I should add a big huge fat note that these are MY favorite Christmas songs and not what I consider to be the greatest of all time. Also, you are going to notice from my list that I have a very specific type of Christmas music that I prefer: female Jazz vocalists. What can I say? I know what I like.
10. “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” – Paul McCartney: Back in my hometown, there is a radio that played Christmas music beginning earlier and earlier each year (i’m sure a lot of you can relate). This was my main discovery from that radio station. This is partly a nostalgic pick because a friend on my high school carpool and I would get really excited when it came on. Probably because it is one of a kind and wasn’t Michael Bolton singing some song that has been recorded a million times. They played a lot of that kind of stuff.
9. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Julie London: This one has been recorded a few times but I dare you to find one that is, well, sexier. This recording and her voice really makes you believe that she has got some love to keep her warm, if you know what I’m sayin’.
8. “The Christmas Waltz” – Nancy Wilson: It should be noted that when I was about 13, my dad got these Christmas CDs called Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails and I became obsessed. Most of the songs on this list come from those CDs and I am ever grateful to them for discoveries like Ms. Nancy Wilson. This is a great, not overly played Christmas song and my favorite version of it.
7. “Little Saint Nick” – The Beach Boys: I had the Beach Boys Christmas album on a cassette tape when I was about 7, so you can just imagine little Ellen bumping this on her Boombox. Yeah, this one is definitely a nostalgic pick.
6. “Sleigh Ride” – Ella Fitzgerald: Remember what I said about my preference for jazzy female vocalists? Well, it doesn’t get much better than Ella. She just makes every Christmas song… cooler. I highly recommend her Christmas album. I mean, it’s called Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. What’s not to like?
5. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Judy Garland: This one falls under the “Classic Christmas” category, and of course, the original Judy Garland version from Meet Me in St. Louis is the best.
4. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” – Nancy Wilson: Now, you may argue with me that this is not a real Christmas song because it is about New Year’s Eve, right? Wrong. The whole premise of the song is the singer is asking early to get a leg up on the competition. While the recent Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt video is pretty good because I am sucker for some ukulele, Nancy Wilson’s version still reigns supreme in my book.
3. “All I Want For Christmas” – Mariah Carey: The newest song on the list and the only Christmas recording from the past 20 years that should be on this list. This song is fabulous, everyone knows it. It is only bettered by the fact that it is featured so prominently in one of my favorite movies of all time, Love Actually.
2. “The Man with the Bag” – Kay Starr: I love this song! Another one that I probably like more because it is not played non-stop throughout the course of the Christmas season, but also it is fun, jazzy and has a great vocal. Favorite line has to be “Everybody’s waitn’, they’re all congregatin'”
1. “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole: This one had to be number one. I know that it is number one on a lot of these lists, but it is for good reason. There are few songs that make you really feel like it is Christmas, but this one always delivers. I can’t help but get that warm, happy feeling and be transported to a some big cozy chair in front of a glowing Christmas tree and warm fireplace. Can you?
What do you think? Do you disagree with my list? Guess what? I don’t care if you do. But let me know some of your favorites regardless. If you didn’t already see them, check out my favorite Christmas movies, TV episodes, and specials.