Our 10 Favourite Holiday Songs to Sing Along To

Nov 21, 2018

Well, it’s that time of year again! We find ourselves in the latter half of November, with the holiday season in full swing! It’s the time of year where the seasonal holiday music is simply everywhere, from the hundreds of stations that are now playing Christmas music around the clock, to every retail store blasting classic carols as you enter.

But even if you’re a Christmas music Scrooge, there’s still a few songs that can warm the cockles of any heart this time of year. With that in mind, this week we’re bringing you a selection of our favourite holiday music to sing this time of year.

Sing along, won’t you?

Wham! – “Last Christmas”

A holiday favourite since 1984, George Michael’s Christmas anthem of love, loss, and moving on has been a seasonal regular, and has earned covers from all kinds of performers since, from Taylor Swift to Jimmy Eat World.

The classic got its start when George Michael and Wham! bandmate Andre Ridgeley were visiting Michael’s parents on a normal Sunday. After a meal, Michael disappeared for about an hour, only to return with the introduction and chorus melody for “Last Christmas.” Ridgeley called it “a moment of wonder.”

Bing Crosby – “White Christmas”

“I want you to take down a song I wrote over the weekend. Not only is it the best song I ever wrote, it’s the best song anybody ever wrote!” declared Tin Pan Alley legend Irving Berlin to his secretary in 1940, just before committing “White Christmas” to paper.

Thanks to Bing Crosby’s performance of the now-classic in Holiday Inn, which earned it an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1940, helped bring the song into the popular consciousness and make it an enduring standard for decades to come. In fact, according to Guinness World Record, it’s the best-selling single of all time.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”

Okay, so I’m cheating a little with this one – I know I said this list would be for our favourite holiday songs to sing, but I just can’t leave the Trans-Siberian Orchestra off the list, even if the only “singing” done is humming along to the melody.

This medley of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol of the Bells” was first released on their 1996 debut album. Now, no Christmas is complete without a light display set to this amazing song.

Andy Williams – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Written in triple time in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle, and recorded by Andy Williams for his first Christmas album, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has become a holiday perennial. This, despite the fact that William’s record label didn’t even bother releasing it as a promotional single that year, instead choosing to promote his cover of “White Christmas.”

Yet, regardless of this initial oversight, after more than 50 years, it stays near the top of the Billboard Holiday 100 songs chart.

Burl Ives – “A Holly Jolly Christmas”

This classic was originally featured in the 1964 Rankin-Bass Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in which Burl Ives provided the voice of the narrator, Sam the Snowman, who first performed it. Ives re-recorded it the following year for his holiday album, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. This second version was a little slower than the original, and features an acoustic guitar introduction.

Since then, “A Holly Jolly Christmas” has gone on to become one of the most-covered Christmas song ever.

Jose Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad”

Recorded in 1970, Feliciano played both an acoustic guitar and a Puerto Rican cuatro in this bilingual classic. With its simple Spanish chorus made up of the traditional Christmas/New Year greeting, “Feliz Navidad, próspero año y Felicidad” meaning “Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness,” and its equally simple English verse, “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart,” this tune has become one of the most downloaded and aired Christmas songs in the United States and Canada.

Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock”

Written by two advertisers, Joseph Beal and James Boothe (which may explain why it’s so catchy), this fun country classic was first released by Bobby Helms in 1957, and featured guitar by Nashville legend Hank Garland.

Since its release, it has easily become one of North America’s favourite Christmas songs. In fact, as of November 25, 2016, total sales of the digital track of the original recording stood at 780,000 downloads, putting it in the ninth position on the list of all-time best-selling Christmas/holiday digital sales.

Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)”

Legend has it that this Christmas favourite was actually conceived of during a blisteringly hot summer day. According to Bob Wells and Mel Tormé, the song was actually written in an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool.” Tormé recalled, “I saw a spiral pad on his (Wells’) piano with four lines written in pencil. They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting…, Jack Frost nipping…, Yuletide carols…, Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”

All it would need was Nat King Cole’s legendary voice to elevate it the level of “classic.”

Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Recorded when she was just 13 years old, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” became an instant classic, and propelled Brenda Lee into rockabilly legend status. Since this original recording it’s been covered by many other artists, but remains a yearly favourite. In fact, by the song’s 50th anniversary in 2008, Lee’s original version had sold over 25 million copies with the 4th most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single.

Mariah Carey – “All I Want for Christmas is You”

No Christmas sing-along list would be complete without Mariah Carey! This song has been called “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday cannon,” by The New Yorker, and is so popular that it has re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 practically every December since it was originally released in 1994!

And it’s not just popular in North America – the song has topped the charts in the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, and Spain, while reaching number two in Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom, and the top 10 in several other countries. With global sales of over 16 million copies, the song remains Carey’s biggest international success and is the 11th best-selling single of all time.