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The 40 Best Christmas Songs Of All Time

PHOTO: (1) Last Christmas/School Boy/Interscope Records, (2) All I Want for Christmas Is You/Columbia Records, (3) Under the Mistletoe/Island Records

In no particular order, except for no. 1, which is exactly where it’s supposed to be.

1. "All I Want For Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey

The gold standard of Christmas songs, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is capable of putting you in a holiday mood within the first five seconds. You could hear this in the middle of July and not even get mad about it.

2. "Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses

The timeless tale of a meet-cute in the checkout line.

3. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays," *NSYNC

It's physically impossible to not bob your head to this every time it comes on in a Starbucks in December.

4. "Drummer Boy," Justin Bieber feat. Busta Rhymes 

Sorry, every other person who's recorded this song, but Justin's take is far and away the greatest version on offer (and the only one that includes a verse where Busta Rhymes sends holiday wishes to his Twitter followers).

5. "Christmas in Harlem," Kanye West feat. Cyhi the Prince and Teyana Taylor 

A modern classic. In 20 years, your kids will hate it as much as you hate it when your dad puts on "Wonderful Christmastime."

6. "Last Christmas," Carly Rae Jepsen 

The original Wham! version is great too, but it's just so hard to resist that sax.

7. "What Christmas Means to Me," Stevie Wonder 

Two and a half minutes of pure holiday joy.

8. "8 Days Of Christmas," Destiny's Child 

Destiny's Child's Christmas album, also titled 8 Days of Christmas, is an underrated gem, but this track stands out for its oh-so-2001 list of Christmas wishes: dirty denim jeans, a diamond belly ring, and "a gift certificate to get my favorite CDs."


9. "Frosty The Snowman," The Ronettes

Ronnie Spector's New Yawk accent makes the word "Frosty" sound a hundred times cooler.

10. "Santa Tell Me," Ariana Grande

Ariana asks Santa for something that really matters: an opinion on whether or not a man is worth her time.

11. "Silent Night," Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

The late Sharon Jones adds soul and swing to a ubiquitous standard.

12. "My Only Wish (This Year)," Britney Spears 

It is a travesty that the world has never gotten a full Britney Christmas album. (There's still time, Britney!)

13. "Sleigh Ride," TLC

Only TLC could make a sleigh ride in the freezing cold sound sexy.

14. "Jingle Dem Bells," RuPaul feat. Big Freedia and Ellis Miah 

If only bounce had existed when James Lord Pierpont wrote the original "Jingle Bells."

15. "Christmastime Is Here," Vince Guaraldi Trio

Guaranteed to fill humans of all ages with uncontrollable nostalgia.

16. "Everybody Knows The Claus," Hanson

Snowed In was good, OK? Don't fight it.

17. "Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt

What's the point of Santa if he can't bring you something extravagant?

18. "Mistletoe," Ginuwine 

Like "Pony," but for the holidays.

19. "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," Julian Casablancas

What started as a joke on Saturday Night Live is now a new classic perfect for those times when you just can’t stand one more round of "Winter Wonderland."

20. "Pretty Paper," Willie Nelson

Best consumed while tearing open presents you know your mom spent hours perfecting.

21. "Christmas In Hollis," Run-D.M.C.

One of those times you can say "iconic" and mean it.

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22. "Hard Candy Christmas," Dolly Parton 

There's nothing like a weepy country song to put you in the mood for hanging out with your family.

23. "The Christmas Song," Ella Fitzgerald

You don't even care that you've heard this song a thousand times when Ella Fitzgerald sings it.

24. "Ribbons And Bows," Kacey Musgraves 

Kacey's Christmas album only came out two months ago, but this peppy tune does what every good holiday song should do and gets stuck in your head immediately.

25. "O Holy Night," Mariah Carey

Yes, there are two Mariah Carey songs on this list, but that's because Mariah Carey excels at Christmas music. In lesser hands, this song is a melodramatic slog, but Mariah and her backup choir make it a truly religious experience.

26. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love 

A song so emotionally effective that you'll pine for your baby to come home even if he's sitting right next to you.

27. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," Cat Power

A gorgeous, understated interpretation of a holiday radio staple.

28. "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee 

It's really the only way to behave around a Christmas tree.

29. "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," the Jackson 5

The jazz hands throw themselves in the air.

30. "Scrooge," the Muppets

It's tough to pick just one song from The Muppet Christmas Carol (the greatest Christmas movie of our time, no arguments), but anyone born in the '80s can tell you that this is the one most likely to inspire a drunken sing-along at the annual holiday viewing. Should you get dumped this season, it'll also double as an excellent breakup song.


31. "To Heck With Ole Santa Claus," Loretta Lynn

Santa Claus is basically just a home invader who steals food and lets his reindeer poop all over your yard. Loretta Lynn gets it.

32. "Break Up Holiday," Dude York

Christmas is all fun and games till you have to see your ex at a holiday party.

33. "I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun," Beach House

It's only a Christmas song in the sense that the lyrics are about snowflakes and there are jingle bells, but that's all you really need, right?

34. "This Gift," 98 Degrees

The gift is sex, right?

35. "Joy To The World," Earth, Wind & Fire

The most dance-inducing version of this song ever recorded.

36. “Mistletoe," Justin Bieber

There are too many Bieber Christmas songs, said no one ever.

37. "Bring Me Love," John Legend

TBH, John Legend's entire Christmas album, A Legendary Christmas, should be on here.

38. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," Bruce Springsteen

A.k.a. seven minutes of uninterrupted holiday fun from your dad’s favorite musician of all time.

39. "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)," Alvin and the Chipmunks

Long before *NSYNC, there was Alvin and the Chipmunks—the adorable, animated vocal trio who performed under the guidance of their human, Dave, who kept everyone in line.

40. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," The Temptations

Do you remember the order of the reindeer? Let the Motown group take you way back.


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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