Christmas music has the distinction of being loved for just two months of the year and discarded for the rest. When the time comes to unearth it (or download), everyone has their favorites. Here are some of mine.
10. Silver & Gold – Burl Ives (1958?).
What’s not to love from Santa Clause himself. The comforting sound of the South, Mr. Ives made anything sound great and has a long list of Christmas hits. Like the wonderful “Holly Jolly Christmas”, many have covered this song, but his version has a soft spot in the hearts of millions for more than a half century.
9. Last Christmas – Wham! (1983).
This was Wham! at their most soft and sappy. George Micheal’s magnificent hair and voice would grow to such fame that he would leave for super stardom on his own not long after this was released. RIP George.
8. Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie & Bing Crosby (1977).
Whats not to love these when two greats come together under awkward circumstances to create a modern classic? The song is mixed with a newer composition called “Peace on Earth” for added freshness.
7.All I Want For Christmas – Mirah Carry (1994).
You have to give it up to Mirah. She wrote and produced this bouncy song (along with its album)all by herself. Her unnatural range is not tapped here, but she uses melody and upbeat arrangements to create a song that has been covered by more that two dozen artists since it’s release.
6. Santa Clause Is Coming To Town – Jackson Five (1970).
There were so many great Jackson 5 Christmas songs that’s it’s difficult to peg just one. It’s still difficult to accept that this sweet voice that all the world watched mature into a superstar is gone.
5.Christmas Wrappings – The Waitresses (1982).
This has to be the first time I’d heard a new wave version of a Christmas song. It remains one of the most clever and enduring holiday anthems of Generation X.
4. Another Lonely Christmas – Prince and the Revolution (1984).
Everyone’s all happy and gleeful and out comes Prince with one of the most gloomy suicide inducing holiday songs ever. It’s an absolute gem of Purple Rain era bliss.
3. What Child Is This – Vanessa Williams (1987).
All should have been forgiven about Vanessa’s fallen Ms America crown once this sophisticated jazz rendition hit the airwaves. Its one of those rare holiday songs that has a shelf life beyond December.
2. Christmas Time Is Hear – Vince Guaraldi (1965).
Another childhood favorite. One song out of an album’s worth of timeless beauty. This composition may have been my subconscious entry into the world of jazz. For that I’m forever grateful.
1. This Christmas – Donny Hathaway (1970). This song has been covered by so many, yet no one comes close (except CeLo) at capturing the brilliance of Hathaway’s warm and inviting delivery. One of the few Christmas songs I could listen to all year round, Hathaway could sing a jingle for a Depends commercial and I would love it.
Some notable mentions:
- Let It Snow – Boyz II Men (1993).
Basically a Christmas a booty call. The slick ’90s sound might be dated, but the beautiful harmonies almost makes you forget that they are singing about a Christmas in bed.
- Do They Know it’s Christmas – Band Aid (1985).
This is one of those holiday songs that makes me sad – which was it’s intent. Maybe one of the first of it’s kind to bring awareness to global hunger issues.
- Do You Hear What I Hear – Whitney Houston (1987).
I’ve always liked this song and Whitney’s version brings her brand of elegance with sweet gospel overtones. Makes you miss that pre-Bobby splendor.