Today is Christmas! During “the most wonderful time of the year," having the right music is essential. And, nothing can get us in a jolly mood and lift our spirits quite like some good holiday-themed music. Every year we queue up our favorite Christmas songs and commence to enjoying ourselves with our family and friends.
To help get those good vibes flowing, we've rounded up a soulful list of some of our favorite holiday songs.
Donny Hathaway,”This Christmas”
“A lot of Black people would say, ‘Christmas doesn’t start until we play ‘This Christmas,’ ” said Nadine McKinno, who co-wrote the song with Donny Hathaway. Since its initial release in 1970, the tune has become a modern Christmas standard. Hathaway’s gospel-influenced vocal performance and dexterous work on the keys makes this one of our fave Christmas classics.
Mariah Carey, “All I Want Christmas Is You”
With this jam, superstar vocalist Mariah Carey wins the holiday season. Released from her first-holiday album, Merry Christmas in 1994 and written and produced by Carey, and Walter Afanasieff, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was an instant classic garnering critical acclaim. The song gained immediate inclusion as a standard in the American Christmas songbook. In 2019, it topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, 25 years after its original release, thereby breaking several records.
The Temptations,“Silent Night”
As soon as Dennis Edwards says, “In my mind,” you are invited into a gospel experience. The Temptations’ version of “Silent Night” is considered the best rendition of the classic Christmas hymn. From the solo performances, harmonies, and adlibs, The Temptations' version stands head and shoulders above the rest
The Jackson 5, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
The Jackson 5 had several classic Christmas songs to their credit; however, none quite captures the youthful zeal and untenable excitement that children have during the holidays such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” While many others have done well with the tune, the searing soulful vocals of a young Michael Jackson, along with background vocals from his brothers make their version quite exceptional.
Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight, “Let It Snow”
When R&B legend Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight collaborated for a Christmas track, the result was a masterpiece. Written by McKnight and Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, “Let It Snow” peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.
Jackson 5, “Give Love On Christmas Day”
“Give Love On Christmas Day” is an essential Motown classic, from The Corporations, a group consisting of Berry Gordy, Fonce Mizell, Freddie Perren, and Deke Richards, Originally sung by The Jackson 5 on their Christmas album in 1970, the song had been covered by the masters such as the Temptations as well as New Edition, Coko, and Johnny Gill.
Run-DMC, “Christmas In Hollis”
Hip-Hop’s first superstar group, RUN-DMC, delivered an all-time favorite with “Christmas In Hollis.” Released in November of 1987 and sampling Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa,” the track details the trio’s run-in with Santa, soul food Christmas traditions, and everything else that goes down around the holidays in Hollis, Queens.
The Temptations,“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
“Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" was a folksy song until The Temptations got a hold of it and took it to church. Led by the soaring falsetto of Eddie Kendricks, the legendary group turned the classic kiddie Christmas ditty into a funkified Christmas jam.
The Emotions, “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas”
Not everyone during the holidays is spending time with that special someone. For that contingent, the dynamic Emotions asked, “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?” Released in 1973, the Emotions impeccable harmonies and earnest pleas on “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas” makes it the ultimate Christmas heartbreak song.
Kurtis Blow, ”Christmas Rappin”
Leave it up to hip hop's first superstars Kurtis Blow to drop the genre's first Christmas jam. Released in 1979, the holiday rap explores X-mas in the hood.
Stevie Wonder, “What Christmas Means To Me”
The Drifters, “White Christmas”
Back in 1954, The Drifters released their doo-wop rendition of the Christmas standard, originally made popular by Bing Crosby. With their signature harmonies, The Drifters turned the track into a mid-tempo soul classic.