It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the Christmas (music) season! We’ve rounded up the top holiday songs and albums to get you into the Christmas spirit, whether you’re baking cookies, decorating the house or wrapping presents. From Paul McCartney to Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey, there’s something for everyone on this list. (Psst … scroll down to the bottom of the article for a Spotify playlist with all the songs mentioned.)
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without this absolute classic by Bing Crosby. In fact, his version, originally released in 1942, is actually the world’s best-selling single, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.
“Last Christmas” by Wham!
Dripping with ‘80s vibes, it’s tough not to break into song and dance when “Last Christmas” comes on. It’s been covered countless times by everyone from Jimmy Eat World to Carly Rae Jepsen, but the George Michael original will always have a special place in our hearts.
"Christmas" by Michael Bublé
Michael Bublé is basically the modern-day king of Christmas, and his festive 2011 album makes the perfect holiday soundtrack. If you’re having a holiday party, pop this YouTube video on your tv: it’s the full Christmas album paired with a burning yule log.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by She & Him
This spare version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is just the thing to listen to while sipping on apple cider or mulled wine. If you’ve seen the movie Elf, you’ve already heard Zooey Deschanel’s singing; either way, her musical side project with singer-songwriter and guitarist M. Ward is well worth a listen.
“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole’s buttery smooth voice makes this a favorite Christmas song for many. It was written by Robert Wells and Mel Tormé in the dead of summer in an attempt to “stay cool by thinking cool.”
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
This pop diva bop has become a modern classic of the Christmas genre, a real feat considering most of the popular holiday tunes are much older. It’s even the best selling Christmas single by a female artist overall.
“Carol of the Bells” by Pentatonix
We love this unique take on the classic “Carol of the Bells” by Pentatonix. The original song was based on a Ukranian folk chant, so it’s only fitting for an a cappella group to cover it.
“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms
First released in 1957, this swingin’ Christmas song is always a hit. It gets bonus points in our book for reminding us of a certain iconic scene in the movie Mean Girls.
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams
This song is our favorite way to kick off the Christmas season—it’s the perfect soundtrack for decorating the house. The rollicking melody will have everyone in your family singing and dancing along.
“Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra
Originally written in 1857, “Jingle Bells” is a perennial Christmas favorite. This jazzy version by Frank Sinatra adds something new to the song while still staying true to its roots. Check out the colorful new official video, perfect for budding Sinatra fans.
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
This version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” was recorded in 1958 and still holds up amazingly today, with a robust brass section and expert vocals by Brenda Lee. Believe it or not, Lee was just 13 years old at the time of recording!
“I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas
Fans of The Strokes, take note: this song by the band’s lead singer Julian Casablancas is a must-listen. It’s a nice palate cleanser if you’ve grown tired of the usual Christmas classics.
"Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!" by Sufjan Stevens
Prolific singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens has released five EPs of Christmas songs, but this one might be our favorite. It’s a laid-back yet catchy song celebrating the joys of Christmastime alongside sleigh bells and electric guitar.
Feature photo: iStock