Holiday Hits: Songs Required For Your Christmas Playlist

Alexa, play Christmas Music…

Nothing can get one into the Christmas spirit quicker than a good holiday hit. Whether you are putting up decorations, baking cookies, having a holiday party or on the way to the mall for some gift shopping, the right seasonal songs set the mood. 

Here at Loop Magazine, we are holiday music fanatics and have curated a list of songs that are sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey  (1994)

This playlist has to start with the anthem of Christmas. Even when you Google this festive hit, snowflakes fall from the top of your browser window. The 1994 song was released as a single for Mariah Carey’s holiday album Merry Christmas. It allegedly only took her and her song writing partner, Walter Afanasieff, only 15 minutes to write the song, and she was very adamant of the direction of it. 

The Christmas classic has broken records on the Billboard Hot 100, including in 2021 when it returned to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for its 6th non-consecutive year. This year, in 2023, Billboard ranked it as the #1 Greatest Holiday song of all time.

Standout Lyrics:  
I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you

“Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande (2014)

Ariana Grande’s 2014 Christmas single makes this list for its fun pop beat and catchy lyrics. The song was written by Savan Kotecha and ILYA, and Kotecha claimed the idea came to him during a shower, and he immediately made a voice note after stepping out. 

When released, the song was called “cute” by music critics, but they believed it lacked the substance to become a Christmas staple. However, almost 10 years later, “Santa Tell Me” is one of the 10 most streamed Christmas songs of all time on Spotify.

Standout Lyrics:  
Santa, tell me if you’re really there
Don’t make me fall in love again
If he won’t be here next year
Santa, tell me if he really cares
‘Cause I can’t give it all away
If he won’t be here next year

“Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra (1957)

Frank Sinatra is an American icon. He has sold an estimate of 150 million records worldwide, which includes his four Christmas albums, Christmas Songs by Sinatra (1948), A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (1957), 12 Songs of Christmas with Bing Crosby and Fred Waring (1964), and The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas with Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Sinatra and Tina Sinatra (1968). He released his debut album in 1946 and would go on to have 59 albums under his discography before passing away in 1998. 

Not only a singer, he became an actor and even won an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe. For his music, he has received 11 Grammy Awards.

Standout Lyrics:
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC (1998)

‘90s heartthrob boy band *NSYNC has also contributed their vocal talents towards some holiday hits. In fact, their second studio album was a holiday album. Their single “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” comes from their 1998 release Home For Christmas. 

The band wanted to have a fun, pop energy and even had some creative direction in the single’s music video, including featuring Gary Colemean as the elf.

Standout Lyrics:
It’s a wonderful feeling (Hey, yeah yeah)
Feel the love in the room from the floor to the ceiling
It’s that time of year

Christmas time is here

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee (1958)

No one would ever guess that Brenda Lee was only 13 years old when she recorded this Christmas classic in 1958. Since then, the song has not only sold millions of copies and been covered by numerous artists, but it was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2019. 

This year, Lee recorded a music video to go along with the iconic song, and it created enough buzz for “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” to top the Billboard Hot 100. This amazing accomplishment made Lee the oldest artist to ever hold a number one spot at 79 years old. She also broke the record for longest time period between original release and number one spot on the charts with a 65 year difference!

Standout Lyrics:
Rockin’ arounf the Christmas tree
At the Christmas party hop
Mistletoe hung where you can see
Every couple tries to stop

“Last Christmas” by Ariana Grande (2013)

Ariana Grande took a risk when she recorded a typically slow and dreary Christmas classic with an upbeat and energetic pop tune. Her interpretation of “Last Christmas” took fans by storm when the song that usually conveys sadness and reflection mixed in additional emotions such as anger and disbelief with added lyrics such as “You blew it, how could you do it?” 

Surprisingly, studies show that Grande’s rendition of “Last Christmas” is actually one of the most distracting Christmas songs and is not encouraged to be played in work environments or while driving. Therefore, maybe keep this one for social events!

