The holidays conjure up images of Christmas trees, spending time with your friends and family, eating plenty of food and opening up gifts. The holidays also remind people of the classic songs that accompany these traditions and thus comprise the essential ingredient for a fun holiday experience. With only a couple more weeks left before Christmas and ensuing holiday activities, here is a playlist of the essential holiday tracks to play this year.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
An obvious choice, but one of the best. Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas track boasts an insanely catchy melody sung by Carey’s beautiful voice. The transition from the opening section with the hints of bells and epic strings to the fast-paced piano blasting in will always be satisfying. This song has developed a legendary status to the point that people will play and sing along to it during other parts of the year as well. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not just an essential Christmas track, but an essential song to sing along with.
“Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC
The hip-hop group Run-DMC is a classic trio from the 1980s that grew in popularity alongside the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and LL Cool J. “Christmas in Hollis” is about Hollis, Queens, the New York City neighborhood that the Run-DMC members came from. The horn’s beat is one of the highlights here — an undeniable earworm. The lyrics illustrate Run-DMC’s Christmas experiences, including accidentally stealing Santa’s wallet and eating various foods. “Christmas in Hollis” is perfect because it has the Christmas cheer, but expressing it through Run-DMC’s iconic rapping style makes it all the better.
“Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande
The mix of the violins, cellos and Grande’s fabulous vocals already put this song at a high, but its lyrics are the reason it is a modern classic holiday song. Grande asks Santa if he really exists because she does not want to fall in love with someone again for it to not work out. The chanting, including the harmonies at the outro of the song while Grande belts out impressive high notes, shows what she does best. Additionally, the chorus is just fun with a cute message. What’s not to like?
“Little Drummer Boy” by Pentatonix
Written in 1941, the song “The Little Drummer Boy” was originally written by Katherine Kennicott Davis and has been covered countless times by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton and Stevie Wonder. The song follows the story of a poor boy who bears no gifts, so he plays on the drum instead. Pentatonix, the a cappella group, covers the song in winning fashion. The amazing vocal abilities of each member exemplify the awesome rhythms the song has. The group manages to embrace the solemn and powerful mood of the song just through their voices, which will always be impressive.
“The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler
The classic Chanukah song by comedian Adam Sandler is essential for showing off one of Sandler’s best comedic formats: music. Sonically, the song is just Sandler and his guitar. The main event, however, is the lyrics. Sandler lists famous celebrities of the time that are Jewish while the audience goes crazy, despite most celebrities mentioned being only part Jewish. The different words he used to rhyme with Chanukah are another highlight of the song. For example, he rhymes Chanukah with “Seattle Supersonicahs” and “smoke your marijuanicah.” Hearing the audience’s reaction to Sandler sets it apart from other holiday songs as well because most holiday tracks are just the recorded studio versions.
These are some of the essential holiday songs to play during your festivities this year. Check out more in the full playlist here!