The holiday season is coming, and so are all of the classic tunes that put us in the mood leading up to the actual holiday. Holiday music changes an entire environment, and so many of the best holiday songs hold a special place in our hearts. When we play them each year, we return to that magical place filled with love, family and joyous celebration.
All Christmas songs have that special something. So what then are some of the best, and what makes them so classic? Following is a step-by-step analysis of some all-time greats. Fire up the lights, and throw on your ugly sweater! Here comes Christmas!
1) "The Christmas Song," by Nat King Cole
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." This staple of the holiday season almost never became a reality when, in 1946, Capitol Records objected to the initial recording. Thankfully for the world, they loosened up and produced this epic track, which paints the intimate portrait of what it feels like to be around the holiday spirit. This is one of those songs you can almost smell.
2) "All I Want for Christmas," by Mariah Carey
Since the institution of the Nielsen SoundScan system in 1991, which accurately tracks music sales, "All I Want for Christmas" has sold more than 2.3 million copies, making it the bestselling Christmas track of the present era. It has become such a symbol of the holidays that you can accurately read a calendar based off of the frequency of its radio plays during the holiday season. Mariah's voice floats and soars as she delivers this standard of modern Christmas tunes into our homes and hearts every year.
3) Bing Crosby's version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"
Perhaps the most recognizable Christmas song of them all, "White Christmas" is acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the best-selling single of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide. When combined with other artists' versions, that number is closer to 100 million. The resonant tone of Crosby's voice lends itself to the track, adding a mystical edge to it and appealing to everyone who listens. When "White Christmas" comes on, it becomes just a bit colder, even if there isn't snow outside.
4) "The Chanukah Song," by Adam Sandler
Yes, No. 4 on this list goes to a non-Christmas Christmas song. Sandler wrote the song in 1994, originally for "Saturday Night Live," with "SNL" writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham. It was written for the Jewish boys and girls who were deprived of having their own holiday songs, and though it is written as a comedic piece, it was taken very seriously on the charts, selling close to 600,000 digital copies. Jews, Christians and people of all religions enjoy the lightness and humor of this catchy tune, and Sandler followed up with two sequels to this instant classic.
5) Franz Xaver Gruber's version of "Silent Night"
When it comes to longevity, few songs come close to "Silent Night." Originally composed in 1818 in Germany to Joseph Mohr's lyrics, the song has been covered in nearly every genre since. The carol has been translated into approximately 140 languages and is known around the world as a holiday favorite. When "Silent Night" plays, you are swept away to the calm and peace that occurs after the celebration of Christmas Eve. It captures perfectly the essence of the quiet house waiting for the morning sun and celebration to take place. Throw on "Silent Night," and you'll feel everything in your body relax. It's the perfect end-of-the-night song for family gatherings.
6) "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", by assorted artists
"Let It Snow" has been sung by some of the greatest singers of all time, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Conniff, Bing Crosby, Smokey Robinson, Aaron Neville, Kenny Rogers and, most recently, Michael Buble and Darius Rucker. It was first recorded in 1945 by Vaughn Monroe, and it hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts the following year. Because the song contains no references to Christmas, it is enjoyed across the board as a seasonal favorite. It frosts our minds and makes us want to bundle up tight during the chilly winter nights with all of our loved ones and friends. "Let It Snow" is the perfect mood setter for any holiday occasion.
Whatever songs you hold near and dear to your heart, get them ready for the upcoming holiday season. Some tracks are timeless, including many of the songs listed above. Enjoy your time with loved ones this season, and make sure to tune in to the Christmas spirit with these classic melodies.