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What Went Right With Presents… The 25 Best Christmas Pop Songs

The Top 25 Best Contemporary Christmas Pop Songs by

There was a great period during the 70s and 80s in which many credible Christmas Pop songs were made. Although a novelty, this musical trend created some classic Rock, Disco, and even Hip-Hop songs that have yet to be topped decades later. It’s no coincidence that the majority of these tracks are by British singers and groups, this was something we did really well during that time, so much so that when someone mentions Wizzard or Slade, the first thing you think about is Christmas. So without further ado, let’s count down the best Christmas Pop songs of all time…


Mary’s Boy Child

By Boney M.

A 70s take on a 50s Christmas song by Jester Hairston, this is an upbeat Disco-carol that focuses on the nativity. It has been covered many times, but this version by the German-based group Boney M. is the quintessential Pop version, and because of its genre and delivery this is a unique Christmas song…


Another Rock N Roll Christmas

By Gary Glitter

I’m not one for censorship, and I’m definitely against suppression. Imagine if the establishment wanted to ban something, all they’d have to do is convict someone of a crime and people would rush to burn copies of their album, film, or book. Now I know that’s a weighty issue for a count down list, but I think it’s a strange situation when we as a society discreetly erase something from history. This Gary Glitter song was played every Christmas until he was arrested and subsequently disgraced, and because of this you’ll no longer hear it on the radio or TV. All this seems very hypocritical, especially since people like Pete Townshend and Roman Polanski are still held in high regards despite their alleged crimes; their music and films still openly praised and sold. So whether he’s guilty or not, this song by Glitter is still a classic Christmas track…


Mistletoe And Wine

By Cliff Richard

It’s not very popular to say that you like a song by Cliff Richard, but I’m not one for conforming. Whether you think Cliff is unfashionable or corny, surely a Christian singer has to be included in a list of songs relating to a Christian festival? So whereas other secular songs are definitely better, this religious track has to get a nod…


Hokey Cokey

By The Snowmen

A group made of four scary-looking snowmen repeating the popular participation party song in a husky voice, this novelty take on the Hokey Cokey was a great alternative Christmas song. Released by pub-rock label Stiff Records, rumour has it that it was Jona Lewie behind this droll Christmas track…


Christmas In Hollis

By Run-DMC

Hip-Hop got in on the Christmas act back when Kurtis Blow made “Christmas Rappin'” in 1979, but it wasn’t until 1987 that an actual Christmas-sounding Rap record made it onto the airwaves. This song by Run D.M.C. reminds me of the limo scene in “Die Hard” (check that movie out in my Top 10 Christmas Films list) and on that note, to any naysayers who say Hip-Hop isn’t festive, you need to tell them; “This is Christmas music!”…


Little Saint Nick

By The Beach Boys

It’s no coincidence that Old Nick (an alternative name for the Devil) and Saint Nicolas or Saint Nick (an alternative name for Santa Claus) is similar, in fact Santa and Satan have many things in common, their affinity for red being one. Not that any of that has anything to do with this track, I was just mentioning a Christmas conspiracy theory that says this could possibly be a clandestine Satanist holiday. All that aside, this particular song by Charles Manson besties The Beach Boys is a great little festive ditty about Santa or if you’re dyslexic, Satan…


Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

By John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Although I have some issues about the slightly hollow “Bed In” protest that Lennon and Yoko took part in, this anti-Vietnam-war song is one of John Lennon’s best solo tracks. These days many people seem to spurt out anti-war sentiments during the “season of goodwill” before switching their stance in January, maybe they should keep their December attitude all year long…


Wonderful Christmastime

By Paul McCartney

Not to take sides with members of the Beatles (personally I can’t stand the post-millennial, post-9/11 incarnation of Billy Shears) but this song is one of McCartney’s catchiest solo tracks that’s all about the Christmas feeling…


Thank God It’s Christmas

By Queen

A marvellous single by Freddie and the gang, this somewhat sombre track features simple lyrics, Christmas bells, and a steady, swaying rhythm but it crescendos during the chorus with a trademark, powerful delivery from Mercury which elevates it from being just another festive song…


Ring Out Solstice Bells

By Jethro Tull

Way before they made a mediocre Christmas album in 2003, Jethro Tull made some utterly brilliant folk music including this festive tune. In the 70s they were the flute-playing band and this ode to the Pagan Winter Solstice which coincidentally (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) takes place at the same time as Christmas, is a fantastically upbeat joint…


Christmas Wrapping

By The Waitresses

This song about a busy yet lonely single woman preparing for Christmas is unique simply because of its content. A hit for the New Wave band The Waitresses in 1981, this is an example of how a Christmas track can be both credible and original…


Fairytale Of New York

By The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

For me this has become a very overrated song in recent years, and because of its new-found popularity, this track has been covered (horrendously I might add) by numerous singers, but this original version by Celtic Punk band The Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl is obviously the best. Apparently it was written by Shane MacGowan when Elvis Costello bet him that he couldn’t write a Christmas hit, I guess Costello lost…


2000 Miles

By The Pretenders

Another slightly depressing song that has been covered badly by other singers (Cold …ahem… play) this song was apparently written for The Pretenders’ guitarist who died in 1982. Chrissie Hynde has made some great Rock music over the years, and this, her Christmas offering is no different…


Step Into Christmas

By Elton John

Before he sold out and performed with the homophobic Eminem, before he tastelessly re-wrote one of his songs to commemorate Princess Diana’s death, before he stopped taking cocaine, gained weight, and stuck hair plugs into his noggin, Elton John made some decent music. This is his Christmas offering…


Last Christmas

By Wham!

