Two years ago, we scientifically ranked every Christmas song. That remains a helpful reference, but it’s not a ranking of holiday song recordings. Here, then, is a ranking of the top 25 seasonal songs ever recorded, and it is not debatable because it is 100% accurate. (A Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs on this list is available here, and is embedded at the bottom of this post.)
We start our list with the best song from the best Christmas movie ever made. (We’re passing on the Die Hard question and Love Actually can eat shit.)
There’s a reason some holiday standards are standards. A number of them show up further down the list.
This song’s seen a resurgence in the past few years, but it’s still one of the most underplayed holiday tracks.
Fun fact! The best holiday songs don’t appear on holiday-themed albums. This one’s from Cracker’s 2002 record Forever.
This track is from a New Zealand-only compilation titled Christmas On The Rocks. I don’t know why I own a copy, as I can barely find any reference to it at all on the Internet.
Again, there is a reason this song is currently playing in every Macy’s across the United States.
Count Floyd was an SCTV character, the one who wasn’t Guy Caballero. Leave it to Canadians to find the true meaning of Christmas.
This song is aspirational, insofar as you will never be as hip as anyone involved in this recording, but you can try!
“Merry Christmas to all, now you’re all gonna die!” Can anything capture the spirit of the season better?
Here’s a reminder that back in 1961, pop music could sound weird, atonal, and in irregular meter.
Somebody bet Squirrel Nut Zippers they couldn’t record the worst Christmas song ever. But Squirrel Nut Zippers were so awful, they accidentally recorded the 15th-best Christmas song ever.
The more popular Dino choice this time of year is the capital-P Problematic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” But “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” has a lot more of what made Dean Martin such a perfect personality. Also, Dean Martin died on Christmas. If Hell is a never-ending karaoke night, as many of the demons who haunt my dreams report, I’ll sing this tune for eternity.
Yes, there was an official video for this song.
Something lacking in modern pop music is the attempt to tie the holidays into contemporary trends and lingo. You see this throughout some of the standards—see #24 above, too—and we’re all worse off for lack of songs about Santa Claus being hyphy or dropping the NaeNae.
This also, inexplicably, has an official video. (That this didn’t make the top ten is a tragedy, but there really are ten better holiday songs!)
The Neko Case version is probably better, but you can argue about that in the comments.
Jesus was not, actually, born in the last month of the year, but this song is far from the most egregious offender of this misunderstanding of history. That title goes to “The Snow Lay On The Ground,” which not only gets the date wrong but claims it was snowing in Bethlehem—a particularly rare event, even in December (which is not when Jesus was born).
Here we have Santa actually arriving at a more appropriate historical time for the Savior’s birth, though the narrator of this track seems to be experiencing a particularly vivid opium dream.
Like some of the above tracks, this one’s a standard for good reason.
A fine allegory for your Trump-voting relatives. (We recorded a version about Bernie Kosar & Boomer Esiason ten years ago.)
Another undisputed classic, even though the lyrics are sub-Wiggles quality. (Our K7 remix is... a thing that exists.)
AHH NO! TOO FUNKY! (It also briefly and inexplicably breaks into Hava Nagila.)
I understand at least half the words in this song.
These lists almost always include “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” which is unfortunate as that song reeks of anti-Grinch bigotry. Here’s a version much more sympathetic to the green-hued creature. It would be the best holiday song ever recorded, except for its association with the very bad 2000 film version.
Across the country, families gather around the fireplace to sing this touching tale of a boy meeting Santa. It’s the Reason For The Season.