As much as we all love the traditional Christmas carols like “Silent Night” and “Deck the Halls”, some of the best festive songs of all time have come from pop stars and post-war crooners. From Bing Crosby to John Lennon, here are seven of the best modern Christmas songs ever written.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland
You may be familiar with Frank Sinatra’s popular version of this song, but did you know it was originally performed by Judy Garland in the musical film Meet Me in St. Louis? In 2007 it was ranked by the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers as the third most-performed Christmas song, and has seen covers by the likes of Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald and James Taylor.
“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry
Few songs get you in that giddy holiday spirit quite like “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Written by Johnny Marks, the song was inspired by the 1939 story of the same name and has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions. The wildly popular tune has been covered by Dean Martin, The Jackson 5, Paul McCartney, Ray Charles and hundreds more.
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
How could we not include the best-selling single (and that includes all genres, not just Christmas music!) of all time? Written by Irving Berlin about an idyllic, traditional white winter Christmas and first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1942, “White Christmas” is also the most-recorded Christmas song of all time, with versions from Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand and more.
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon & Yoko Ono
What began as a protest song against the Vietnam War has become a Christmas favourite, covered by the likes of Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Diana Ross and more. Released in 1971 by the Plastic Ono Band, it peaked on the UK charts at number two after Lennon’s death on December 8, 1980.
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid
As catchy as it is poignant, supergroup Band Aid’s charity song was created by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Africa and became the fastest-selling single in UK history. Featuring vocals from Bono, George Michael, Sting, Boy George and more, the song has been re-recorded three times with new vocalists to raise money for famine relief and, in 2014, Ebola.
“Last Christmas” by Wham!
If after simply reading the title of this song has it stuck in your head already, you’re not alone. Infuriatingly catchy yet undeniably great, “Last Christmas” continues to re-enter the charts each year in many countries, and according to Spotify was the most-listened to single on Christmas Day in 2013.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
Perhaps her most popular and well-known song, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has become a modern classic since it was released in 1994. Within just over 20 years, the critically acclaimed tune, co-written by Carey herself, was dubbed a “new holiday standard” by Rolling Stone. And who could forget that incredible cover version in the beloved 2003 holiday film, Love Actually?
Tell us in the comments below what’s your favourite Christmas song of all time?