Standout Lyrics:
How could you leave Christmas mornin’?
You broke my heart with no warnin’
Boy, you blew it
How could you do it, do it?
Oh, yeah
But the very next day you gave it away (you gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears (oh, baby)
I’ll give it to someone special

“Deck The Rooftops” by Glee Cast (2010)

Get two iconic Christmas songs in one with “Deck The Rooftops” performed by the Glee Cast. Glee has some underrated Christmas albums, and this is one of their best hits. This mash-up of “Deck The Halls” and “Up On The Rooftop” was never featured in an episode, but made its way onto Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album. It’s the only mash-up in the entire series to never be featured on an episode but still receive its own title. Standout Lyrics: Deck the halls, he’s up on the rooftop First comes the stocking of little Neil Oh dear Santa, fill it well Give her a dolly that laughs and cries One that will open and shut her eyes

“DJ Play a Christmas Song” by Cher (2023)

The 1970s icon is back and better than ever, as Cher has released a Christmas album. The most popular track and lead single  is “DJ Play a Christmas Song” which she performed at the Macy’s Day Parade. She also performed it at the 2023 Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting.

Standout Lyrics:
DJ, play a Christmas song 
I wanna be dancing all night long
It’s cold outside, but it’s warm in here 
And that’s the only thing I want this year

“Underneathe Tree” by Kelly Clarkson (2013)

With a powerhouse voice, it is no secret that Kelly Clarkson can sing and write some amazing Christmas songs. “Underneath The Tree” comes from her sixth studio album and first Christmas album Wrapped in Red. Since its release in 2013, critics have praised the song for its ability to become a Christmas classic. Some have even compared it to number one on this list, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey as it has charted every Christmas season since its release.

Standout Lyrics:
You’re here where you should be
Snow is falling as the carolers sing
It just wasn’t the same
Alone on Christmas day

Presents, what a beautiful sight 
Don’t mean a thing if you ain’t holding me tight 
You’re all that I need 
Underneath the tree

“A Nonsense Christmas” by Sabrina Carpenter (2022)

One of the newer songs on this list is “A Nonsense Christmas” by Sabrina Carpenter, who is currently one of Taylor Swift’s opening acts on her Eras Tour. This holiday song is actually a spicy twist on Carpenter’s regular song “Nonsense” off her album Emails I Can’t Send. “Nonsense” describes feeling crazy while having a crush while “A Nonsense” Christmas talks about certain holiday activities couples can do together. It’s the perfect song to create a remix of as Carpenter makes a unique outro for each city when she performs the non-festive version live.

Standout Lyrics:
You’re my wishlist
Lookin’ at you got me thinkin’ Christmas
Snowflakes in my stomach when we’re kissin’
When you’re comin’ down the chimney, ooh, it feels so good
I need that Charles Dickens
You be Santa Claus and I’ll be Mrs.
I’ll take you for a ride, I’ll be your vixen
I don’t even know I’m talking Christmas

“Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt (1953)

Eartha Kitt created quite a stir when she released “Santa Baby” in 1953. Many called in her weakest work or that it was too suggestive for the holiday season. However, despite the critics, “Santa Baby” became the top-selling Christmas song of 1953. 

The song performed with Henri René and His Orchestra has continually re-entered the charts each holiday season and has been covered by and referenced by many artists. Many have claimed that Kitt was ahead of her time in taking power of her femininity and sexuality.

Standout Lyrics:
Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s
I really do believe in you
Let’s see if you believe in me
Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing
A ring, I don’t mean on the phone 

Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

“Christmas in Hollis” by Run D.M.C (1987)

Run D.M.C does not have a Christmas album of their own, but contributed this song to two Christmas compilation albums: A Very Special Christmas and Christmas Rap. Bill Adler was the mastermind behind A Very Special Christmas, and was originally turned down by Run D.M.C to contribute a song. Run D.M.C did not agree until Adler proposed the idea of “Christmas in Hollis,” which would pay homage to their neighborhood in Queens, New York. The music video takes place in both Hollis and the North Pole.

