Rediscovering Classic Christmas Songs
It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas! Get ready to embrace the holiday cheer with our roundup of the most classic Christmas songs that have warmed hearts for decades. From the nostalgic notes of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to the modern melody of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” these timeless tunes are the essence of the festive season.
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1934)
An instant sensation since Eddie Cantor’s radio show performance, this song has seen countless renditions by stars like Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Mariah Carey and The Jackson Five. Its enduring charm continues to bring festive joy worldwide.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (1944)
Judy Garland’s emotional performance in “Meet Me in St. Louis” introduced us to this melancholic yet heartwarming track. Songwriter Hugh Martin threw away the original melody but tried again after some encouragement from fellow songwriter, Ralph Blaine. Artists like Garth Brooks and James Taylor have since lent their voices, making it a holiday staple.
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958)
Brenda Lee’s youthful energy at just 13 years old brought this song to life. Gaining popularity in the 60s, it’s now a must-have on every Christmas playlist, partly thanks to its memorable feature in “Home Alone,” when Kevin fooled the burglars with a fake Christmas party featuring the song.
“A Holly Jolly Christmas” (1962)
Written in 1962 by Johnny Marks, this song was released in 1964 as the title track of The Quinto Sisters’ first album. Burl Ives, who voiced Sam the Snowman in the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” television special, recorded the most famous version. This upbeat tune remains a chart-topping favorite, radiating joyous holiday vibes.
“Wonderful Christmastime” (1979)
Recorded by Paul McCartney during his “McCartney II” album session, this song, despite mixed reviews, earns impressive royalties annually, testifying to its lasting appeal.
“Hard Candy Christmas” (1982)
This song was written by Carol Hall for the musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and was recorded by Dolly Parton when she starred in the film adaptation. Some question whether it’s truly a Christmas song, but it has remained a beloved part of holiday music collections.
“All I Want for Christmas is You” (1994)
Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff’s quick yet brilliant composition has become an unstoppable Christmas anthem, dominating charts every holiday season for 29 years.
“Where Are You Christmas?” (2000)
Originally recorded by Mariah Carey for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” legal battles led to Faith Hill’s popular version, which has been downloaded over a million times.
“Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)” (2012)
Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s rock-opera style brought a new dimension to Christmas music, with this track becoming one of their most significant hits.
Your Favorite Classic Christmas Song: Audience Poll
We’re curious to know, which of these classic Christmas songs is your all-time favorite.
The Enduring Legacy of Classic Christmas Songs
These nine classic Christmas songs represent the heart of holiday music, each leaving a unique imprint. Share your favorite memories associated with these tunes and let us know if there are any other classics you’d love to see on this list!