Being grateful is nice and all, but I’m glad Thanksgiving is behind us. Now I’m free to listen to holiday music without pitchforks or aggressive memes. So, let’s get to it.
Without listening to every single holiday song ever made, I can’t with confidence say these 25 songs are my favorites. But, I like these a lot.
And, if you’re stuck in the rut of listening to only the songs played on your local holiday music radio station, then, please, help me help you.
Yes, I dig a classic. But, we’re only human. Variety sustains us.
Check out these 25 holiday songs I think are worth a listen ... or 10.
If you want to hear more of my Christmas favorites, follow my Spotify playlist "Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects."
1. "Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects" by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
"It’s a Holiday Soul Party" tops my list of Christmas albums, and this tops my list of songs. The clever song title is rooted in Sharon Jones’ childhood, when she questioned how Santa Claus delivered her Christmas presents sans chimney. The old-fashioned Motown sound is soulful and cute, but still a little anxious.
This is way more interesting than your average carol.
2. "All I Have Is Love" by Aloe Blacc
The enchanting rhythm hooked me into this song immediately. Then my feelings took over. The lyrics entail a father telling his child that he doesn’t have money for Christmas presents, and all he has is love. It immediately brought to mind all of my single-parent friends and my own childhood.
This is a passionate song with some underlying truths that run deep in anyone who’s ever faced financial adversity. Isn’t love what Christmas is all about?
3. "Talk About It" by Ne-Yo
I think my heart literally skipped a beat when I saw Ne-Yo released a 2019 Christmas album, "Another Kind of Christmas." Warning: It’s. So. Good.
"Talk About It" is a cool kickback to Ne-Yo’s upbringing. His vocals are as hyper-smooth as ever.
4. "December" by Ariana Grande
If you think "Santa Baby" needs an upgrade, this is it.
Ariana Grande’s sexy song "December" is a cool track from her 2015 EP "Christmas & Chill."
5. "I Won’t Be Home for Christmas" by Blink 182
For every last piece of joyful tinsel Christmas brings, there’s a little something that annoys me. I like this anti-Christmas song not only because it’s hilarious, but also because I have a soft spot for Blink 182. Ah, nostalgia. And what better time for that useless feeling than the holidays?
When you want to stick Christmas cheer where the sun don’t shine, this one is for you.
"It’s Christmas time again
It’s time to be nice to the people you can’t stand all year
I’m growing tired of all this Christmas cheer
You people scare me"
6. "Joy to the World" by Earth, Wind & Fire
This Christmas, reset your heart to this beat. This song defines joy.
If you’re not on your feet clapping and swaying back and forth to this song, are you even Christmas-ing?
This song is part gospel choir, part 1980s funk, and it’s so freaking fun to listen to. Plus, it’s not so packed full of Christmas gimmicks that you can’t stand hearing it on repeat, unlike some others that make me want to drive into oncoming traffic.
That falsetto around the three-minute mark is seriously insane.
7. "Santa Stole My Lady" by Fitz and The Tantrums
The first time I heard this was at the end of a holiday episode of the TV show "New Girl," featuring Zooey Deschanel. Cute show, cute episode and cute song.
I interpret it as a vintage, yet modern take of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," except Santa was kissing this guy’s girl. Like many others on this list, this has a Motown vibe - and, man, is December a better month for it.
8. "This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway
I couldn’t leave off a classic like Donny Hathaway’s silky original song "This Christmas." His vocals are smooth and wholesome, and the tone is impeccable. Tone is everything when it comes to this quintessential holiday song, and I’m heavily partial to the original 1970 singer on this one.
9. "Christmas in Harlem" by Kanye West featuring Cyhi The Prynce and Teyana Taylor
This 2010 track is such a quality hip-hop holiday song. It’s by far my favorite Christmas rap, even though it’s technically inspired by Run DMC’s "Christmas in Hollis." While the rapping itself isn’t overwhelmingly deep, the sweetness is in its simplicity. Taylor’s vocals will win you over.
10. "This Time of Year" by Rhys Lewis
This is the indie Christmas song I’ve waited for. English singer-songwriter Rhys Lewis’ angel-soft voice made for an epic sentimental 2019 holiday ballad.
11. "She’s All I Want For Christmas" by Lloyd
Major Michael Jackson vibes coming from this 2011 single by Lloyd. Now this is a Christmas dance song.
12. "One Little Christmas Tree" by Stevie Wonder
"One Little Christmas Tree" is exactly the kind of hope-filled holiday track I crave from Stevie Wonder. This 1967 song is packed with the same type of adorable as a children’s novel.
13. "8 Days of Christmas" by Destiny’s Child
Destiny’s Child could do no wrong in my eyes. The title track of their 2001 holiday album is catchy, sultry and so different from any other song on this list.
14. "When Christmas Comes" by Mariah Carey
I really felt compelled to give Mariah Carey a second chance. People hate so hard on "All I Want for Christmas is You," but this song is far richer and much less over the top. Compromise, anyone?
15."Everyday is Christmas" by Earth, Wind & Fire
What a slinky, sexy Christmas love song!
16."Christmas Is All Around" by BAILEN
Indie is a noun and an adjective with this one. The song is stupid cool. Sigh.
17. "December" by Earth, Wind & Fire
This feels a bit like a copout, because "December" is essentially identical to Earth, Wind & Fire’s "September." The music is the exact same, but the song has a few lyric changes – namely switching the month name, of course. But that should tell you how much I dig this iconic uplifting song. I recently attended a wedding, and my date and I discussed how "September" is the perfect joyful wedding reception song. Is this not the perfect alternative for winter weddings?
Now December found the love that we shared in September
18."Christmas With You" by Ceraadi
Female rappers are having a moment, so I think this song should, too.
19. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Luther Vandross
The heavenly vocals of Luther Vandross give this song its magic. This song has always been one of my Christmas favorites, because of its calming, yet uplifting effect. Sam Smith’s higher-pitched rendition is gorgeous, too. This is a good one for the vocal showboats, and I mean that in the best way.
20. "I Got Your Christmas Right Here" by Aloe Blacc
Aloe Blacc’s 2018 album "Christmas Funk" is funky perfection, so I had to include two songs from it. Sorry, not sorry. This one has a great rhythm.
21. "Eight Candles" by Yo La Tengo
Float through this dreamy modern Christmas aesthetic with indie rock band Yo La Tengo. Hanukkah has never sounded so chill.
22. "Sleigh" by Tess Clare
Up-and-coming pop musician Tess Clare really stole my attention with "Sleigh." This self-love, empowerment song makes me want to sleigh this holiday.
23. "Last Christmas" by Molly Burch, John Early and Kate Berlant
"It’s not easy having your heart broken on Christmas," says Molly during one of the phone call conversation segments inserted throughout the song. This doesn’t stray too far from other versions of the classic, but it’s soft and airy, and I like it.
24. "Make it Jingle" by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Freedia
Who doesn’t want a car for Christmas, right? I can’t help but smile at this goofy, old-school jingle. Plus, that horn section is lit.
25. "Litmas" by DRAM
If your Christmas wasn’t lit before, it is now. DRAM’s chill R&B jam "Litmas" makes me as happy as the lyrics sound.