Standout Lyrics:
It’s Christmastime in Hollis Queens
Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens 

Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese 
And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees 

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Jessica Simpson (2004)

Everyone’s heard “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” but not many have heard it performed by Jessica Simpson. Released in 2004, the singer and actress performs the Christmas classic alongside a church choir and gives a soulful rendition of the Christmas classic. It makes sense that Simpson sounds like she is a space where she belongs, as she started her singing career through church choirs as a child.

Standout Lyrics:
Hark! The herald angels sing. Glory to the new born King
Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled 

“We Need A Little Christmas” by Johnny Mathis (1986)

Not many broadway songs make it to mainstream media, but “We Need A Little Christmas” is definitely an exception. The song originally comes from the broadway musical Mame, and was first performed in 1966 by Angela Lansburry. 

The scene takes place during The Wall Street Crash of 1929, and the title character sings the song to cheer up her nephew and maids. Since then, it’s been performed by a variety of artists including the iconic Johnny Mathis who recorded the song in 1986 for his Christmas album Christmas Eve With Johnny Mathis.

Standout Lyrics:
Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again

Fill up the stocking 
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now
For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms (1957)

Many artists have tried, but it is hard to beat the original 1957 recording of “Jingle Bell Rock” recorded by Bobby Helms. The song of course alludes to the traditional Christmas song “Jingle Bells,” but it also references other popular 1950s songs including “Rock Around the Clock” and “Jingle Hop.” 

Since its recording, the song has made appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 each holiday season, but it did not break into the top 10 until 2019, breaking the record at the time for the longest period of time between original release and making top 10 on the charts.

Standout Lyrics:
Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time
Dancin’ and prancin’ in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole (1946)

Gone too soon was the amazing talent of Nat King Cole. Born in 1919, he began a jazz career in the early 1930s and would have a career that spanned into the 1960s and reached mainstream audiences. 

In 1960, he released his first Christmas album, The Magic of Christmas, which would become the best selling Christmas song of the decade. The album continues to hold cultural significance as Rolling Stone included it in top 40 essential Christmas albums of all time in 2019. The main track off the album, “The Christmas Song” would go on to become the holiday tune the 20th century singer was known for and finally made it to the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 in 2022, breaking the record for longest period between original release and making top 10 on the charts.  

Standout Lyrics:
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with all their eyes all aglow 

Will find it hard to sleep tonight 
They know that Santa’s on his way 
He’s loaded with lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love (1963)

Originally released in 1963, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” was not immediately the Christmas staple that is today. It did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 until 2018, and its highest ranking has been #16. It has ranked #7 on the Holiday 100 Chart. 

A fun fact about this song is that Cher performed the background vocals for this song, and Darlene Love returned the favor for Cher’s 2023 version.

Standout Lyrics:
Pretty lights on the tree
(Christmas) I’m watching them shine
(Christmas) You should be here with me
(Christmas) Baby please come home

“Snowman” by Sia (2017)

“Snowman” is one of the top singles from Sia’s eighth studio album which is also her Christmas album, Everyday is Christmas. The song was written by the Australian singer herself and co-collaborator Greg Kurstin

While released in 2017, the song became more popular in 2020 when it was the center of a TikTok challenge where users attempted to sing a 40 second section of the song in one breath. By December 2022, “Snowman” made it into the top 10 most streamed Christmas singles of all time on Spotify.

Standout Lyrics:
I want you to know that I’m never leaving
‘Cause I’m Mrs. Snow, ’til death we’ll be freezing
Yeah, you are my home, my home for all seasons
So come on, let’s go

“Last Christmas” by Wham! (1984)

British duo George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley created a Christmas heartbreak anthem in 1984. Michael actually wrote “Last Christmas” in his childhood bedroom while he and Ridgeley were visiting his parents. When they recorded the song in August of 1984, they decorated the London Advision Studio in Christmas decorations to set the mood. 

