They’re one of the first, best signs telling you the Christmas season is here! No, not lights or decorations or even sales – Christmas songs! Although there are plenty of tunes to celebrate the festive season, these top Christmas songs of all time are the best background music to play on YouTube or Spotify while opening gifts, having a Christmas party, or relaxing on Christmas Day! So, without further ado, here are the best Christmas songs (YouTube videos).
All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
Every year for four years, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey has topped the Billboard 100 charts and is always included in Christmas music mix or best Christmas playlist lists. It’s so iconic that every year on November 1, the diva herself announces the start of the holiday season with a social media post!
What makes it such a great Christmas song? It starts with an instrument called a celesta – featured in The Nutcracker – and oh-so-Christmassy sleighbells – think of “Jingle Bells”! But once she starts singing with that voice we all know and love, the song is a modern classic. Maybe the best part of the song, though, is what it’s about: alongside Santa Claus and mistletoe, it’s really a song about love.
Last Christmas by Wham!
Wham’s “Last Christmas” is so popular it’s been covered by artists like Taylor Swift and Jimmy Eat World, but it’s not just a happy holiday tune. The song is about something we can all relate to – the holidays bringing up complex emotions and memories of a relationship that went wrong.
It is also hopeful because after singing, “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away,” they end on a positive note: “Maybe next year, I’ll give it to someone, I’ll give it to someone special.”
Oh Holy Night by Celine Dion
“Oh Holy Night” by Celine Dion was first written in French in 1843 and translated into English in 1855, but her version is a vibrant, modern Christmas standard! You hear it everywhere for a reason: it’s a carol with a soaring melody brought to life by a powerful voice, a Christmas song that celebrates Jesus’s birth.
It’s a notoriously difficult song to sing, with high notes that can be hard for all but the most talented singers, which Celine Dion is – she hits every note flawlessly. Combining English and French lyrics, she brings a church and concert hall classic into the wider world and the modern day!
Happy Christmas (War Is Over) By Darius Rucker
Darius Rucker’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” was originally written by John Lennon in 1971, but its message is still one you probably need to hear! It’s a welcome reminder that you can be part of creating a better world. If the news seems like too much right now, this may be the Christmas song you need to hear!
Angels We Have Heard on High
The cascading, joyful chorus of “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” is one you probably recognize instantly! There are 16 notes in the “o” of Gloria alone! But as famous as it is, nobody knows who composed “Angels We Have Heard On High.” Most hymnals and sheet music just say “French Carol Melody,” where a composer’s name might usually be.
Regardless, hearing all the different versions is part of what makes it so special. So, whether your favorite version is by Andrea Bocelli, a classical choir, or Sufjan Stevens, it’s a joyful song that tells the story of Christmas and builds to a triumphant ending!
Christmas Lights by Coldplay
“Christmas Lights” by Coldplay is another classic modern Christmas song. Like “Last Christmas,” it’s about something most people can probably relate to an argument over Christmas. The singer walks to Oxford Street, a major London street famous for its elaborate, glittering Christmas decorations, but it doesn’t feel much like Christmas after a bad fight. As he walks, he finds some hope and ends: “May all your troubles soon be gone.”
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town by Frank Sinatra
In his jazzy, swingin’ version of the 1930s kids’ holiday classic “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Frank Sinatra reminds us that Santa’s on his way. This Christmas song may have started as a playful way to remind kids to behave because Santa knows if they’ve been good, and they definitely want to be on the good list, but Sinatra’s version will also have you tapping your foot and maybe even dancing!
Silent Night by Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire
“Silent Night” is a Christmas song you’ve probably heard a million different ways, but Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, and Reba McEntire offer us a new arrangement that combines their three distinctive styles. With three powerful voices, they start with a layered trio and then sing the final verse together in complete harmony.
Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande
In Ariana Grande’s fun, relatable, oh-so-danceable Christmas song “Santa Tell Me,” she asks Santa about something you may have wondered about once or twice: is her new relationship the real thing or will it just be a memory by next Christmas?
That premise may not sound like much fun, but this upbeat, poppy Christmas song still is!
Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix
Pentatonix brings their distinctive style – modern arrangements, beatboxing, and no instruments – to the classic Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy.”
It’s a hopeful, meditative version of the story of a poor little boy who had no gift to bring the baby Jesus on Christmas except to play his drum. Maybe it will remind you that no matter how small a gift or a kind gesture may seem, it can mean a lot, especially at this time of year!
White Christmas by Michael Bublé Featuring Kelly Rowland & Naturally 7
Michael Bublé, Kelly Rowland, and Naturally combine the classic and modern in their rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” which has been a favorite Christmas song since it was composed by Irving Berlin in 1942 for Holiday Inn, the precursor to the film White Christmas!
This version keeps what made the original version great while adding a new twist. Bublé’s classic crooning, Naturally 7’s playful backing vocals, and Rowland’s soaring, powerful vocals keep it fresh and fun!