It’s that time of year again! Santa’s got a brand new bag of toys and we here at RX Music have a brand new collection of yuletide holiday tracks that we are digging and programming this season. Or maybe just ones that add a little merriment to our lives and have been a hallmark of the season for years. Unlike projector lights that look like a swarm of fireflies on your house or regifted fruit cakes from that weird aunt, these songs will never go out of style. So light the fire, turn on the (non-projected) lights, pour yourself a cup of gingerbread tea or eggnog (this author must confess he has never tried eggnog before) and enjoy some holiday classics from your friends at RX Music!
“Jingle Bell Rock” – Bobby Helms (and more!)
By: Jonathan Knox
For a Christmas song that is over 65 years old, “Jingle Bell Rock” still manages to be the pinnacle of swinging holiday standards. The 1957 Bobby Helms original remains the best-known version of the song, and still sounds as fun as ever. It is wild to imagine just how fresh it must have sounded back then too, particularly alongside all the other Christmas songs (especially when it references “Rock Around the Clock” – a fairly recent hit at the time). While Helms did do multiple recordings of it over his career (his last one being in 1983) the original unquestionably remains the best, and his best-known song. As with all Holiday standards though, multiple cover versions ensued, with some of the most well-known being from Brenda Lee, Chubby Checker, The Platters, George Strait, Kylie Minogue, and ummm recently – Lindsay Lohan. When it comes to the best version aside from Helms’, let it be a tossup between former duo Daryl Hall and John Oates, who both recorded their own version (still together!) each taking a turn on lead vocals. While the better one is left for you to decide (spoiler: it’s Daryl’s) the fact remains, “Jingle Bell Rock” will always be one of the best holiday songs ever!
“Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord” – Boney M
By: Marite Tshani
“Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord” is a 1978 Christmas Single by Boney M., a cover of Harry Belafonte’s 1957 hit “Mary’s Boy Child”, put in a medley with the new song “Oh My Lord”. Growing up in the streets of Kampala, Uganda in East Africa, this song would play at every single shop, kiosk, and public means of transportation in the last week of November. There would be several vendors walking around the city carrying all types of Christmas decorations and immediately, we would know that the season is upon us. The original “Mary’s Boy Child” is very much in the “religious songs about Jesus” group of Christmas songs. No Santa, snowing or shopping. Which worked out perfect for a country that experiences only tropical weather. Most of the Christmas music in the country was/is centered around Christmas songs about the very first Christmas. Ugandan people love to party around this time, so the Christmas disco bounce in the “Oh My Lord” segment just always added the icing to the cake.
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee
By: Steve Panacci
Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is a festive anthem that has become synonymous with the holiday season. Recorded in 1958 at just 13 years old in Nashville, Lee’s spirited rendition of this Christmas classic has stood the test of time, captivating generations with its infectious energy and joyful lyrics. The song’s upbeat tempo and lively melody make it a go-to track for holiday celebrations, instantly putting people in the festive spirit. Brenda Lee’s youthful and dynamic performance, combined with Johnny Marks’ catchy composition, has solidified the song’s place as a beloved staple in the Christmas music canon. Whether it’s playing on the radio, at holiday parties, or in shopping malls, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” continues to spread holiday cheer and evoke nostalgic memories for listeners worldwide. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” has been covered by numerous artists since its release. In 2023, 65 years after its release, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Brenda Lee the oldest artist to achieve this accolade.
“The Coldest Night of The Year” – Bruce Cockburn
By: Alex Baigent
At face value, Bruce Cockburn’s “Coldest Night of The Year” is not really a Christmas song. Though if it had a few tasteful jingle bells in the mix, and perhaps the mention of spiked eggnog, I don’t think many would question if this showed up in your favorite “Holiday Classics” playlist. Without those markers, “Coldest Night” at its core is about taking shelter from the cold and longing to be with the ones you love. Thematically it sounds a lot like most modern holiday pop hits, right?