Even though it’s great commercial success, it held the #2 spot in the UK charts for 5 consecutive weeks, falling below Band-Aid’s “Do They Know Christmas?,” which Michael is also featured on. In fact, it did not reach a number one spot until January 2021.

Standout Lyrics:
Once bitten, twice shy
I keep my distance, but you still catch my eye
Tell me baby, do you recognize me?
Well, it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me

“What Christmas Means To Me” by Stevie Wonder (1967)

Stevie Wonder is considered a pioneer for contemporary R&B. His style is definitely shown in his eighth studio album and Christmas album Someday at Christmas, which includes the track “What Christmas Means To Me.” 

The album actually was underrated and unsuccessful in chart appearances upon its release, but in 2020 reached 28 on Billboard’s Top Holiday Albums. John Legend also covered Wonder’s version of “What Christmas Means To Me” and featured him on it in 2018.

Standout Lyrics:
I see your smilin’ face, like I never seen before
Even though I love ya madly, it seems I love you more
The little cards you’ll give me, will touch my heart for sure
All these things and more, darling (all these things and more)
Whoa, that’s what Christmas means to me my love

“Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber (2011)

Whether you are a Belieber or not, you are probably aware of Justin Bieber’s hit Christmas song, “Mistletoe.” Bieber wrote the Christmas hit with his producers Nasri Atweh and Adam Messinger. The 2011 song comes off his second studio album and Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe and was the leading single. Upon its release, it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard charts, breaking the record for highest debut of a holiday song on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Standout Lyrics:
Reindeer’s flying through the sky so high
I should be making a list, I know
But I’ma be under the mistletoe

“Drummer Boy” by Justin Bieber ft. Busta Rhymes (2011)

While “Mistletoe” was universally loved upon its release, one of Bieber’s other holiday tracks, “Drummer Boy” caused a divide. The Canadian pop star took the traditional Christmas song by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone and put it against a pop beat as well as included a rap where Bieber situated himself as the little drummer boy and also talked about charity and poverty. Busta Rhymes was also featured and gave a verse about the holidays. 

Many believed Bieber’s version took away from the song’s traditional meaning, but in recent years has made a comeback as younger audiences like the song’s randomness, unexpected verses and collaboration.

Standout Lyrics:
If you wanna give, it’s the time of year
JB on the beat, yeah yeah, I’m on the snare
It’s crazy how some people say, say they don’t care
When there’s people on the street with no food, it’s not fair
It’s about time for you to act merrily
It’s about time for you to give to charity

“Santa, Can’t You Hear Me” by Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande  (2021)

We can’t think of a better duo than Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande. The two pop icons came together for their 2021 Christmas single “Santa, Can’t You Hear Me.” The song comes from Clarkson’s ninth studio album and second Christmas album When Christmas Comes Around. 

The song received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback including “The Best Christmas Song Ever” on Cosmopolitan’s 50 Modern Christmas Songs.”  

Standout Lyrics:

What I want for Christmas
Hasn’t come and I’ve been so blue
Tell me, what can I do? Oh yeah
Keep the mistletoe (keep the mistletoe)
Unless below is what I need (what I need)
Santa, can’t you hear me?

“Like It’s Christmas” by Jonas Brothers (2019)

Everyone loves that the Jonas Brothers reunited as a band a few years ago. In 2019, they released their fourth Christmas song ever and their first one in 10 years. “Like It’s Christmas” made its way to the number one spot in the Adult Contemporary Chart December 2019 and peaked at number 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 January 2020.

Standout Lyrics:

You make everyday feel like its Christmas
Never wanna stop
Feelin’ like the first thing on your wishlist
Right up at the top
I can’t deny what I’m feeling inside
Nothin’ fake about the way you bring me to life

“My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears (2000)

Nothing beats early 2000s Britney Spears and that includes her holiday hit “My Only Wish (This Year).” The song was written and produced by Brian Kierulf and Josh Schwartz, and it was originally on the compilation album Platinum Christmas. It did not receive its own digital single until 2020, and this year a speed or slowed version was also released. 

