Curating a Christmas playlist: what tunes to listen to this holiday season

By Siobhan Elizabeth Ball

Elm Staff Writer

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season is officially upon us.

Right now is the perfect time to make a holiday playlist to get through these tough last weeks of the fall semester. If you are in need of a Christmas song, classic or new, to add to your holiday rotation, here are the seasonal tunes that should be featured on your playlist.

“Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

Released in 1987, this Irish folk-style song is an atypical Christmas classic. Despite never reaching the number one of the United Kingdom’s Christmas charts, it is still a firm fan favorite.

The song tells the story of older Irish-American Broadway stars who wonder if the world will ever be alright. 

“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey

It would not be a Christmas playlist without the “Queen of Christmas” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

This festive tune was produced for Carey’s first Christmas album in 1994, and according to The Economist, the track rakes in $2.5 million per year, making it the best-selling holiday song by a female artist — talk about a girlboss.

“Last Christmas” by Wham!

Surprisingly, one of the most popular Christmas songs has very little to do with Christmas.

Released in 1984 by the British pop duo Wham!, “Last Christmas” is an emotional ballad about facing an ex-partner a year after a failed relationship. While the lyrics mainly follow the singer’s heartache, its ear-worm tune cements this song as a Christmas classic.

“Santa Claus is Comin to Town” by The Jackson 5

In 1970, the Jackson family released the perfect upbeat Christmas tune.

Featured on the family group’s first Christmas album, the song was ranked as number 35 Billboard magazine’s 100 best Christmas songs in 2019.

No matter your age, Young Michael Jackson’s high-spirited crooning will quickly put a smile on anyone’s face.

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby is known as one of the most popular entertainers to take the center stage in mid-20th century America. Originally written for Irving Berlin to perform in the 1942 musical “Holiday Inn,” this iconic Christmas song reminisces on an old-fashioned Christmas.

Now, it is a staple for the child in all of us who wishes for snowfall at Christmastime. 

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee

Originally recorded by 13-year-old Brenda Lee in 1958, this cheerful rockabilly song has everyone “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.”

The song was featured in many beloved Christmas flicks, including “Home Alone,” “Disney’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” and the television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“Driving Home for Christmas” by Chris Rea

Chris Rea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” is the perfect song to play while you travel home from college for the holiday season.

The concept for the song originated from Rea’s experience of being stuck in traffic while the snow was falling as he traveled home for Christmas. He was struck by inspiration and wrote down the lyrics for the song when he stopped at traffic lights. 

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms

Despite the numerous covers of this holiday tune, Helms’ is the most well-known version. The song harkens back to other beloved tracks like “Jingle Bells” and “Rock Around the Clock” to create an entirely new Christmas classic.

It was featured in the classic teen movie “Mean Girls,” and was covered by Lindsay Lohan for her 2022 Netflix film “Falling for Christmas” as a nod to her role in the 2004 film. 

“Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley  

Elvis Presley’s cover of “Blue Christmas” cemented Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson’s original song as a rock-and-roll holiday classic. Released on his 1957 album, “Elvis’ Christmas Album,” Presley’s suave notes cannot hide the track’s focus on a tale about unrequited love at Christmastime.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo caption: Putting together the perfect Christmas playlist is difficult, but it is easy t get wrapped up in the holiday spirit with these fun tunes.

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