“Carol of the Bells” – John Williams
By: Jamie Gemuend
My unwavering passion for music slowly started to develop in the early 1990’s and it all began with film soundtracks & scores. A particular song featured in a Holiday favorite is “Carol of the Bells” by movie maestro, John Williams in the comedy classic, Home Alone. This hauntingly beautiful track is the original work of Ukrainian Composer Mykola Leontovych created in 1914 (formerly not a Christmas song). In 1936, Peter Wilhousky wrote an English version of the Ukrainian melody “Shchedryk” but it was not until 1990 that John Williams revived the chant for American audiences and conducted the Western adaptation of “Carol of the Bells” for Home Alone. The irony of this enchanting Christmas carol is that it primarily evokes an eerie feeling, however, is intended for the most cheerful and joyous season of the year. Nonetheless, the harmonious beauty illuminated by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a Christmas wonder that should never go unheard!
“Oi To The World” – No Doubt
By: Regan McDonnell
No Doubt’s rendition of “Oi to the World” is a festive masterpiece that seamlessly blends the band’s signature ska sound with holiday cheer. Gwen Stefani’s vocals shine with enthusiasm, perfectly complementing the band’s infectious energy. The upbeat tempo and catchy melodies are sure to get you in the holiday spirit, while the lyrics, originally penned by The Vandals, maintain a playful yet heartwarming touch. No Doubt’s “Oi to the World” is a must-listen for those seeking a joyful and alternative twist to their Christmas music repertoire. It’s a delightful blend of the band’s distinctive style and the festive cheer we all crave during the holiday season.
“Wandering Star” – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
By: Zack McNair
In the “Christmas-but-not-Christmas” category, acclaimed Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher pens an uplifting track leaving you with warm vibes for the wintertime. While there’s no outward mention of the holidays or Santa Claus, the track’s jangly production (produced at historic Abbey Road Studios) and its hopeful theme help to construct the perfect December setting. In the track, Gallagher acknowledges the need to occasionally step away from life, without forgetting those who matter most. The end result feels like Noel and his band on your porch, belting an elaborate Christmas carol. British character actors Stephen Graham and real-life spouse Hannah Walters star in the video, portraying flawed yet whimsical parents, handling the holiday pressures in their own way.
“Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney
By: Regan McDonnell
Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is a timeless holiday classic known for its typically-McCartney upbeat melody and catchy chorus, which instantly puts listeners in a cheerfully festive mood. The feel-good lyrics emphasize the joy and togetherness of Christmas, while the iconic synthesizer sound adds a once-modern touch to traditional sounding holiday music, now giving the tune a playfully retro vibe. The song’s universal appeal, memorable chorus, and nostalgic value make it a favorite across generations, contributing to its widespread popularity. As part of McCartney’s vast musical legacy, the song has become a tradition, evoking fond memories and creating a cheerful atmosphere during the holiday season. Overall, “Wonderful Christmastime” is a celebratory and enduring Christmas anthem that continues to bring joy to listeners year after year.
“Christmas Eve” – Perry Como
By: Michael Primiani
If we built the Mount Rushmore of classic holiday crooners – we’d probably have Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and I would give the fourth spot to Perry Como. Sorry Mel Tormé! Sorry Tony Bennett! Sorry Johnny Mathis! Sorry Bing Crosby (who most would put up there, but I find him kind of boring so sorry again). Regarding my fourth head of stone, most people would point to Como’s covers of “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” and “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” as his best and most popular holiday tunes. He made both of them the popular staples they are today, although Big Bad Bing recorded the latter in the same year as Como – two weeks later. However, my Perry Pick is none other than his 1968 tune “Christmas Eve” recorded for his 1894839th holiday album called The Perry Como Christmas Album. This song is gorgeous and so mellon collie and nostalgia. Dare I say a dip into dream pop, or if there was a Christmas song off Pet Sounds. Como’s calming voice on top of a bed of background singers with light snare taps and the twinkling of xylophones and triangles abound really get to me. Christmas Eve is a very special time for my family and I and this song seems wrapped up in the same magic. This song echoes with the ghosts of my Christmas past, present and future. However, instead of a foreboding hooded druid as the Ghost of Christmas Future, it’s Perry Como in a holiday sweater and a cup of eggnog in his hand for me to try (see the intro to this article). A great and dare I say underrated Christmas standout. Perry Christmas everyone, and to all a good night!
How did he make 1894839 Christmas song albums and not call any of them “Perry Christmas” what in the…
You can check out all these cool Christmas tunes in the Spotify link below: