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Holiday Songs for Your Festive Playlist

Holiday Songs for Your Festive Playlist

Get moving and grooving with this holiday playlist

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The holidays are all about spending time with those you love most and reflecting on the good times. Delicious food, nostalgic films and popular songs that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside are just the cherry on top. 

When you want to get in the holiday spirit, these holiday tunes will do the trick. From classic songs by Nat King Cole to modern remakes by Michael Bublé, here are some of the top songs for your holiday playlist.

‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ Frank Sinatra

‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ Frank Sinatra

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Frank Sinatra’s sultry voice sets the tone when the weather is cold, holiday lights are twinkling and hot chocolate is heating on the stove. No holiday playlist is complete without his rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Songwriter Hugh Martin wrote the tune for the 1944 movie "Meet Me in St. Louis," but the original lyrics — "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last/Next year we may all be living in the past" — were changed after actress Judy Garland asked for more upbeat lines.

‘The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You),’ Nat King Cole

‘The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You),’ Nat King Cole

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Nat King Cole's smooth and soulful voice will fill you with holiday nostalgia. The jazz pianist and vocalist croons out sweet lyrics on "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)" and pauses briefly for one of the most soothing piano breaks in a Christmas song. This song is perfect when you're hanging lights, opening gifts, cooking your favorite comfort meal or doing anything holiday-related.

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ Gene Autry

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ Gene Autry

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When it comes to Christmas legends, there's Santa, then there's Rudolph. The iconic reindeer is a holiday star thanks to his bright, red nose guiding Santa's sleigh on a foggy Christmas Eve. Plenty of artists have sung about Rudolph's journey, but Gene Autry's performance ranks highest, according to Billboard's top 100 holiday songs.

‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ Bobby Helms

‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ Bobby Helms

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Musician Bobby Helms was a country singer, but he's most known for his 1957 song "Jingle Bell Rock." "Jingle Bell Rock" graced airwaves two days before Christmas. More than 60 years later, the upbeat tune is still a holiday classic. Popular films, from "A Christmas Story" to "Mean Girls," have featured the jingle.

‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,’ Brenda Lee

‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,’ Brenda Lee

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Brenda Lee is a country and pop singing legend, but you'll probably best recognize her voice belting out the lyrics on her 1958 song "Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree." Lee joined the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, and in the 1960s, she earned 46 Hot 100 singles — more than any recording artist other than the Beatles, Ray Charles and Elvis. "Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree" is almost as legendary as Lee herself — it broke a streaming record for a holiday song in 2009 after peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

‘This Christmas,’ Donny Hathaway

‘This Christmas,’ Donny Hathaway

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Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" is a melodic, R&B break from the usual orchestrated sound of holiday music. One of the best parts of the upbeat tune is when the song starts to fade, only to come back more intense than before with Hathaway singing his heart out. Hathaway's musical career ended in 1979 when he died at the age of 33, but his rendition of "This Christmas" is a holiday staple when the season rolls around.

‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,’ ‘N Sync

‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,’ ‘N Sync

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During the pop boy band phase of the late '90s and early 2000s, ‘N Sync released Billboard chart-topping songs like "It's Gonna Be Me" and "Bye Bye Bye," but they also released a 1998 holiday album, "Home for Christmas." The album spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it peaked on the charts at No. 7. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" is the epitome of pop sugar — there is harmonizing, falsettos, the chorus is super catchy and there's even a clap-along at the end.

‘Last Christmas,’ Wham!

‘Last Christmas,’ WHAM!

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Wham!'s 1986 hit “Last Christmas” proves that '80s synth and holiday music is the duo you probably didn’t know you needed. Singer George Michael whisper-sings a song about lost love and a feeling of redemption after deciding to "save his heart for someone special." It's not your typical holiday song, but it's a Christmas-must.

‘Wonderful Christmastime,’ Paul McCartney

‘Wonderful Christmastime,’ Paul McCartney

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Paul McCartney needs no introduction. The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee has released chart-topping hits both as the co-frontman of the Beatles and as a solo artist. His 1979 song 'Wonderful Christmastime" is a simple tune but is an earworm thanks to the chorus, synth and constant jingling bells.

‘Happy Xmas (War is Over),’ John Lennon

‘Happy Xmas (War is Over),’ John Lennon

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No one can follow up Paul McCartney except his former bandmate John Lennon. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is an uplifting, hopeful tune thanks to Lennon's vocals paired with the youthful sound of The Harlem Community Choir. According to Lennon, the message behind "Happy Xmas" — which he wrote with partner Yoko Ono — is that all men are just as responsible for the end of wars as "the man who pushes the button."

‘Little Saint Nick,’ the Beach Boys

‘Little Saint Nick,’ the Beach Boys

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The Beach Boys epitomize upbeat, tambourine-playing songs that make you feel like you're lounging on a beach in California. Although 1964's "Little Saint Nick" is a Christmas song, it still holds true to that famous Beach Boys sound.

‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,’ Bruce Springsteen

‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,’ Bruce Springsteen

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Plenty of talented stars have performed "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (including The Jackson 5), but you can’t fully appreciate the song until you've heard The Boss scream the lyrics in a rock ‘n’ roll fashion. Bruce Springsteen's 1975 live cover of the song starts slow, but the tempo quickly picks up with the help of The E Street Band. Your foot might start tapping along to the beat, or you might bust out a dance move. Either way, this holiday song inspires you to get up and get moving.

‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,’ The Jackson 5

‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,’ The Jackson Five

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Speaking of The Jackson 5, their 1970 Christmas album has every holiday jingle from "Frosty the Snowman" to "Little Drummer Boy," but "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is a cute song that acknowledges the magic of Christmas from the perspective of a child.

‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),’ Darlene Love

‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),’ Darlene Love

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Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love is considered one of the 100 greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine for a reason. Her voice is full of soul and her 1963 song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is proof. The song has a message many people can relate to: The holidays aren't the same if you can't spend it with the ones you love.

‘Silent Night,’ The Temptations

‘Silent Night,’ The Temptations

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The Temptations were part of the Motown magic that defined the 1960s. Their cover of "Silent Night" pulls on the popular sound of quartet and quintet groups from the past. Each singer, including bass singer Melvin Franklin, has a solo in the song, but the harmonic sound of the group pieces the tune together. If you're looking for the perfect sing-along song, you've found it.

‘Sleigh Ride,’ The Ronettes

‘Sleigh Ride,’ The Ronettes

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"Sleigh Ride" by 1960 girl group the Ronettes still occupies a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts to this day. The song is a lively, fast-paced tune about playing in the snow and going for a sleigh ride. It's repetitive, sure, but it's fun to listen to during the holidays.

‘A Holly Jolly Christmas,’ Burl Ives

‘A Holly Jolly Christmas,’ Burl Ives

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Burl Ives most notably narrated the popular 1964 animated film "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." "A Holly Jolly Christmas" is indeed holly and jolly, and it encourages you — snow or not — to enjoy Christmas to the fullest. Try not singing along to this song.

‘Mistletoe,’ Justin Bieber

‘Mistletoe,’ Justin Bieber

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Grammy-winner Justin Bieber releases a new, chart-topping pop song almost every year, but he's had only one top-10 Christmas song. "Mistletoe" might be one of Bieber's most memorable tunes. A series of finger snaps and jingling bells carry the beat, and although he uses the word "shawty," you'll still want to sing along.

‘Feliz Navidad,’ José Feliciano

‘Feliz Navidad,’ José Feliciano

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Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano has performed for nearly 60 years, but you most likely know him for his 1970 single "Feliz Navidad." "Feliz Navidad" incorporates all the best things about holiday music: it's festive, it's easy to learn and it makes you want to dance.

‘I Have A Little Dreidel,’ Barenaked Ladies

‘I Have A Little Dreidel,’ Barenaked Ladies

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Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies has performed plenty of popular and Grammy-nominated songs, but the band’s cover of "I Have a Little Dreidel" is upbeat and fun to sing and clap along with. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Samuel E. Goldfarb and Samuel S. Grossman wrote "I Have a Little Dreidel" in New York in the early 20th century. While Goldfarb penned one Hanukkah favorite, his brother, Israel, composed another: "Shalom Aleichem."

