Best and Worst Christmas Songs



I’ve always struggled with the notion that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  I understand why we say it, but when I was young, part of me always assumed it was just something we say to spare the feelings of stupid people – because some people aren’t entitled to their own opinion, because some opinions are wrong.

I can entertain the notion that The Who is a better band than The Beatles.  I disagree, but you’re allowed to have that opinion.  But you’re not allowed to believe that the Goo Goo Dolls are better than both.  You’re not entitled to that opinion, because that’s not an opinion at all.  It’s lunacy masked by the veneer of opinion – which is what half of the Internet has become.

Throughout the year, it’s hard to scroll through your Twitter feed without coming across one of these “opinions”, but it’s harder still during the holiday season, when we reignite the conversations about best and worst movies and gifts and cartoons and foods and traditions and, of course, songs.

I read a list that had “Rudolph” as the best Christmas song of all time.  It was the list of someone not entitled to opinions.  Because that opinion is wrong.

These opinions, though, are right.  The five worst and 10 best Christmas Songs of all time:


5) Santa Baby – Madonna: Santa’s a married man. Back off.

4) Last Christmas – Wham!: 80’s synth doesn’t belong anywhere near Christmas. Or anywhere else, really.

3) Same Auld Lang Syne – Dan Fogelberg: You kids with your rock and roll and your…Dan Fogelberg music.

2) Christmas Shoes – Alabama: I’m trying to celebrate the birth of Jesus, not weep openly while listening to what sounds like a goatee sing its heart out.

1) Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano: Repetitive, annoying, and just catchy enough to keep you from noticing before it’s too late, Feliz Navidad is the undisputed worst Christmas song of all time.  You don’t like it, but you won’t turn it off right away, and if you give it even a few seconds, it’ll lodge itself in your brain until removed by only the sweet relief of either a lobotomy, or death.



Honorable Mention – Any Version of Auld Lang Syne

10) The First Noel – Josh Groban and Faith Hill: You can make fun of Josh Groban if you’d like, and you may think that your mom and her sisters are the only people who listen to him, but if you don’t respect his Christmas album, you’re wrong.  You’re just flat out wrong.  The man sings the hell out of this song, and if you’re not moved when he and Faith Hill go up high together at the end, with the full choir behind them, I’m sorry, but you don’t understand music.


9) Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee: It’s classic, it’s fun, it’s generally the first thing you hear on the local radio station that switches over to holiday music on October 12th. Also, it’s really, really good.


8) Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Jackson 5: Thriller was great, but if you remember Michael Jackson only for that album, or for only his work as ‘The King of Pop’, or for the sideshow he became, you make the grave mistake of forgetting how good he was with the Jackson 5.  This tune is a power house, and absolutely belongs on any top 10 list.


7) Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon: Simple yet powerful, as good as its message is important.


6) Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen: Yes, I’m putting the same song on this list twice – and spoiler alert, it’s not the only time I’ll do that.  You can never go wrong with straight up rock and roll, and as long as we’re not talking about Dancing In The Dark, you can’t go wrong with The Boss, either.


5) All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey: It’s not the GOAT, but I can’t argue with you if you want to tell me it is. A little pop, a little Motown, a little Christmas, a whole hell of a lot of Mariah doing the Aguilera before Aguilera did the Aguilera – or what some of us call ‘The Whitney Houston’. A truly flawless song.


4) The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole: The Christmas season may start when you hear Rockin’, but it doesn’t feel like the Christmas season until you hear Nat King Cole croon about chestnuts.  There’s a reason it’s survived 70 years; it is the quintessential Christmas tune.


3) O Holy Night – Celine Dion: You think Mariah Carey sings the hell out of All I Want?  Put on the last two minutes of this tune and see if any of the wine glasses in your house survive, and see if you survive, too, because if your heart isn’t racing while she hammers out those final few high notes, you may be a dead person.


2) O Holy Night – Whiffenpoofs: In case I haven’t laid it on thick enough, let me say it plain english: I’m a snob. You may not have heard this version, but – and I don’t want to lead us too far into the weeds here – trust me when I say, it is a triumph of classical arrangement and performance.  This version of the Christmas classic is brilliant in every facet.  Press play, and count the goosebumps.


1) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – James Taylor: Everyone with a record deal has covered this song (Seriously, everyone. Search for Ruben Studdard’s version, you’ll find it.), but none have done it as well as James Taylor. A fire; a Christmas tree properly wrapped with twinkling lights and a bright, shining star; this song; and a drink as smooth as James Taylor’s voice.  That’s how you celebrate Christmas.


That’s it.  That’s the list.


Author: Joseph White

Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at