December 06, 2017
I don’t like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” because it reminds me of getting run over by a car.
I also do not like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” because an erstwhile department store co-opted it for an “It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like Gimbel’s” ad campaign. It’s nightmarishly seared into my memory banks because when I was in elementary school, a broadcasting error left it playing on loop for 10 or so minutes on – I think – Channel 6.
Others don’t like “All I Want For Christmas,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Santa Baby,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” “White Christmas” and others for a variety of societally problematic reasons.
Maybe you do like those songs, and that’s OK!
We’re not here today to debate the alleged “War on Christmas” or manners as they pertain to the holiday music you play aloud. (I do ask that you send thoughts and prayers out to that poor Grandma, though).
What we are here to do is put a frame around a holiday themed rankings listicle delving into Christmas songs. That frame? The Top 20 non-problematic Christmas Songs to play at a party this holiday season.
(Note to folks who actually read this far before cracking their knuckles for a commenting screed: I believe it’s your right to play whatever damn Christmas song you want at your parties, and I will play these at mine).
Maybe I missed some. Please drop a line via email or in the comments if that’s the case and I’ll personally shout you out if I add it to my Christmas party playlist.
20. “Let It Snow,” Vaughn Monroe. Some could argue that this is not a Christmas song at all, just like some could argue that “Die Hard” is not a Christmas movie at all. Both somes would be wrong. The song appears on the movie’s soundtrack, and some YouTube hero mashed the two up for the below video. That’s Christmas-y enough.
18. “Blue Christmas,” Elvis Presley. No Christmas party is complete without the King and a chance to slow-ish dance. This 60-year-old song offers both.
17. “8 Days of Christmas,” Destiny’s Child. I mean, the message here could be problematic, I guess. But Yonce is involved, so, here you go.
16. “Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto,” James Brown. Same as above. Just repleace Yonce with The Godfather.
15. “Don’t Shoot Me Santa,” The Killers. I like The Killers. They should be on every house-party play list. Deal with it. (Add “A Great Big Sled” if you’re so inclined.)
14. “Jingle Bell Rock,” Bobby Helms. If there will be children at your party, go with the Alvin and the Chipmunks version. It'll distract them for a while.
13. “Christmas Eve,” Kelly Clarkson. Here's a new one to throw in the mix. If you haven't heard it yet, do. While you do, think about how things would be different if local fellow Justin Guarini defeated Clarkson in the first-ever "American Idol" competition.
12. “Father Christmas,” The Kinks. This song is about kids demanding money instead of toys from a department-store Santa in a class-war move. Ahead of its time.
11. “Christmas In Hollis,” Run DMC. The fact that this classic banger didn't crack the Top 10 shocked even me, the list ranker. But here we are, at No. 11. Let this not serve as a condemnation of the 1988 track, though. It should be on each and every holiday party playlist.
10. “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth,” Donald Yetter Gardner. Adorbs song. Here's young Melissa Lynn singing it on the Al Alberts Showcase. Aw. Think of it as the break in action when people are refreshing their nog glasses.
9. “Last Christmas,” Wham. As just about every Twitter user pointed out just 12 months ago, last Christmas was George Michael’s last Christmas, as the pop star died on December 25, 2016. That convergence did not move this song up or down the list. It is just a beautiful Christmas song.
8. “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee. If this song doesn’t put you in a nostalgically festive holiday mood, nothing will. Also, it will fend off any criticisms from old heads asking for "real" Christmas songs. So there's that.
7. “Run Rudolph Run,” Chuck Berry. See previous entry.
6. “What Christmas Means To Me,” Stevie Wonder. An under appreciated, underplayed gem.
5. “Christmas Wrapping,” The Waitresses. This may very well be the catchiest pop carol of all time (non-Jackson 5 category). It's 80s, but not spandex 80s. Also, don't call The Waitresses one-hit wonders unless you want to get shamed by someone who knows that they also sang, "I Know What Boys Like."
4. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” Jackson 5. There are surely people out there who prefer Bruce Springsteen's version. That's fine. Here are embedded videos of both:
2a. “Mele Kalikimaka,” Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters. We're going way old-school with this Hawaiian-themed Christmas classic, and for good reason: It deserves classic status. Try not to smile when it comes on. You can't avoid it. This track should be played early on in the gathering. It's not a dance floor banger; it's a mood setter.
2. "Feliz Navidad," Jose Feliciano. It may not be cut from the traditional door-to-door carolers songbook, but it's there in spirit. See, even Philly's Daryl Hall thinks so!
1. “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You,” Billy Squier. The title says it all. Tell people you love that you love them. Have fun. Celebrate the season with the spirit of positivity coursing though your veins. Thank you for this song, Billy Squier.