My 25 Favorite Christmas Songs

When people listen to my Christmas mixes, they often assume that because a song or two lead the list, they are automatically my favorite Christmas songs. There is some truth to that, but more often than not, I put the more popular songs near the beginning for the benefit of the listener. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are my favorites.

So what exactly are my favorites? Well, believe or not, they’re not always the most popular. In fact, some are songs that were never released for radio play. Still they were the ones I loved the most. And it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of soulful renditions of the classics. But hey, that’s how I was raised.

That being said, here are my favorite 25 Christmas songs of all time and please remember that just because you don’t see a classic or chart-topping tune on the list doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s not a great song. It’s just not among my 25 favorites. Meaning don’t give me that, “How you gon’ have a Top 25 list and not include so-and-so?”

It’s my 25 FAVORITES. MY 25 favorites…

And as a special bonus, I’m linking each of them to YouTube posts, in case you’d like to listen to any of them. I’ve even included a few videos. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

My 25 Favorite Christmas Songs

25. Patti Labelle – This Christmas
Patti’s version was the first time I had ever heard a different rendition of the Donny Hathway classic and believe you me, Patti DID that thing.

24. Kenny Loggins – Celebrate Me Home
Combining the wholesomeness in his voice with a strong gospel chorus makes for one powerful Christmas tune. And that reprise is eye-closing and grin-producing magic.

23. Nancy Wilson – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve
That music box intro leading into Nancy’s sweet voice just feels like a bedtime embrace on starlit Christmas Eve.

22. New Edition – Give Love On Christmas Day
“Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike and Ralph too…”. A return to their iconic phrase to emphasize the message from the fellas as only they could deliver.

21. O’Jays – Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas
Eddie Levert’s raspy sound on top of that doo-wop background always takes me back to that 70s soul. It’s that grown folks kinda tune that teaches Christmas PRESENCE over presents.

20. Ray Parker, Jr. – Christmas Time Is Here
Not to be funny, but Ray Parker, Jr. has the most unintimidating voice, ever. It’s like he’s singing to negotiate a hostage situation to get people home for the holidays. Even that “Ahhhhhmennn” at the end makes you want to hug everyone around you. I guess that’s why I love it so much.

19. Donna Summer – Christmas Spirit
Donna Summer’s strength and purity in volume has always been her asset. It’s no wonder this tribute to Jesus’ purpose makes you stop and appreciate what God has done for us.

18. Stevie Wonder – That’s What Christmas Means To Me
The moment this shoulder-bouncing tune kicks in, all you want to do is dance like the members of Charlie Brown’s Peanuts gang as you decorate the Christmas tree.

17. Christina Aguilera – Merry Christmas, Baby
I’ve heard many versions of this song, but no one has ever made me make that stank face while listening to her kill it with that jazzy horn section. It’s slow-swing jazz at its finest.

16. TLC – Sleigh Ride
This song is just fun, fun, fun. If you ever watched Video Soul on BET back in the 90s, you might remember how Donnie Simpson used to close the Christmas shows with this video. Every time I listen to it, I still see those credits rolling.

15. Luther Vandross – O Come All Ye Faithful
This has to be the most majestic musical version of this song ever recorded! It’s only fitting that the most powerful male voice ever heard be the one to sing it. That orchestra, that choir, that crescendo! Just listen to him sing “Annnnngels” at the 3:02 mark. And that epilogue of an ending: “Come together and adore him…”
Still gives me chills with every play. Miss him so much.

14. Harry Connick Jr. – It Must Have Been Old Santa Claus
I first heard this jolly jazzy tune when he performed it on MadTV (performance below). Fell in love with it then and there.

13. Bebe & Cece Winans – The First Noel
Bebe & Cece are two more voices well known for their calming sound. Bebe’s deep resonance and Cece’s angelic compliment make their version of this traditional favorite a beautiful tune to listen to as the snow falls at night.

12. The Whispers – Happy Holidays To You
A peaceful, relaxing tune with a direct and sincere message. Simply put, “Happy Holidays to you. From The Whispers…”

11. Gerald Alston – O Holy Night
This is the first and only time I have ever heard “O Holy Night” like it was composed in my momma’s church! Alston’s mellow voice on top of the piano intro is a subtle warning that it’s about to go DOWN in the choir loft when he belts alongside the Hammond organ… …and he truly did.

10. Donny Hathaway – This Christmas
I’ve always loved his sound and he doesn’t disappoint, but I think it’s the blaring command of the trumpet and trombone that do it for me. And that boom-boom-boom of the big drum on 1 and 3 during the break feels like a call to gather ’round the Christmas dinner table.

