• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

A Not So Silent Night: A Definitive Ranking of the Songs on Your Christmas Playlist

ByMolly Turley

Dec 17, 2022
iPod with list of christmas songs to play

It certainly is the most wonderful time of the year – we’re reaching the end of the semester, the Edinburgh Christmas Markets are fully in swing, and Christmas music has started to make its way back onto the radios. But with so many songs about the festive season, which ones make the nice list? In an attempt to celebrate the upcoming holidays (and mainly to hide away from finishing my essays), I’ve ranked what I believe to be the best and the worst Christmas songs of all time:

Christmas Crackers

  1. ‘Last Christmas’, Wham!

There could be no other option for the top spot other than the sultry yet sombre tones of Wham!. It might be the romantic English Literature student in me, but there’s something so achingly beautiful about putting your feelings on the line and entrusting yourself to someone completely, only for it to end in disaster. Coupled with a visually beautiful music video where you get to stare into the eyes of a forlorn George Michael, ‘Last Christmas’ secures its position as my No.

2. ‘Step into Christmas’, Elton John

I love a good Christmas song that you can dance to, and Elton John’s classic is perhaps the best one. Made even more legendary by the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special (my sister still quotes the “are you asking me to step in?” line by an otherwise unfunny James Corden), ‘Step into Christmas’ remains a seasonal bop for the ages.

3. ‘Christmas Wrapping’, The Waitresses

A criminally underrated pick, this festive rap hits all the right notes. Driven by pounding drums and that famous refrain on the sax and trumpets, Patty Donahue’s build up to finally enjoying the season will have you singing ‘Merry Christmas’ on repeat.

4. ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’, Mariah Carey

My toxic trait is thinking that I could absolutely body this at karaoke. It might be a Christmas crime to put Mariah Carey at only No. 4, but ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ still remains one of the greatest songs of the season, and is a guilty pleasure listen for me all year-round. 

5. ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’, Michael Bublé

You know it’s Christmas when Michael Bublé has finally been defrosted and allowed back onto the radio for the first time of the year. With so many of his Christmas songs to choose from, this specific cover takes my heart, with Bublé’s belting wrapping you up in the thrill of the approaching holidays.

6. ‘Sparkle & Shine’ , Nativity

From perhaps one of the most iconic movie moments of all time (I said what I said), ‘Sparkle & Shine’ is one of those feel-good tunes that you can’t help smiling to. Kids never normally sound this good, but it’s so satisfying that I almost want to don a star costume and join in myself.

Honourable Mentions

  • ‘Underneath the Tree’, Kelly Clarkson
  • ‘The Christmas Waltz’, Laufey
  • ‘Happy New Year’, ABBA
  • ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, Chris Rea
  • ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, Slade (yelling Noddy Holder’s “It’s Christmas” is now family tradition)

Frosty Flops

  1. ‘Wonderful Christmastime’, Paul McCartney

This song is almost as if Paul McCartney got to the studio, wrote down two lines, and went “yep, that’ll do it”. When going up against the heavyweights like Wham! and Michael Bublé, this song’s lack of anything fails to deliver. 

2. ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’, John Lennon and Yoko Ono

There’s something unnerving about singing the lyrics “War is over” repeatedly when, in reality, many people still suffer daily. For a man that made peace activism his whole thing, it’s a move that seems very ignorant and even exploitative.

3. ‘Santa Baby’, Kylie Minogue

Kylie’s almost pornographic take on an already dodgy song is sounding all kinds of awful. My therapy bill is going up and up as I listen to 3 minutes of breathy moaning. Again, maybe don’t sexualise Santa?

4. ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, Dean Martin

Well we’re not making Santa sexy anymore, but a song perpetuating rape culture certainly isn’t any better. I’m sure you’ve already read millions of articles about how wrong this song is, but I’m still in shock over the romanticism of forcing a woman to stay with you (especially with the line “Say, what’s in this drink?” – run away from Dean Martin at all costs, ladies).

5. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, Band Aid

I think it’s always amazing when celebrities get together and do something for a good cause, but Band Aid did this so wrong. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ reeks of a white saviour complex, depicting the whole of Africa as this place of darkness, disease, and desolation. Of course they know it’s Christmas, they don’t need a bunch of privileged A-listers bragging to them about how great our lives are because we’re not them. Plus, the A Level Geographer in me screams every time I hear the lyrics “there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas” (ever heard of Mount Kilimanjaro?).

Photo Credit: “Christmas Music” by Chiot’s Run is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.