_Autry-Rudolph,_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer_coverGene Autry – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – (1949)

Gene Autry made a career off of novelty records. Sure, he was the singing cowboy but his Christmas songs are what stood the test of time. Autry didn’t write this song (it was written in 1939) but his version is what made it a song sung in every household. In fact, this song was a #1 hit. Interestingly, this was the only #1 hit to fall completely off the charts from the top spot – a dubious honor, but understandable considering its content and timeliness. Merry Christmas. 

R-4488498-1366321031-4796.jpegBing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – “Mele Kalikimaka” – (1950)

You don’t have to Hawaiian to appreciate this song. Bing is crooning in his classic style and The Andrews Sisters are great too. It really takes you back to this era when Hawaii was still sort of a new phenomenon. But this song is perfect for any Christmas when you’re under palm trees and near an ocean. Many people have since recorded this but this version remains the best. 

41zwtweOpeL._SL500_SY300_Da Yoopers – “Rusty Chevrolet” – (1987)

Radio stations used to play this. Nothing quite says “The Midwest” like a parody Christmas song sung in a heavy Northern Michigan accent. Nothing also says “The Midwest” like saying: I remember how hilarious this was when I was younger and it’s one of those parodies that kids pick up on and find hilarious to sing in place of the real version of “Jingle Bells.”

220px-A-Fresh-Aire-Christmas-CoverMannheim Steamroller – “Hark! The Herald Trumpets Sing” – (1988)

Yes, this sounds like church music. It’s the opening track to Mannheim Steamroller’s 1988 Fresh Aire Christmas – one of the best-selling Holiday albums of all time. This is little more than a prelude to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

BBXmasCoverThe Beach Boys – “Frosty the Snowman” – (1964)

Gotta love the Beach Boys. They were able to define summer and winter. There are many version of this song, but this is among the best. Why? Because of those vocals! Plus, Christmas music from the 1950s and 1960s is just better. There’s no denying that. And like every Beach Boys song, this song is short – coming in under two minutes.

220px-Home_For_Christmas_-_Amy_GrantAmy Grant feat. The Children’s Choir & The London Studio Orchestras – “The Night Before Christmas” – (1992)

This song, written by Carly Simon, isn’t exactly one you hear on the radio but it’s one I’ve heard a thousand times. The choirs in the background add a nice effect – even though it’s all kids… whose parents probably spent any royalties that came their way. Yay, exploit children for Christmas.

51FyVVE-ZtL._QL70_Sean Morey – Dear Santa – 2002

If “The Bob and Tom Show” isn’t aired in your market, they’re a morning radio show that’s really popular in the Midwest. And they have a whole bunch of classic clips. This one is from comedian Sean Morey singing about what kids all around the world ask Santa for and how Americans ask for ridiculous things and everyone else just wants heat and food (or weaponry).

Foxworthy_crankupJeff Foxworthy – Redneck 12 Days of Christmas – 1996

Jeff Foxworthy was a comedy sensation in the 1990s. He could’ve put “redneck” on anything and made a boatload of money. One thing I like about this song is that it was written by the late comedian Tim Wilson, who was a really funny guy. This song was so golden that it charted on the Hot Country Singles chart five consecutive Christmases – in the top 40 each year, peaking at #18 the winter of ’95/’96. Pretty impressive.

41EA4MJE5NLBob Rivers – Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire – 2000

It’s Christmas time again and we’ll start off our annual Christmas song list with a few spoofs. Some people find them lame but this one is so well done it’s hard not to like. It’s a great, slow, Nat King Cole-style and it takes on David Seville’s classic Christmas song. It’s pretty good.

Bob Rivers – “Police Stop My Car” – (1997)

Okay, last comedy Christmas song, I promise. This really isn’t much of a Christmas song at all, which is okay, since Christmas has passed and in this world, Christmas starts at Halloween and ends at midnight the day after Christmas. Anyway, it’s a pretty good spoof of “Feliz Navidad” – but about DUI checkpoints… which sounds insane if you were trying to tell someone about it… which is why you should just listen to it.

The Beach Boys – “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” – (1964)

If you love vocal harmonies, then you better love the Beach Boys. This album is soooo good, this song being among the best on it. It has classic Beach Boys harmony but it also has a very 1960s Las Vegas feel to it with light backing brass for most of the song, punctuated by big brass hits here and there. It you want a nostalgic take on an already classic Christmas tune, then this is your song.

Vanessa Williams & Bobby Caldwell – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – (1996)

From the first Christmas album by Vanessa Williams comes what has to be the “rape-iest” Christmas song ever. Sorry if that’s a little harsh, but the lyrics of this song are pretty creepy: “Say, what’s in this drink?” It’s all about a girl trying to leave and go home and a guy trying to convince her to stay because it’s cold outside. Ulterior motives? Perhaps. If you don’t listen too closely, it’s a really nice song and this is the second-best version that I know of, after Dean Martin’s, of course.

Amy Grant – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – (1992)

This song, originally recorded by Judy Garland for Meet Me in St. Louis, has been covered by numerous artists, some quite successfully. It’s a Christmas standard and Amy Grant’s version from her hugely-selling Christmas album is pretty well done.

Bob Rivers Comedy Corp – “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” – (1988)

We featured two songs from Bob Rivers last week. But this is his most famous work. It works the same way as the traditional “12 Days of Christmas” but it’s about the least fun aspects of the holiday season. The best part is that as the song goes, each time a pain is repeated, it’s done so in a less pleasant way until the final climax where it’s just mostly people screaming. This song received regular Christmastime radio airplay in the U.S. for much of the 1990s and beyond. I haven’t heard it in years, but it’ll slip in here and there.

Jeff Foxworthy – “Twas the Night After Christmas” – (1996)

Jeff Foxworthy was one of the most popular comedians of the 1990s. His “You might be a redneck” bit made him a huge star. And in 1996 he released an album called Crank it Up: The Music Album and it contained two Christmas songs. This one is more of a spoken-word song to music. It rhymes… he’s essentially reading the redneck version of the classic Christmas poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Of course, it ends in shooting reindeer for sport, but what did you expect?

Bob Rivers Comedy Corp. – “Yellow Snow! Yellow Snow! Yellow Snow!” – (1997)

Bob Rivers is really good at parody songs. This is obviously a parody of the classic “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” but it’s about dogs doing their business in the snow. I do like the lyrics “he’s a frisky little pooch Van Gogh.”

Trey Parker – “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” – (1999)

If you haven’t caught on, this week I’m featuring the most juvenile of all the Christmas songs I’ve got. Then don’t come stranger than this, I promise. The Mr. Hankey episode of South Park was actually from the series’ first season and it remains one its most classic and well-known episodes. Trust me, like most of the show, this song is hilarious if you’re 12. Anyway, I promise less toilet humor next week. Christmas songs don’t get weirder than this.

Bob Rivers – “What if Eminem Did Jingle Bells?” – (2002)

We try and feature a few Christmas songs each year, but this year we’re getting a little shtick-y with some comedy songs. Some, like this one, seem awfully dated. I think everyone respects Eminem at least a little bit and that makes this seem a little over the top. But it is pretty well done. The title pretty much says it all, and whoever is singing sounds enough like Eminem to make it realistic.

Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli – “The Prayer” – (1998)

Here’s a Christmas song that really isn’t a Christmas song. It’s religious – but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily about Christmas – even if it was on Celine Dion’s 1998 Christmas album (it was on a standard non-Holiday Andrea Bocelli album). It was featured in the movie Quest for Camelot and won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar and a Grammy. The vocals here, as you can probably guess, are amazing. Celine re-recorded this with Josh Groban in 2008, but the original is better. It was a minor hit in the U.S. and a slightly bigger one in Canada.

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