A slightly corny and simplistic beat with a basic melody, but George Michael’s vocals elevate this into something more than a throwaway Pop track, plus that chorus is mighty catchy…


Merry Christmas Everyone

By Shakin’ Stevens

Written by Scottish songwriter Bob Heatlie (of “Japanese Boy” fame) and produced by Welsh guitarist Dave Edmunds, this is a very jolly Christmas song sang by the platinum-selling Shakin’ Stevens…


Lonely This Christmas

By Mud

Played during the scene where Bernard Bottle’s girlfriend leaves him in “Bernard And The Genie“, this Christmas song about lost love during the festive season has been used many times in TV shows and adverts set during Christmas. Sang by the late Les Gray in an Elvis-esque way, this 70s slow jam is a great song for Xmas…


The Power Of Love

By Frankie Goes To Hollywood

A great song that has since been ruined by those crappy John Lewis ads (a shite cover version appeared in 2012) this 1984 song isn’t actually about Christmas at all, but if you recall the music video and the single cover, the whole thing made for a very Christmassy song indeed…


Walking In The Air

By Aled Jones

Originally sang by Peter Auty for Raymond Briggs’ animated movie “The Snowman” (Check out “The Snowman” in my Top 10 Christmas Films list) it was this cover version by Aled Jones that reached the number five position in 1985. Regardless of which version you listen to, this song by Howard Blake is a fantastic track that instantly evokes the feeling of Christmas, especially if you’ve watched Briggs’ animation…


Merry Xmas Everybody

By Slade

A huge hit for glam rockers Slade reaching number one in 1973, this song was the group’s biggest selling single. This is a hugely popular song around the holidays and you’ll always hear it on British radio, TV, and commercials. This song has apparently charted in every decade since its release and because of its popularity, Noddy Holder, lead singer and one of the writers, refers to it as his pension scheme…


I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

By Wizzard

Although it was beaten to the top spot on the charts by Slade, this was still a big hit for fellow brummie Roy Wood and his band Wizzard. Apparently the song was recorded in August, but the studio was decorated with Christmas decorations and the air con was set to the coolest setting to create a festive mood. This obviously made the atmosphere very Christmassy, because the resulting record is one of the most festive sounding songs of all time…


In Dulce Jubilo

By Mike Oldfield

A great folk song with no lyrics, this rendition of the Medieval Germanic song from the 14th Century by Mike Oldfield sounds extremely upbeat and festive. Despite it being completely instrumental, it reached the number four position in the UK charts in 1976…


Stop The Cavalry

By Jona Lewie

An anti-war song that references World War 1 and the nuclear tensions between the West and the Soviet Union during the late 70s and early 80s, this song became a Christmas hit simply because of the line “I wish I was at home for Christmas”. With a music video set in the first World War (during the winter of course) this slightly covered the anti-war sentiment with festive distractions…


A Spaceman Came Travelling

By Chris De Burgh

Before the overly commercialised “Lady In Red” days, Chris De Burgh made some great Folk-Pop music. This fantastic song from 1975 is influenced by the book “Chariots Of The Gods?” by Erich von Däniken and it interweaves ancient alien theories with the nativity and the second coming. Very unique and very atmospheric…


I Believe In Father Christmas

By Greg Lake

Hands down, this is the best Christmas song of all time. A very distinctive Christmas track in that it speaks about the lie we tell to children with regards to Santa Claus, plus it’s an unashamedly anti-commercialisation track according to the ex-Emerson, Lake, & Palmer member Greg Lake.

Sadly, Greg died this month after suffering from cancer, and because of this many people are now discovering or rediscovering Lake’s music (which usually happens when an artist dies). I compiled this list in November and it’s always been my favourite Christmas track. I’m not the kind of fickle fawner who holds something in high regard just because someone has passed away. But I digress.

This 1975 Number two hit is a fantastic Christmas Pop song in every way, and I must add that this YouTube video doesn’t do the song justice – buy it and play it on the best speakers you can and hear it’s epic scope including an orchestra and echoing vocals, and remember Greg Lake at his best…



Read the related article - What Went Wrong With Presents… The 25 Worst Christmas Pop Songs

What Went Wrong With Presents… The 25 Worst Christmas Pop Songs


2 replies »

  1. Love this countdown. It should be put on a CD and sold as an Advent Calendar. Go on do it!! I’d buy it…. ha. I agree your number one Christmas song is spot on. Merry Christmas and thank you for keeping me entertained all year with your honest but funny write ups. When is your compilation book coming out?????

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