I started my top five feature a little while back with my top five Bob Dylan songs. Now that we're in the thick of the holiday season and I'm able to listen to Christmas music without shame (I held out until after Thanksgiving, which was a feat!), what better choice for the next installment of top five than Christmas songs!
I'm absolutely a lover of Christmas music and this list was quite a bit easier to put together than I thought it would be, with my top three being a no-brainer.
Without further ado, in descending order!
#5: All I Want For Christmas Is You
artist: Mariah Carey
I love Mariah. "Daydream" was the second CD I ever bought and one of very few of those early purchases to actually survive the '90s (sorry, Ace of Base, Aqua, etc.). But whether or not you're a fan too, it can't be denied that "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a once-in-a-generation song. It is a serious feat to write a modern-day Christmas song that instantly becomes a bona fide classic just as much as any song that came before it. No one else has done it in the last 50 years, and I truly doubt that anyone's going to do it in the next 50. So good! So joyous! And everyone loves it. Everyone!
#4: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
year written: 1943
favorite version: Frank Sinatra
There's a whole crop of these mid-20th-century Christmas songs. Some of them are blah (ahem, "Here Comes Santa Claus") and some are great ("The Christmas Song," "White Christmas"), but none of them tops this one. I don't even have a whole lot to say about it, actually. It's joyful, warm and nostalgic. The cornerstones of a good, solid Christmas song.
#3: O Holy Night
year written: 1847
favorite version: Celine Dion's (I know, I know) is undeniably flawless.
It's a masterpiece that no other Christmas song will ever touch. It's to Christmas songs what Les Misérables is to musicals. It has everything! Killer melody! Slow build! Dramatic climax! Suspense! (will the singer go for the super high "divine"/"noel" or will they cop out and drop it an octave?) It's perfection, and the best Christmas song ever written.
#2: Fairytale Of New York
artist: The Pogues
year written: 1987
The charm of almost all modern Christmas songs is in how they evoke a warm, nostalgic, I'll-be-home-for-Christmas sense of the holidays that's engineered to simply make you feel good. And that's fine, and something that certainly has its place, but it also rings a little false, or at least flat. It's tame, inoffensive; it makes you feel cheery and pleasant, but that's where it ends.
I could have been someone
Well, so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me, babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I built my dreams around you
I do stand by "O Holy Night" being objectively the best Christmas song ever, but this is my favorite. It was written in the 1500s, but my favorite versions of it were recorded in the last decade. It's just this stunning, haunting melody that transcends genre and time. It's a beautiful, wistful work of art that evokes a feeling of warmth in the dead of winter. The other songs on this list, I've known all my life. I heard this one for the first time only a few years ago, but I immediately felt like I'd known it forever. Forget Christmas, it's one of the prettiest things you'll ever hear.
Tell me your favorites! Traditional songs? Obscure songs? Songs that aren't really "Christmas" in theme but still resonate with you during the holidays? I would love to hear!