Listening to music is a surefire way to help set the right tone for a party or event. That’s perhaps never truer than during the holiday season, when a strong playlist of Christmas songs can help create the perfect atmosphere at your gathering with family or friends.
There are no shortage of Christmas songs available to download, of course. And they range from old classics and standards to new and fresh versions of familiar favorites. So we have sorted the wheat from the chaff and compiled a list of the best Christmas songs available to stream over the holidays.
The 30 Christmas songs on this list are all available to stream on Spotify right now. But even if you don’t use Spotify, most (if not all) will also be available on your streaming music service of choice. Or, worst case scenario, there’s always YouTube.
The 30 Best Christmas Songs Available to Stream
We kick off our list with one of the most iconic Christmas songs ever made. There have been many versions of this song recorded by a large swathe of artists, but no version is as classic or as timeless as the one sung by Nat King Cole.
It’s hard to believe that this more modern classic is itself already more than 20 years old. Mariah Carey has recorded a number of Christmas songs and a pair of albums during her career, but no song as memorable (or as fun) as this.
A Charlie Brown Christmas remains one of the top TV specials of the season, and “Christmas Time Is Here” is one of the best songs from the special. This version features vocals, but there’s also an instrumental version you may want to consider for your list.
Louis Armstrong is known for playing the trumpet, of course, but his singing voice is sometimes underrated. Similarly, Armstrong is mainly known for playing jazz, but this Christmas song from the legend is also often underrated. One listen and you’ll be hooked.
You can’t have a proper list of holiday songs without “Jingle Bells”. The question is which one to choose. While there are plenty of good versions out there, our favorite is Frank Sinatra’s version, if only for the J-I-N-G-L-E Bells.
Like many Christmas classics, there are a number of versions of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Some versions border on the somber side, but Fitzgerald’s jazzed-up version is much more fun and lighthearted.
Michael Bublé’s Christmas selections are somewhat of an anomaly. They’re relatively new, particularly compared to many top Christmas songs, but they still hold on to a classic feel. The singer has a handful of good ones, but we recommend you start with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
Christmas songs by the Jackson 5 have a more modern feel compared to some other more classic songs. Yet the voice of a young Michael Jackson keeps the group’s offerings timeless in their own right. One of their best is “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.
Bing Crosby may be forever linked to “White Christmas,” but arguably more notable is this Hawaii-tinged classic. It may also be particularly memorable for those who have seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Speaking of “White Christmas,” this time around check out this slightly sped-up version from The Drifters. Sure, the song was made most famous by Crosby, but The Drifters took it to a whole new — and slightly different — level.
Harry Connick Jr. is another artist that has recorded a number of Christmas songs and albums over the years. He has many strong takes on old standards, but he also has a long list of originals, including this one about a child’s encounter with Santa.
One of the few strictly instrumental selections on this list, “The Sound of Christmas” is exactly what the title says. Put simply, it just sounds like Christmas. Oh, and it also features a funky and jazzy piano solo.
“Blue Christmas” was first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948, but it was made most famous nearly a decade later by The King. His version is now considered a more modern-day rock-and-roll classic.
On “This Time of the Year,” Benton slows it down a bit, so perhaps you’ll consider putting this more toward the end of your holiday song selection. Whatever the case, just make sure that this classic is included.
From the album A Winter Romance, this song from Dean Martin is about what you would expect. That’s a good thing, particularly if you want to include one of the best-known crooners of his era.
It may seem sacrilegious to include a version of “This Christmas” other than Donny Hathaway’s 1970 version. Still, Christina Aguilera definitely holds her own on her more modern rendition of the classic Christmas song.
Just like you can’t have a holiday playlist without “Jingle Bells,” you probably shouldn’t have one without “Jingle Bell Rock” either. There are of course many versions to choose from, but we recommend you stick to the original by Bobby Helms.
Both “Winter Wonderland” and “Sleigh Ride” are must-have holiday standards. While you can certainly find solid versions of each, the two-in-one medley version from Dolly Parton is among the best around.
Like many other songs on this list, there are endless versions of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” And like other songs, it’s probably best to stick with the original version by Brenda Lee.
There are many iterations of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in the running, including the classic from Burl Ives. This time we’ll go with Gene Autry’s classic version of his own song.
The best versions of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” have a hint of sadness to them. Al Green certainly delivers that in his version, along with the smooth soul singing he’s best known for.
Perhaps better known as the tune “O Christmas Tree,” this jazzed-up version from the Vince Guaraldi Trio doesn’t have any singing but makes the perfect background music when baking your Christmas treats.
You probably wouldn’t expect to see the creator of Family Guy on this list. But MacFarlane is a surprisingly effective crooner on the side, and his version of “Christmas Dreaming” shows off his enviable talent.
There aren’t many a cappella songs on this list, but Pentatonix’s version of “Silent Night” is more than worthy of inclusion. It is what they do, after all.
No matter what your preferred style of music is, there’s a version of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” out there for you. Lionel Richie’s version offer a nice modern flavor while also keeping a classic feel.
If Chuck Berry knows anything, it’s how to deliver a rock-and-roll song in the classic 12-bar blues style. He does it to perfection with “Run Rudolph Run.”
There was a time when Mariah Carey was known mainly for her strong and powerful voice. Those were the days. That’s no more evident than on “O Holy Night,” this version being even more impressive considering it was recorded live.
“Silver Bells” is on the list of gold-standard songs for the holidays. There are many good versions out there to choose from, but we think there’s something special about Tony Bennett’s version.
You have to include “Frosty the Snowman” on your holiday list, but the challenge is selecting a favorite version. We veer towards an instrumental version from the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
OK, it may not technically be a Christmas song. But “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” by Nancy Wilson is the perfect song to end any Christmas gathering with family and friends.
What’s Your Favorite Christmas Song of All Time?
Now that you’ve digested our list of the best Christmas songs of all time, you can listen to them all on Spotify by opening the playlist embedded below.
There are so many Christmas songs available to stream, there’s no way we could include every single one. So the rest is up to you.
Do you have a favorite holiday song that didn’t make our list? Then please tell us what it is in the comments section below! There are no right or wrong answers here, just some awesome Christmas songs guaranteed to make the holidays go with a bang.
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