There's many things to enjoy about the Christmas season. For some it's the presents, for others it's Christmas Dinner, for most of us it's both and for everyone, it's the feeling of joy and goodwill towards others that the season brings. Christmas really is that time of year that brings out the best in people and gives us many things to enjoy about the holiday every time it comes. And one thing that many of us enjoy at this time of year...are the songs.
I understand that some people may hate Christmas songs, especially those that work in department stores as they play them non-stop around this time of year. But I personally love Christmas songs. They tend to get me as hyped up for the holiday as everything else does and I enjoy listening to them every December. So to celebrate the great tunes of Christmas, I'll be counting down my Top 10 Favourite Christmas Songs. Which ones will make the count and will any of your favourites end up here? Read along to find out.
Get ready to celebrate Christmas through music everyone as we count down my Top 10 Favourite Christmas Songs...
Number 10: Saviour's Day by Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard has done many great Christmas songs over the years with Mistletoe and Wine being one of his most popular tracks to be played around Christmas time. This song is no exception to this and is my personal favourite Christmas song he did. With lyrics written by Chris Eaton and Cliff Richard at the vocals, Saviour's Day is an absolute powerhouse of a tune that never gets old no matter how many Christmases I hear it playing at.
The music is instantly memorable from that catchy wind music that often plays throughout the song that gives the tune a somewhat mystical, even tribal sound to it, and the lyrics really capture what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. The song can be interpreted as being about the birth of Jesus what with having to raise your glass and "drink to the King" as it says or how the song details about people coming from afar to be with someone on the Saviour's Day. You can't get more about Christmas than being about the origin of the holiday itself, can you? And Cliff Richard's vocals only add to the song as he sings it beautifully. His voice is just so well-suited to the holiday and makes for some great Christmas tunes every time he performs one. Funny enough, this song doesn't actually mention Christmas at all despite it being a Christmas song but it doesn't need to. It's clearly ABOUT Christmas without having to mention it by name as I detailed and it makes the song more accessible as a result as I'm sure other religions can get into what the song's about and have it speak to them in some way.
Saviour's Day is a treat for the ears and I love listening to it every year. It's a Christmas present from Cliff Richard I'm happy to receive every year and I never get tired of listening to it. This is a song that we should all sing to on the Saviour's Day...
Number 9: Step Into Christmas by Elton John
Given what an awesome singer Elton John is, is it any surprise he did an awesome Christmas song?
Step Into Christmas was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin and released in 1973 and since then, it's become a holiday classic that many people still listen to to this day. And for good reason, it's so damn enjoyable! The song has a very fast pace to it that could easily be interpreted as what the sound of someone's excitement for Christmas would be like. It's one of those tunes that even makes you feel like dancing or at least bopping in your seat to when it plays. The lyrics also capture the fun and enjoyment of Christmas too with lines such as "Welcome to my Christmas song, I'd like to thank you for the year" or especially the highly quotable chorus lines "Step into Christmas and together we could watch the snow fall forever and ever. Eat, drink and be merry come along with me. Step into Christmas, the admission's free". It's like a Christmas party in song form and it's so infectiously enjoyable as a result!
This song is a high favourite of mine because of how catchy, bouncy and fun it is. It captures the joyous feeling of Christmas and is a song you can dance to with friends or family at a Christmas party if the song's ever playing at the time. All that plus the great vocals of Elton John and some great instrument work make for one heck of an awesome tune that I always love listening to when December comes. I'll happily step into Christmas if this song will be playing at the time.
Number 8: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Michael Bublé
This is an old tune dating back to 1951 with many different covers over the years performed by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathias and even Alvin and the Chipmunks have recorded their own version. No really.
But my absolutely favourite version of the song, and hence why it's on the list above all the other versions, is the Michael Bublé cover. It's the opening track for his hugely popular Christmas album from 2011 and let's just say, it's a great way to open up an album. The song itself already evokes the feeling of Christmas with the lyrics covering such festive imagery like a Christmas tree up in the grand hotel, one in the park as well, toys in every store, the five-and-ten sporting candy canes and silver lanes aglow and even holly hanging on your own front door. How can you NOT feel festive when you hear such wholesome lyrics that describe such wholesome imagery? It's almost like what one dreams about when it comes to Christmas and it's just so sweet to listen to, which is what a Christmas song should feel like when you hear it.
There are many great covers as described earlier but I enjoy Michael Bublé's the most because of his soothing, elegant vocals that are like honey on your ears. His voice is perfectly suited for this song and it makes for a very easy, relaxing listen to at any time of the festive season. His vocals make the song feel like something you'd put on to sit back and relax with after a hard day's Christmas shopping and I imagine it'll be very effective in putting your mind at ease after some of the more stressful parts of the holiday. With this great cover, we knew Michael Bublé's Christmas album was going to be something special and given people STILL listen to it to this day, we were right to think that.