9. Gerald Alston & Shanice Wilson – Christmas Presence
Gerald made the list again! This is a rather sad song about Christmas for a father and daughter who have never met, but long to know one-another. Still, Alston and Wilson both sing with great passion and pain that makes this one that will easily tug at your heartstrings.

8. Jeffrey Osborne – Christmas Time Is Here
I was totally shocked in 1997 to hear a remake of the song made famous in the movie “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Osborne covers it perfectly with his smoothness, maintaining a melancholy yet promising feel that brings a quietness to your spirit and the world around you.

7. Toni Braxton – Holiday Celebrate
This song snuck up on me. Easily one of my favorite Christmas albums, this track has groove, delightfully celestial background singing, and a growling sexiness in the verses that just makes you want to kiss that special someone under the mistletoe (and anything else for that matter). I don’t know what that alternate countermelody is singing at the 3:33 mark, but I LOVE it!

6. Chante’ Moore – Christmas Morn
Ok, first of all, it’s Chante’, my all-time favorite female voice. But admiration aside, she EARNED this spot on my countdown with her sweet opening which quickly morphs into a celebratory churchin’ up! Another artist who knows the value of an unequivocal gospel sound behind a Christmas tribute, she pulls no punches and makes no apologies for her jubilation as she calls out to her choir who answers accordingly and assuredly.

5. Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song
The one that started it all for me. Nat King Cole’s crooning accompanied my mother’s cracking of assorted nuts for her pies the night before Christmas. This song made me snuggle up in a Christmas sweater I didn’t have in front of a fireplace that we didn’t even EXIST. The sweet slur of the violins at the start never fail to remind me of the beauty of this beautiful holiday.

4. Sounds Of Blackness – Soul Holidays
Never before has a song matched its title more appropriately. The energy of this assembly of seasoned voices never dwindles, just as the music’s power never slows or diminishes. This is a song that, the more you listen, the more you want it to play. The rhythm section plays an integral part in the overall flow of this piece, but it’s clear that the members are having a holiday house party to rock the neighborhood straight through to the new year.
Please note that the link in the title above is the full version which contains a beautiful opening. The video below is edited.

3. Temptations – Silent Night
Although they later remade this, nothing can ever top their original version which famously begins with that Dennis Edwards’ iconic line, “In my mind…”. Another amazing song that takes me back to childhood, listening to my father sing Melvin Franklin’s bass part – a smile I will always have and a memory I will forever cherish. This Temptations classic is a must have in anybody’s collection.

2. Boyz II Men – Who Would Have Thought
I have never heard a Christmas romance tune more beautifully sung by four of the most talented voices brought together. This tale of falling in love on Christmas day transports you to a dimly lit ballroom of multi-colored holiday lights, caught in the eyes of your soulmate for the very first time, about to begin a dance that never ends. And just when the song feels as if it is ending (4:13 mark) you are swept into two additional hypnotic minutes of the most soul-soothing ad-libbed serenade. They REALLY should have released this for radio play…
When I sang this in the hospital cafeteria back in the early nineties, I obviously couldn’t do it like the group, but I’m proud to have entertained my audience with it.

1. Luther Vandross – Every Year, Every Christmas
Luther, Luther, Luther! During my first listen it wasn’t hard for this to immediately catapult to my favorite Christmas song of all time. My favorite singer, telling the story of returning to a place and moment of the greatest love, lost. Like “Christmas Presence” (#9 on my list), it’s as painful as it is beautiful to experience. Luther Vandross effortlessly immerses you in his lamentation if you’ve ever been there. Still, it doesn’t take much for you to look beyond the meaning and just sit back and holler, “sannng that song, baby!” to the greatest to ever do it. It’s just unfortunate that we’re always reminded that we are and forever will be without him, every year, every Christmas.


15 Honorable Mentions (remember, they’re still great songs, they’re just not in my favorite 25):

Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad
Burl Ives – Holly Jolly Christmas
The Emotions – What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?
The Carpenters – I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Mel Torme’ – The Christmas Song


And that’s it! What are some of your favorite Christmas songs? Feel free to share them in the section below. And don’t forget to sign up at the bottom for email notification of future posts from Kenny’s Camera, Cooking & Crazy Confessions at ZootsBlogSpot!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Happy Holidays and thank you for the gift of your love.
I receive it. I return it.

Praise God for the gift of His son, through whom, I might have eternal life.

Yes, the Davis tree…

2 comments

  1. While it is undoubtedly a great song, as I said earlier, it’s not among my personal favorites. It will still be played though.

    Thanks for reading!

    Like

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