The Ten (Insert Superlative Here) Christmas Songs

A list of ten Christmas songs with particular vibes I enjoy.

1. Christmas At Ground Zero - “Weird Al” Yankovic

The best of the “joke” Christmas songs you would hear on classic rock stations, well above “Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer” or Porky Pig singing “Blue Christmas”, but it stopped getting radio airplay because after 9/11 the phrase “ground zero” went from the generalized dystopian idea of where a nuclear bomb lands to specifically the World Trade Center (that’s very America of us). It’s on this list so you never forget what we lost.

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2. Santa Tell Me - Ariana Grande

I like this song well enough, but there’s something else to it because it’s the only Christmas song that, when it comes on, anywhere and at any volume, Lorelei starts singing along like she’s an awakened sleeper agent.

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3. Feliz Navidad - José Feliciano


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4. Mary Did You Know - every Catholic musician in history

Many years of attending Catholic school as an atheist means I could do with out anything espousing the true meaning of Christmas, but I personally enjoy this one because it strongly implies that Jesus takes over the world with an army of zombies.

I dunno, church?

5. Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio

It’s Christmas Eve. You’re sweaty, wrapped up in fleece footy pajamas and under a blanket, laying on a high pile carpet floor, using a Christmas present as a pillow (is it a Nintendo?). You can hear adults around you talking but their words are muffled and the syllables distorted. The edges of your vision are blurred, strange Caldor-color rainbows, but in the center the warm yellow glow of a CRT TV. On it, a dog points his nose at the sky and wiggles his arms and feet erratically. You fall asleep, knowing someone will pick you up and put you in your bed, and in the morning it will be Christmas.

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6. What’s This? - Danny Elfman from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Every time my brain has the thought “what’s this?” it’s immediately repeated (what’s this!) and then this song begins.

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7. Carol of The Bells

With a nod to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” as heard on “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”. The Christmas songs you can headbang to.

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8. Please Come Home For Christmas - Charles Brown

If you were drinking spiced egg nog while reading this, here is where you skip the egg nog part of the mix. Take a pretty standard blues arrangement, throw church bells in the background and a piano that sounds like sleigh bells, it’s a Christmas song! A really, really sad Christmas song about being alone at Christmas.

The sad, sad part is the Eagles version gets played the most. I fuckin’ hate the Eagles, man.

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9. River - Joni Mitchell

Oh you thought that last one was sad, did you? While “Please Come Home For Christmas” covers Christmas day through New Years, this one starts with “putting up Christmas”, so now we’ve got the day after Thanksgiving through to New Years covered with sadness.

I will acknowledge that “I wish I had a river I could skate away on” probably doesn’t hit as hard for people who grew up in warm climates, but on the other hand every musician who has seen ice once has covered this song so there’s something to those words.

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10. Someday at Christmas - Stevie Wonder

There’s a lot of songs that fit a theme of “it’s the end of the year, and having some time to reflect on the state of things, I’ve decided the world could generally be a lot better than it is”, but this one is the best one. Also a good one to end this list on because as Stevie says, someday at Christmas everything will be right, but it’ll be long after you’re dead.

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