7 Classic Christmas-Special Songs to Keep Your Spirits High!

Dec 23, 2020

Can you feel it? Christmas is only a few days away!

And this year, perhaps more than many others before it, we could use the cheer of those classic holiday specials!

If you’re anything like us, it won’t be long before those catchy and memorable songs blow the COVID-Christmas blues right out the door! It just can’t be helped; they’re terrible dated, yet still somehow feel fresh. They’re quaint and hokey, yet utterly influential. Just try to listening along and drown out the good feelings that are sure to come welling up.

With that very feeling in mind, this week we’re going to take a look back at some of our favourite songs from those TV specials of yesteryear. Check out our selection below, and relearn those old lessons that teach that there’s always enough holiday spirit around to warm every heart, even if you’re an oddball, miser, misfit, or just celebrating away from family this year.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964): We’re a Couple of Misfits


“We’re a Couple of Misfits” was originally featured in the 1964 Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, produced by holiday special giant Rankin/Bass.

The simple little ditty is sung by Rudolph and Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist, after they decided to be independent, together, and strike out on their own. The song was replaced due to the inclusion of a “special extended ending” from 1965 to 1998, but recent airings have reintroduced it.

We love the song’s message that being different is okay, especially when you have friends that accept you.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Christmas Time is Here

Written by Lee Mendelsen and composer and jazz man Vince Guaraldi, “Christmas Time is Here” is the opening song from the holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The song was sung by the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church choir, and plays as we watch Charlie Brown and Linus trudge through the snow on their way to meet up with the rest of the Peanuts gang to skate on a small frozen pond. It’s an idyllic scene of childhood during the holiday season.

The soundtrack has two versions of the classic Christmas carol, the vocal version heard in the opening scene, as well as a six-minute instrumental version that plays in the background during the special.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966): You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

What list of holiday special music would be complete without “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch?” The song’s uniquely hilarious lyrics were penned by none other than Dr. Suess himself. Boris Karloff, who narrates and provides the Grinch’s voice, was originally supposed to sing the song, but for some reason the studio decided to have Thurl Ravenscroft sing it. You might not recognize that incredibly epic name, but you know his work; he’s best known as the voice of the Frosted Flakes mascot, Tony the Tiger!

The song, with its silly lyrics, struck (and continues to strike) a chord with children and adults alike, and has become a classic favourite of all Grinch fans.

Frosty the Snowman (1969): Frosty the Snowman

Did you know that the song “Frosty the Snowman,” written by Steve “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and recorded by Gene Aurty and the Cass County Boys, actually came before, and inspired, the cartoon special? The original was recorded in 1950, and is usually considered a Christmas tune, even though it doesn’t mention the holiday at all.

The idea first came about after Nelson and Rollins saw the kind of success Autry was having singing Rudolph’s song in 1949. Once they decided to write their own catchy, silly Christmas song it took them months to decided on a living snowman as the subject. Lucky for them, they still managed to have it ready in time for a 1950 release, and Autry was delighted to to ride his own coattails back to the top of the charts.

While it may not talk about Christmas at all, this cute children’s poem has that wonderful feel-good spirit that makes it feel right at home with the rest of our holiday favourites, and is sure to bring some light and joy to the season.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970): Santa Claus is Coming to Town

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is another case where the song came much earlier than the TV special. This Christmas song was originally written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, and first sung on Eddie Cantor’s radio show, in November 1934. As you can guess, it became an instant classic, with over 100,000 orders of the sheet music the very next day, and more than 400,000 copies sold by Christmas alone!

The animated special didn’t come until much later, in 1970, with S.D. Kluger and the Westminster Children’s Choir providing the iconic vocals.

Since then, the song has been rerecorded hundreds of times. The most popular versions include the Andrew Sisters with Bing Crosby, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Cyndi Lauper with Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Pointer Sisters, Rachel Crow, Mariah Carey, and of course, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Jack Frost (1979): Jack Frost is Here

Arguably the last of the great, vivid Rankin/Bass holiday specials, “Jack Frost” is narrated by Pardon-Me-Pete, a groundhog voiced by comedian Buddy Hackett. Hackett also provided Pete’s singing voice for the tune “Jack Frost is Here,” which appears both at the beginning and the end of the special.

Another example of a song that has become a Christmas classic without mentioning Christmas at all, this little ditty is all about the coming of winter and the little changes that go on to let you know Jack has come.

The final rendition of the song is a bit melancholic, given Jack’s situation at the end of the story, but as his little buddy Snip says, the winter wouldn’t be the same without him.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): What’s This?


We’re going to cheat a little on this last one. It’s not really a Christmas special, so to speak, but it is one of our all-time favourite Christmas movies! In any case, the film boasts an incredible soundtrack written by the talented Danny Elfman. Mr. Elfman also provided Jack Skelington’s singing voice!

“What’s This?” may be a relatively new Christmas song when compared to many others on this list, but its message of wonder and discovery make it fit right in with all the classics we love from years before.

What classic holiday music is keeping your spirits up this year? Let us know in the comments!

And if you’re still hunting for a last minute gift for that music lover in your life, why not lessons from The Music Studio?!

The Music Studio is now offering music lesson gift certificates, just in time for the holidays!

  • Buy gift certificates for a specific number of lessons, or for any specific dollar amount. The value of one 30 minute private lesson is $37.00.
  • Gift certificates can be used for online or in-person lessons.
  • There is no expiry date!
  • Order yours by calling 416.234.9268 or by email to ed@themusicstudio.ca