Top 10 Rock and Pop Christmas Songs

This is by no means a definitive list of the greatest Christmas songs, but here are some songs that I never get sick of listening to whether it is Christmas time or not. And for those who go through this list and think “well that’s all well and good, but there are no religious songs” that’s correct. This here is a list of songs, the rock and pop variety, not carols, and for some reason those tend to be about the true meaning of Christmas; you know, being together with loved ones, or just the one that you love.Top 10 Rock and Pop Christmas Songs

Oh and Santa. Santa Claus IS the reason for the season…

I am going to list them in reverse order from position ten down to one so that you have to wait until you get to the bottom of the page to find out which one I think it number one. I have also embedded each of them finding the best versions that I could on YouTube. I apologise in advance if any of them start with advertising in your region, but I guess it is only fair that free access website like YouTube make some money from advertising to keep the service free. Besides, YouTube has to pay the copyright owners royalties as I discussed in this article.

10. All I Want For Christmas – Mariah Carey

In 1990 Mariah Carey released her debut single Vision of Love. Although that song came smack bang in the middle of my “I’ll only listen to hard rock or metal” stance in my life, I really liked this song and thought she was a great talent with those vocal acrobatics that she showed. And even though she has gone on to have bigger hits, that’s pretty much where my “love” of Mariah ended. But I really like this song and it doesn’t annoy me even though it IS Mariah Carey.

9. Please Come Home For Christmas – Jon Bon Jovi

Even though grunge had hit the year before and I was moving away from the New York/Los Angeles hair bands and getting into the alternative rock and metal scene a bit more, I still had a soft spot for the band that made me want to pick up a guitar and join a band myself. This was released in 1992 and that Christmas was the first one that I was in a serious relationship so I have to admit the “corniness” of this Christmas love ballad was lost on me, and some weird sentimental connection had been made.

8. White Christmas – Billy Idol

I am going to admit up front that this version might not be my favourite version, but there are so many versions to choose from it’s not funny (seriously, I ain’t laughing). But when I saw that he of “White Wedding” fame is now he of “White Christmas” infamy, I just had to pick this one.

So as I sit here on a day where the mercury reached 28.8°C (83.84°F) following a day that reached 40.2°C (104.36°F) I know that once again we won’t be having a white Christmas here in Sydney. But it is on my bucket list. One day I would love to wake up on Christmas morn, have the kids run downstairs and open our presents in front of a roaring fireplace (wondering how on earth Santa got down there without getting burnt). Until then…

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like those ones I’ve never known…”

7. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys

I grew up a fan of two things; Christmas and The Beach Boys. For me, summer meant listening to the Beach Boys and seeing that Christmas is in summer in Australia, the two things sort of go hand-in-hand. But, it wasn’t until I was 17 and I had my first real job fresh out of school that I heard this song being played over the company’s in store radio. How could I have spent my whole childhood not knowing about this song?

6. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – John (Lennon) & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band

And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? It’s a classic because, well, John Lennon. I find myself singing this throughout the year. There’s something in the structure of this song that resonates with me. And even though war is far from over, it’s a nice thought.

5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen

The version that I have posted here is from 1978, recorded in September, well before Christmas. I was looking for a video for that famous version that he released in 1985. I believe it was recorded at a concert long before that (he started playing it live in 1975) and I think that he owns this song now. Not the rights (the publishing copyright) but he owns it as no one does it better than The Boss.

There’s a HD version from a few years back recorded in 2007 but finding this 1978 version was a lot of fun. And for all that controversy that’s been floating around the Internet the past week with Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s comment, “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” whilst she was part of a panel having a discussion about a blog that children of other races could feel alienated by constantly seeing Santa as white, the late Clarence Clemons owned the role of Santa Claus whenever Springsteen and The E Street Band performed this song.

4. Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley

The version that I have posted here is from the 68′ Comeback Special with Martina McBride digitally inserted in both the music and the video. I know Elvis was married to Priscilla the year before that, but I can see a special glint in his eye when I am sure that he’s catching a future glimpse of Miss McBride. As the King of Kings, Elvis would have been able to foresee the future, right?

I fell in love with this song when it was rerecorded for the Rankin Bass stop-motion television special A Year Without Santa Claus (am I the only person in the world that remember those Rankin Bass Christmas shows???)

For what it’s worth, this song is not only a favourite Christmas song, but also one of my favourite Elvis songs so it makes many lists for me.

3. Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

For all the inaccuracies (the fact that Africa is a large continent where it does actually snow and probably did in 1984, just not in Ethiopia), and that just over a third of the population are Muslims or non-Christian so Do They Care It’s Christmas might have been a more suitable title, this reminds me of my childhood and when Christmas was “the big thing” to me. And there are so many of my pre-“I only listen to rock music now” pop stars, so what’s not to like about that?

2. How to Make Gravy – Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is one of Australia’s best story tellers with his music. His song To Her Door was the second song I learned to play on guitar. I can remember one hot and sticky night in Sydney in January 1988 when the hot day brought on a stormy night and I sat in our music room playing along to that song. While the chords were easy for someone who had been playing the guitar for about three weeks (I got my first real six string for Christmas in 1987), the song itself is what captured me. And that’s what I love about Paul Kelly’s music. It is far from the progressive rock or art metal that I love now, the music is simple but the stories are so complex that they play out like a novel in less than five minutes.

1. White Wine in the Sun – Tim Minchin

I love this song. I can listen to it whether it is Christmas or not. And it sums up my feeling of Christmas to a T. And Tim Minchin, to me he is a false idol I would worship any day.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

6 thoughts on “Top 10 Rock and Pop Christmas Songs

  1. I really enjoyed reading this and hadn’t heard of the Paul Kelly song before. Well done for not including ‘Fairytale of New York’. I can’t understand why so many people see such a whiny and miserable song as one of the best Christmas songs ever.

    A Christmas song that I do like, despite it being a bit dated and cheesy, is Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’.

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