It may surprise you to hear that I still like Christmas music even after years of working retail. I do, though. Maybe not the really obnoxious and overplayed stuff – honestly, if I hear one more cover of "Baby Please Come Home" I might kill somebody – but there's a lot of great Christmas music out there and the novelty of only being able to listen to it for about a month every year means it's tough to really get sick of.
And so, in no particular order, here are my ten favorite Christmas songs. They're not terribly traditional, you may notice. I do like traditional carols. But I find updated versions or newer songs more fun for singing along in my car or bopping along to with friends. Enjoy!
Tara's Top 10 Christmas Songs
Elvis Presley, "Blue Christmas:"
Only Elvis is allowed to sing this song. Any other artist attempting it is unacceptable to me. My mom was definitely on the Elvis side of the Pulp Fiction Elvis/Beatles divide, so I used to hear this song on her old vinyl Elvis records as a kid. So my love for this is part nostalgia and part just loving the King's voice and the simple melancholy but not over-the-top song.
The Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping:"
Can you get more 80s than this? No. No you can not. And it's glorious. I love the Valley Girl lyric delivery, the cheerfully cynical tone, the cheesy horn solo, the John Hughes-esque narrative... I just love the whole damn thing. This one never fails to make me smile.
Run-DMC, "Christmas in Hollis:"
I should warn you, a lot of this list is going to live in the 80s. Because the 80s produced some pretty awesome Christmas tunes. Like this cheerful tale of a Queens Christmas from the rappers you still think about whenever you see someone wearing all black clothes and white sneakers.
The Killers, "Don't Shoot Me Santa:"
And now for something completely different! Remember kids, if you're naughty, Santa won't just deny you toys, he will straight up kill your sorry naughty ass and bury you in a shallow grave.
The Ramones, "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight):"
The Ramones are Long Island royalty. So as a LI girl, no Christmas list I could make would be complete without this awesome classic. Bonus points for the trashy LI video: "We were supposed to visit my parents in MineOOOla!"
The Pretenders, "2000 Miles:"
I did warn you about the 80s thing, right? But seriously. This is a great song. Every time my bangs get too long and hang in my eyes I try to pretend I'm a total rock badass like Chrissie Hynde. Coldplay does a decent cover of this song, but nothing beats the original.
Fountains of Wayne, "Valley Winter Song:"
This isn't technically a Christmas song. But it's on my Christmas playlist anyway because it so perfectly captures the mood of frozen New England winter days. There's something sort of soothing but still moody about it.
The Calling, "Carol of the Bells:"
I stumbled on this one on some Christmas compilation and I love it. Usually you hear this song performed either with enormous drama and bombast or in a traditional choral style, so I love this quiet acoustic version. You can actually understand the lyrics!
Tori Amos, "Pink and Glitter:"
I've loved Tori since about the age of 15 (like most girls who were teenagers in the 1990s). The Christmas CD she put out last year, Midwinter Graces, is absolutely gorgeous. This track is my favorite. I love the Big Band style, and I totally love the title. Two of my favorite things! How could I resist? Tori speaks my language.
Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLachlan, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings:"
It's hard to imagine these two traditional carols sounding so punchy and cheerful, but BNL made it happen. I hit "repeat" on this one a lot every December. It just makes me happy. Maybe it's the combo of carols I remember from a Catholic upbringing combined with a newer, less churchy arrangement.
And there you have it. I've got about 7 hours' worth of Christmas music in my iTunes, but I found this list weirdly easy to compile. These were really the clear favorites – and looking at the "times played" count on my iTunes bears that out since these all get the most repeats of anything else. (I did consider including Adam Sandler's "Hannukah Song," but since I titled the list "Top 10 Christmas Songs" and not "Top 10 Holiday Songs" it felt a little like cheating.)
Anyway. I hope you like these, and maybe even discovered something new for your own holiday music collection.