The song is a classic in and of itself but Michael Bublé's cover makes it even more of one and I love listening to it every Christmas. It's relaxing, soothing and full of festive imagery that brings home the wholesome feeling of Christmas. It's begins to sound a lot like Christmas whenever this tune is playing...
Number 7: It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams
It wouldn't be Christmas without this old chestnut, would it? ;)
Written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle, the song was recorded by famed pop singer, the late great Andy Williams, and released on his first Christmas album that same year, It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year has since gone on to become one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time with the tune regularly being played on the radio at this time of year and numerous other artists covering the song. Even famed Doctor Who and Torchwood actor John Barrowman covered the song on his own Christmas album, and it's as FAB-U-LOOOOOOOOOOOOOUS as it sounds!
But back to this version. This is an example of how the original is always the best and no cover can match up to Andy Williams's version of the song. His distinctive voice adds a lot to the song and is a joy to listen to every time the song plays and the lyrics just perfectly capture the fun and enjoyment of the Christmas season. The fact it's even titled "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" further invokes Christmas as many of us often refer to it that way. The lyrics provoke a lot of fun, wholesome imagery from Christmas parties to family fun and the overall feeling of joy and happiness that the holiday promotes on a yearly basis. I do have to scratch my head slightly at some of the lines like "marshmallows for toasting" and "there'll be scary ghost stories". I dunno, that sounds more like stuff you'd do around a campfire, not at Christmas time even if ghosts are associated with the holiday thanks to A Christmas Carol. Nevertheless, the song really does encapsulate the joyous feeling of Christmas and Andy Williams's dignified vocals really sell just how enjoyable the holiday season really is and might even make you want to experience a Christmas like what he describes here because of how enjoyable it sounds.
This song is simply a classic from beginning to end and it doesn't waste a minute being festive, fun and enjoyable to listen to from the great music to the wonderful lyrics and the sensational vocals of Andy Williams. It's The Most Wonderful Song You Will Hear I say. ;)
Number 6: Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney
It's a Christmas song by one of The Beatles. No surprise it's one of my favourite Christmas songs. XD
Here's a fun fact for you: this song was introduced to me by a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie of all things. And no, I don't mean the original Rankin-Bass movie, I mean THIS one. Yes people, this song was so good it appeared in a Rudolph movie of all things and big shocker, it's the best song in the movie as a result. Anyway, Wonderful Christmastime was released in 1979 with Paul McCartney working on and recording most, if not all of it, by himself. Seriously, according to Wikipedia he did the vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, guitars, bass, drums, percussion, jingle bells and was responsible for the production of the song! Talk about a one-man job, am I right?!
And as a result, Paul made one hell of an awesome Christmas song with everything he did on it. The song is insanely catchy thanks to the synthesizer beats and bass guitar featured throughout the song. Once you hear those opening beats, you'll never forget them and you'll be humming this song for the rest of your life. Not only is it really damn catchy, but it's fun and easy to sing along with thanks to some relatively simple to learn lyrics that also capture the feeling of Christmas whether it's Paul singing about everyone having a wonderful Christmas time or a choir of children singing their songs. There's even jingle bells that you hear a few times in the song too. The lyrics and the music make for an enjoyable combination that makes for one of the most enjoyable tunes you can listen to around this time of year and Paul's performance is also a lot of fun to listen to here. He sounds like he's having a wonderful Christmas time himself and if he sounds like he's having fun, you can have fun alongside him when you listen to this tune!
Paul McCartney shows that just one guy is all you need to make a great Christmas song and he gives us one heck of a tune that will never leave your head no matter what time of year it is. This is a song that truly feels like we're simply having a wonderful Christmas time.
Number 5: Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade
Everyone knows this song and it's a holiday classic that many of us are still listening to every Christmas, even in this day and age. And for good reason too, it's so damn awesome!
Released in 1973, Merry Xmas Everybody remains one of Slade's most popular songs they've recorded and continues to be a holiday staple for many of us, not just in the UK. With lyrics written by lead vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, Merry Xmas Everybody gives us a rocking Christmas song that sounds like something you'd expect to hear in a rocking Christmas party. It's really catchy and has enough of a fast beat to it that you could easily dance to this song if they play it at a Christmas party or a Christmas-themed disco someone might be hosting. With its kickass rock guitar music, thumping bass and the iconic vocals of Noddy Holder, Merry Xmas Everybody is a Christmas song like no other and produces us a song that only Slade could make.
