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Music Review: Five Best Holiday Songs

Top Holiday Songs | Illustration by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian

The holiday season is often accompanied by the ever-present sounds of sleigh bells ringing, reindeer galloping through the snow and an abundance of carols ranging from upbeat to somber in tone. Some carols are deeply dramatic, while others may parody another popular song or style, and many people listen to these songs consistently between Dec. 1 and the end of the year. 

Below is my list of the five best holiday songs, ranked in no particular order. 

“Last Christmas” by Wham! 

George Michael and Andrew Ridgely, the duo behind Wham!, are often remembered for perennial hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper.”

However, this 1984 hit cemented their Christmas legacy after climbing to the number 11 spot on the Billboard charts and number two in the United Kingdom.

Though it has gained a reputation for being overplayed on the radio, the song has inspired a recent Christmas movie starring Emilia Clarke and the popular game Whamageddon. 

From the first seconds of  “Last Christmas,” it is instantly likable, pairing a bouncy bassline with holiday synthesizers and the crooning voices of Ridgeley and Michael. Though many artists including Taylor Swift, Leslie Odom Jr. and the ‘Glee’ cast have covered the track, the original Wham! version remains supreme. 

“Christmas/Sarajevo” by Transsiberian Orchestra 

What would a list of great holiday songs be without the inclusion of the Transsiberian Orchestra? The band constantly tours around with their rock-inspired take on holiday music while utilizing a full orchestra to great effect. Even without knowing the name “Christmas/Sarajevo,” the tune is instantly recognizable and builds to a beautiful climax. 

“12 Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser 

The acapella group Straight No Chaser is known for their vocal-only renditions of popular songs, and a few holiday tunes. One of those is “Text Me Merry Christmas” featuring the actress Kristin Bell, while another, the group’s comedic take on “The 12 Days of Christmas,” is my personal favorite of their tracks.

The members of Straight No Chaser expertly blend multiple holiday songs (one of them even adds “I Have a Little Dreidel” to the mix) before launching into a Christmas-themed cover of Toto’s classic song “Africa.” It is a joy to experience. 

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms 

Here is another iconic holiday melody. The titular jingle bells are prominently featured in the song, and once those are heard with the opening guitar portion, it makes the song immediately recognizable.

The mid-tempo joyous melody is super catchy as well, and that melody has helped the song stand the test of time and remain a holiday standard since its debut in 1957. 

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra 

The key for any version of this song to succeed is the emphasis on certain words and a smooth vocal tone, and Sinatra’s version earns a high grade in this department.

The hopeful tone of the tune pairs well with his crooning vocal style. This, coupled with the instrumental, helps make this cover feel classic, almost like a traditional holiday melody. 

Maxwell Patton

Wright Life Reporter