Music has long been a staple feature of the holiday season. It’s almost impossible to imagine festive activities without the jingling of bells and the familiar sound of a series of timeless classic tracks.
But nowadays, these classics are everywhere, from department stores to office parties. The increasing popularity of music streaming services makes holiday songs available whenever and wherever people want them.
Holiday songs vary in genre, from pop tracks by the likes of Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande, Backstreet Boys and Celine Dion, to easy listening tunes from all the crooner greats. There are holiday rock hits from Coldplay and The Darkness and even hip-hop tracks like Run-DMC’s Christmas In Hollis.
We compiled a guide to the top ten holiday songs to stream to get the festivities started right now.
Your holiday song streaming guide
Andy Williams – It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
What is it?: This 1963 hit is the perfect way to get the holiday season started. Its lyrics describe all the festivities that take place at this time of year, from roasting marshmallows and singing Christmas carols, to children sledding in the snow.
Genre: Easy listening
Similar holiday songs: Bing Crosby – White Christmas, Perry Como – Winter Wonderland
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
What is it?: A charity song recorded by Bob Geldof’s ‘supergroup’ to raise money for the 1984 Ethiopian famine. The song features multiple pop and rock stars, including Bono, Phil Collins, Boy George, George Michael and Sting. It was the Christmas number one in 1984, has been re-recorded three times and is an unmistakable reminder of the importance of friends and family at this time of year.
Genre: Pop rock
Similar holiday songs: John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas
What is it?: A holiday song that was never intended to be a holiday song, at least according to English singer/songwriter Chris Rea. A snowy drive with his wife inspired the tune.
Genre: Soft rock
Similar holiday songs: Eagles – Please Come Home For Christmas
Dean Martin – Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
What is it?: A song that lyrically makes no mention of holidays but has become a festivity staple due to its wintery theme. First recorded way back in 1945 by Vaughn Monroe, it was re-recorded five years later. It’s probably best known for fellow crooner Dean Martin’s rendition.
Genre: Easy listening
Similar holiday songs: Frank Sinatra – White Christmas, Johnny Cash – The Little Drummer Boy
Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
What is it?: It’s impossible to make it through the holiday season without hearing this 1994 Mariah Carey hit. The song celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and features soul, R&B and dance influences within an overtly pop sound.
Similar holiday songs: Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby, Britney Spears – My Only Wish (This Year)
Shakin Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone
What is it?: Not many songs can encapsulate the sound of the holiday season as perfectly as this Shakin Stevens classic hit. It features sleighbells, funky instrumentals and supremely catchy vocals. There’s even a saxophone solo to boot.
Similar holiday songs: Elton John – Step Into Christmas
Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
What is it?: The holiday season wrapped up in the art of music. If the multiple repeats of this ultimate holiday song’s shout-along chorus don’t quite succeed, then Noddy Holder’s excitable cry of “It’s Christmas” will have you instantly in the festive mood.
Genre: Pop rock
Similar holiday songs: Boney M – Mary’s Boy Child, Melissa Etheridge – Christmas In America
The Pogues (feat. Kirsty MacColl) – Fairytale of New York
What is it?: Probably the most downbeat, depressing holiday song in existence, which gradually builds in joy and vigor. Simply put, it’s a cult classic. Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl share the limelight in this Irish folk ballad that’s become the most-played holiday song in UK history.
Genre: Folk, Rock
Similar holiday songs: Elton John – Step Into Christmas, Graham Colten – Holiday Season
Wham! – Last Christmas
What is it?: Another holiday-defining song played pretty much everywhere. British duo Wham!, led by George Michael, released the tune in 1984. Michael donated his royalties from the song to Ethiopian famine relief. Joyful upbeat instrumentals play behind undeniably sad lyrics in this song that epitomizes the festive season.
Similar holiday songs: Kelly Clarkson – Underneath The Tree
Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
What is it?: A song by British glam rock band Wizzard, which features lively instrumentals led by sleighbells, a catchy singalong refrain, a chorus of children and a saxophone solo. Despite its huge popularity as a holiday song, the track has never reached higher than number four on the UK Singles Chart.
Genre: Glam rock, Pop
Similar holiday songs: Queen – Thank God It’s Christmas
Get the festivities started with holiday song playlists
The similarity in content libraries across all the major music streaming providers means that every holiday song is almost certainly available on your service of choice. Where they differ, is in the holiday playlists they provide.
50 Great Holiday Songs: Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers have a wealth of options, but this playlist is sure to get the holiday season started in the right way. Katy Perry and Michael Bublé sit alongside Perry Como and Nat King Cole.
Holiday Pop Hits: This one features all the best pop hits that the holiday season has to offer. The playlist includes Britney Spears, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Justin Bieber, Hanson and more.
Christmas: This is the most popular Pandora holiday station, with 57 million subscribers. Pandora offers several holiday-themed stations.
The Ultimate Holiday Playlist: This playlist features all the usual classics with a few left-field inclusions such as Tegan and Sara’s The Chipmunk Song. For something more alternative, check out Spotify’s Rock Christmas playlist.
The Complete Christmas Playlist: As the title suggests, this is a classic compendium of holiday hits, featuring a mix of timeless crooner tracks, pop hits and alternative tunes.
The Ultimate Holiday Playlist: YouTube Music has a fun collection of the 36 finest holiday music videos. The list includes videos from The Pogues, Wizzard and Ramones, Faith Hill, Michael Bublé and more.
Songs help make the holiday season a special time of the year. All the major music streaming services have solid collections of classic holiday songs. They also all feature multiple playlists to fill your office party or family gathering with festive joy.