The lyrics themselves are appropriately Christmas themed too with a lot of talk about hanging up stockings on the wall, someone's mother kissing Santa Claus (weird), waiting for the family to arrive and join in with the festive season and of course, the ever famous moment where Noddy Holder just bellows at the top of his lungs "IT'S CHRIIIIIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!" at the end of the song. How many of us have done that ourselves after hearing the song? I know my dad did so one year to wake us up for Christmas Day. XD The song would also find itself being played in a couple of Doctor Who Christmas Specials (maybe Russell T. Davies is a fan of it?) and Noddy Holder himself would even voice a character in a Bob the Builder Christmas special in which, of course, they have him yell "IT'S CHRIIIIIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!" at one point because why not? XD Goes to show how popular and iconic this tune is when Slade find themselves being associated with iconic British media like Doctor Who and Bob the Builder am I right? There's also a cover done by Robbie Williams and Jamie Cullum on Robbie's own Christmas album in which the song is done in a more swinging style of music rather than rock. It surprisingly sounds really good when done this way too.
Merry Xmas Everybody is a rocking tune that should be played at every Christmas party because of how enjoyable it is. It's catchy, it's fun and it's just what we expect from a Christmas song, a fun time for everyone to listen to at a Christmas party. I guarantee you'll have fun with this song too and your Christmas enjoyment is only just beginning when you put this song on...
Number 4: I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake
I'm not sure if this one's considered a holiday classic as much as the other ones on this list or if it's as popular as them, but I personally quite enjoy this song whenever Christmas comes.
Performed by the late Greg Lake, this song takes a different approach in comparison to other Christmas songs out there. For starters, Greg himself stated that the song is actually in protest against the commercialisation of Christmas. We joke about how bad it is now but this song came out in 1975 so it was clearly bad then too! While Greg has said this about the song, Peter Sinfield (who also wrote the song with Greg) has said the lyrics are stated to be about the loss of innocence and childhood belief. Personally, I don't agree with that interpretation because the song's pretty uplifting and sounds pretty positive for a song that's meant to be about that. For me, the song sounds more like a nostalgic reflection on what Christmas used to mean back when we were young. It definitely feels like it's written with childhood in mind what with lines such as "I remember on Christmas morning, a winter's light and a distant choir" or "I believe in Father Christmas and I look to the sky with excited eyes" or even "they sold me the dream of Christmas, they sold me a silent night". Even the title sounds like a child at Christmas what with the whole theme of believing in Father Christmas. It does make for a nice listen to with these lyrics and how they can bring you back to childhood and what Christmas was like for you at that age.
The song is also just lovely to listen to in general thanks to the gentle vocals of Greg Lake, the acoustic guitar music accompanying the song and it even features instrumental riffs between verses from the "Troika" portion of Sergei Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite music. It sounds great and I love the acoustic guitar portion that opens up the song. The music also builds up and up and up until we get to the end of the song where it feels like we end with a triumphant conclusion. The instruments and the vocal work combine together for a great sounding song and I never tire of hearing it year after year.
I Believe In Father Christmas is a merry tune that is fun to sing along to, pleasant to listen to and stands out thanks to its nostalgic lyrics and how it talks about what Christmas was truly all about back in the days of old. This is a song that will make you believe in Father Christmas too...
Number 3: In Dulchi Jublio by Mike Oldfield
Now this is an interesting one to talk about. This is a Christmas song that truly is like no other, although we can't even really call it a song as there's no actual singing in it. It's ENTIRELY instrumental!
In Dulchi Jublio is a Christmas carol that originates from Germany with a title that is Latin for the phrase "In sweet rejoicing". Come 1975, Mike Oldfield would perform his own take on the carol and his version would become one of the best known versions that we know of today. As I said, his take on this song is interesting and unique for how unlike other Christmas songs, this one has no vocals whatsoever. It's done entirely with instruments with no singers or lyrics to be heard anywhere. All you hear for 3 minutes and four seconds straight is just Mike Oldfield playing as many different instruments as possible and I do mean as many as possible! The music video alone shows you him and another musician, Les Penning, and another musician, William Murray, playing all kinds of instruments that make up the tune we hear from drums to rock guitars to recorders to keyboards and pianos. It's quite impressive that all those instruments together make up a tune that sounds as awesome as it does. It's really catchy and even with no lyrics, you feel like singing along to it for it sounds so bouncy and enjoyable.
And that brings me to the fact it's all instrumental. When you listen to this tune, what kind of images come to your head? For me, I imagine a party featuring lots of elves dancing together in sync with the song and they're holding hands and kicking in unison as they dance around a snow-covered village with gingerbread houses and candy canes as their surroundings. This tune really does sound like something you'd hear in an elf village or something like that and it just fits the feeling of Christmas so well with how bouncy and joyous it sounds. If a Christmas party could be depicted only with sound, chances are it would sound something like this.
