Top 25 Christmas Holiday Songs

What are the top 25 Christmas holiday songs in the past 5 years?  ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers has put together a list based upon radio airplay.

Some quick facts:

  • Oldest songs: “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Winter Wonderland” (both 1934)
  • Newest song:  “Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)” (1984)

  • Most recorded holiday song: “White Christmas” with over 500 versions in dozens of languages
  • Songs introduced in film and television:

    “White Christmas” in Holiday Inn (1942)

    “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

    “Silver Bells” in The Lemon Drop Kid (1950)

    “A Holly Jolly Christmas” in TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1962)

  • Writer with most top holiday songs: Johnny Marks with 3 - “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas"

  • “Sleigh Ride” is the only holiday song written originally as an instrumental for a symphony orchestra. The Boston Pops Orchestra gave the first performance in a concert conducted by Arthur Fiedler at Symphony Hall in Boston, May 4, 1948.  The Boston Pops Orchestra recorded it in June of 1949. Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1949.

You can vote for your favorite Christmas songs among 24 favorites.

Here’s the ASCAP list.  We’ve added a classic soul or R&B artist who has recorded the song (if applicable).

At the end of the list, you’ll find a link revealing the artists who get credit for having the most popular versions (based on radio airplay).

1. “Winter Wonderland”
Written by: Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
Aretha Franklin

2. “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Written by: Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
Nat “King” Cole

3. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Written by: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
Dionne Warwick with Gladys Knight

4. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
Written by: Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
Jackson 5

5. “White Christmas”
Written by: Irving Berlin
Otis Redding

6. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
Written by: Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

7. “Jingle Bell Rock”
Written by: Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

8. “Sleigh Ride”
Written by: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
The Ronettes (most popular artist)

9. “Little Drummer Boy”
Written by: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
Stevie Wonder

10. “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”
Written by: Johnny Marks
Ray Charles

11. “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”
Written by: Edward Pola, George Wyle
Performed by: Andy Williams (most popular artist)

12. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
Written by: Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
Al Green

13. “Silver Bells”
Written by: Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
Lou Rawls

14. “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Brenda Lee (most popular artist)

15. “Feliz Navidad”
Written by: José Feliciano
José Feliciano (most popular artist)

16. “Frosty The Snowman”
Written by: Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins
The Ronettes (most popular artist)

17. “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
Written by: Johnny Marks
Burl Ives (most popular artist)

18. “Blue Christmas”
Written by: Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
Elvis Presley (most popular artist)

19. “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”
Written by: Meredith Willson
Johnny Mathis (most popular artist)

20. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
Written by: Tommie Connor (PRS)
En Vogue

21. “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)”
Written by: Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman

22. “(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays”
Written by: Bob Allen, Al Stillman
Perry Como (most popular artist)

23. “Carol Of The Bells”
Written by: Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich
Yolanda Adams

24. “Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)”
Written by: Midge Ure (PRS), Bob Geldof (PRS)
Band Aid (most popular artist)

25. “Wonderful Christmastime”
Written by: Paul McCartney (PRS)
Paul McCartney (most popular artist)

All of the most popular artists singing these songs are noted in the ASCAP Top 25 holiday songs on their web site (along with their methodology for compiling the list).

Check out our review of the Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, and the Powerhouse Radio Christmas holiday playlist.

Let’s wrap things up with 10 Legendary Classic Soul Christmas favorites:

  1. “The Christmas Song” Nat “King” Cole
  2. “Every Year, Every Christmas” Luther Vandross
  3. “Silent Night” Temptations
  4. “This Christmas” Donny Hathaway
  5. “Someday At Christmas” Stevie Wonder
  6. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” Jackson 5
  7. “White Christmas” Drifters
  8. “Happy Holidays To You” Whispers
  9. “Christmas In Hollis” Run DMC
  10. “Christmas Rappin’” Kurtis Blow

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Posted by King on 11/14 at 01:02 AM
  1. I really like Harry Conick Jr.  He came out with a Christmas cd a couple of years.  He has some new twists on old songs as well as new songs like his title track “When My Heart Finds Christmas.” It’s great! You should check it out!

    Posted by Harry Conick Fan  on  12/08  at  03:40 AM
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