‘Blue Christmas,’ Elvis Presley

‘Blue Christmas,’ Elvis Presley

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Christmas songs tend to be celebratory tunes with an occasional smooth track or two to balance the mood. But "Blue Christmas" by the legendary Elvis Presley checks only one of those boxes. Presley's standard, lip curling voice is just as buttery as usual, but the message is an ode to a lover who has happily moved on. "Blue Christmas" isn't the happiest of holiday songs, but it is a classic.

‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ Bing Crosby

‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ Bing Crosby

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"I'll Be Home for Christmas" is another melancholy Christmas song that incites nostalgia. Many artists, from Frank Sinatra to Michael Bublé, have covered this song, but nothing compares to Bing Crosby's original 1943 performance. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" touched the hearts of American World War II soldiers and those waiting for them to return home, and it became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows. When the Gemini 7 spacecraft sped back to earth in December 1965, astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell asked for "I'll Be Home for Christmas" to guide them home.

‘White Christmas,’ Bing Crosby

‘White Christmas,’ Bing Crosby

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Depending on where you live, you might not always have a white Christmas, but no matter where you are, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" will make you feel like you're living in a winter wonderland. "White Christmas" first appeared in the 1942 film "Holiday Inn," and it won best song at the 15th Academy Awards. Nearly 80 years later, "White Christmas" is still iconic. The Guinness Book of World Records dubbed the tune the best-selling single of all time with 5,000,000 units sold.

‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,’ Michael Bublé

‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,’ Michael Bublé

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Bing Crosby's performance of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" might be one of the best, but Michael Bublé's cover is just as magical. Bublé's performance is slower and jazzier, and his voice sounds like hot chocolate on a cold day.

‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,’ Dean Martin

‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,’ Dean Martin

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Dean Martin has been dubbed "the coolest man who ever lived," and his swagger is apparent in his rendition of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow." The message of the song is simplistic and fun in only the way holiday songs can be. Even if it’s cold and snowing outside, as long as you're spending time with someone you love, it'll always feel warm.

‘(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays,’ Perry Como

‘(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays,’ Perry Como

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When staying indoors is all anyone has done for the past nine months, listening to a song about the joys of spending time at home might sound too on the nose. But "(There’s No Place) Like Home For The Holidays” by Perry Como is a classic.

‘Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,’ Barenaked Ladies

‘Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,’ Barenaked Ladies

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“Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” — or, in Yiddish, "Chanukah, Oy Chanukah" — is a traditional song that celebrates the annual Festival of Lights. The Barenaked Ladies' cover of the song is an upbeat treat with a catchy guitar and tambourine combo.

‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,’ Andy Williams

‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,’ Andy Williams

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Andy Williams is best known as the host of the TV variety "Andy Williams Show." But a long list of Christmas albums also played a part in his fame, most notably the 1963 "Andy Williams Christmas Album." There's barely a holiday jingle Williams doesn't cover on this album, but "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is his most grand performance.

‘Santa Baby,’ Eartha Kitt

‘Santa Baby,’ Eartha Kitt

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"Santa Baby," delivered in two-time Grammy-nominated singer Eartha Kitt's sultry voice, is a smooth holiday song about all the extravagant gifts one woman wants under the tree. Skip a new pair of socks and a pajama set. Kitt asks for presents like a 1954 light blue convertible and jewelry from Tiffany’s.

‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ Mariah Carey

‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ Mariah Carey

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When the temperature begins to drop and the sun starts to set early, you know what season it is: "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey season. Originally released in 1994, the smash holiday song consistently makes the Billboard Hot 100 list 26 years after its initial release date. Over the first two days of November 2020, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" surged 160% in streams. Get in the holiday spirit by blasting Carey's celebratory tune and checking out the American towns with the best Christmas spirit.

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