In 2021, Billboard included “My Only Wish (This Year) on their 100 best Christmas songs of all time and in 2023, Forbes included it in their 15 Most Iconic Christmas Pop Songs of All Time. 

Standout Lyrics:

Santa, can you hear me?
I have been so good this year
And all I want is one thing
Tell me my true love is here
He’s all I want, just for me
Underneath my Christmas tree

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Pentatonix (2016)

The earliest versions of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” can be dated back to 1650 manuscripts. Historically the phrase means “May God grant you peace and happiness” and more modern scripts have become staple Christmas carols. 

One of the most well known recordings comes from the acapella group Pentatonix, who got their start on NBC’s The Sing Off. While they started as a pop group, they quickly merged into the holiday genre and have multiple Christmas albums including their 2016 album “A Pentatonix Christmas,” where their track “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is. Their live performances and music video of the song have been nominated for awards including a Daytime Emmy and Acapella Video Awards.

Standout Lyrics:

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy 

“Oh Santa!” by Mariah Carey (2010)

Everyone knows Mariah Carey for “All I Want For Christmas,” but one cannot forget her 2010 Christmas hit “Oh Santa!” The song comes off her second Christmas album and thirteenth studio album Merry Christmas II You. 

In classic Mariah holiday fashion, “Oh Santa!” broke chart records debuting at number 12 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and reached the number one spot in just 2 weeks, making it the fastest climb in the chart’s history. Since then, Carey has rerecorded the song featuring Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson.

Standout Lyrics:

I saw them shopping last week 
And his new girl was so bleak
And then I swore to myself 
Santa’s gonna come and make you mine this Christmas night
Santas’s gon’ come and make you mine this Christmas

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Bublé (2011)

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” dates back to 1951 when it was written by Meredith Willson. Rumors are Willson was inspired by the Yarmouth Grand Hotel or the Historic Park Inn Hotel in his hometown Mason City, Iowa. 

The song was featured in Willson’s broadway play Here’s Love, and has been covered by many artists, including Michael Bublé. His rendition was released in 2011 on his Christmas album “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” starts the album as the first track and was the second single released from it.

Standout Lyrics:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well
It’s the sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” by Gwen Stefani ft. Blake Shelton (2017)

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” is the title track of Gwen Stefani’s fourth studio album and first Christmas album. She recorded the single with now husband Blake Shelton, and the song actually caused Stefani to break into countries and territories where her tracks had not previously charted.

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” and its album was a spur of the moment decision as Stefani was struck with inspiration during the holiday season prior to its release. When writing the single and its accompanying songs, the singer listened to her favorite childhood Christmas albums because she wanted to create a throwback feel. 

Standout Lyrics:

I want to thank the storm that brought the snow
Thanks to the string of lights that make it glow
But I wanna thank you, baby
You make it feel like Christmas

“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” by Bruce Springsteen (1975)

Another classic holiday tune is “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band put a rock and roll twist on it in 1975. The actual track was not released until 1981 on a Sesame Street compilation and was popular on the radio. There were a series of live performances of the song in the 1980s where Springsteen and the band encouraged the crowd to sing significant portions of the song.

Standout Lyrics:

Everybody out there been good, or what?
Oh that’s not many, not many, you guys are in trouble out here!
Come on.
Yeah, you better watch out, you better not cry.
You better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

“Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano (1970)

Originally recorded in 1970, Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano brought a traditional Spanish holiday greeting to mainstream audiences. In 2010, it was inducted into The Grammy Hall of Fame. One of the simpelist Christmas songs, it only comprises of a few lines repeating themselves. Luciano stated he wrote the song one Christmas when he was feeling homesick in Los Angeles while his family was still in New York. Despite its popularity now, the song did not actually reach the charts until 1998 when it earned a spot on the Adult Contemporary Chart and then on The Radio Songs chart. 

Standout Lyrics:

Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad
Próspero año y felicidad 
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas 
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas 
From the bottom of my heart

Related | Festive AF: Holidat Bars in LA