This song is proof that you don't always need vocals to make a great Christmas song. All we need is Mike Oldfield and his mates playing a bunch of instruments together to make a merry and festive tune that captures the joy and happiness of Christmas. Words cannot do justice as to how enjoyable this song truly is...
Number 2: Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid
It wouldn't be a Christmas song list without this classic, would it?
If you remember my Live Aid countdown from earlier this year, Band Aid was the predecessor for what would become the legendary Live Aid concert of 1985. Before then, we had Band Aid and they made history with one of the most legendary Christmas songs of all time. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote the song together and gathered a bunch of the biggest names in music at the time to perform it. Practically every big name from the 70's and the 80's is here from Paul Young to Bono to Boy George to George Michael to Phil Collins to Sting and so much more! The point of Band Aid was to raise money for the famine in Africa at the time and the song makes that very clear with lines reflecting what they're here for. They sing about how while we're having fun at Christmas, there's a world outside our window and it's one of dread and fear where people are starving with little food and the only water they have is water that's hardly sustainable for them. It does give this Christmas song a bit of a darker edge to it that doesn't make it quite as cheerful as most Christmas songs are, but I don't think they make it sound too miserable at least.
The song to me feels more like it's inspiring the listener to, as they sing at the end, "feed the world". I know I'd have been compelled to donate at the time after hearing this. Also the song has some pretty kickass instrumentals that make the song enjoyable to listen to in spite of the dark subject matter. We have Phil Collins doing what he does best on the drums and we have that lovely synthesizer music that plays at around 2:26 that I swear I could listen on loop to because it's so good! All that combined with the many, MANY different singers they gathered together gives us a great sounding song that really does sound like the world has banded together for a good cause. It's really uplifting in that sense and it makes the song great to listen to even if we're long since past the African famine of the 80's.
In fact, this song is pretty timeless when you consider we've had more versions that have come since then such as Band Aid 2 in 1989, Band Aid 20 in 2004 and Band Aid 30 in 2014 with the subject matter being different for each version such as Band Aid 30 singing the song for the Ebola crisis in 2014. It just goes to show how well it's aged and that it can be done again for any crisis, even if the original will always be the best. It's a great song that was created for a good cause and I love listening to it every year. I'm happy for Band Aid to let me know it's Christmas time ANY time...
And my Number 1 Favourite Christmas Song is...Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens
I'm not sure what I can even say about this song other than "it's a classic". It's such a brilliant Christmas song and I love it so!
There are many reasons why Christmas songs are great and this song definitely has a lot of things I love about it. First of all we have the enthusiastic vocals of Shakin' Stevens that more than fit for this song. A good Christmas song is one where even the singer sounds as excited and enthusiastic about it as we do and Shakin' Steven's vocal work really excel in that department. He sounds like he can't wait to share his excitement for the holiday with the listeners and wants them to have a great time like he is.
Second of all, the lyrics are so upbeat, festive and jolly that it's hard not to enjoy it and have fun singing along to them. The song talks about the fun and excitement of the holidays with a lot of wholesome holiday imagery it invokes be it playing in the snow with a bunch of excited children, Christmas parties and presents to enjoy, swaying in time with music playing or kissing under the mistletoe with your loved ones. If you took Christmas as a whole and turned it into a song, it would sound like this easily and it's just so festive and fun to listen and sing to as a result. The lyrics give us a fast-paced tune that makes this a song you can dance to at a Christmas party and it's really catchy. You'll be humming this song even when Christmas is over, I guarantee!
The song itself is so awesome that we've had some pretty damn neat covers from other artists such as George Ezra and Nathan Evans and their versions sound just as great as the original. They sound as enthusastic as Shakin' Stevens does when he did this song and thus their versions end up being as enjoyable to listen to, especially as their versions also have some great instrumental accompanying their vocals to make for a fun single to listen to. Merry Chirstmas Everyone is a song that is so merry, festive and fun that no matter the coat of paint you give it, it sounds wonderful and it makes for an infectiously enjoyable song that will brighten up anyone's Christmas.
With fun lyrics, enthusiastic vocals, wholesome imagery that invokes the feeling of Christmas, catchy tune and lovely instrument work, Merry Christmas Everyone is a rocking song that I enjoy year after year and is by far My Number 1 Favourite Christmas Song...
And that's it for this list. I hope you enjoyed it and found these songs as fun to listen to as I do. What are your Top 10 Favourite Christmas Songs? I'd love to hear your picks down below. Feel free to share in the comments your favourite festive tunes. Next week, I'll be joining forces with my friend Sam the Mini Yeti to review The Muppets Christmas Carol. So you then everyone!