By Kristen Cloyed, Entertainment Editor
The minute Thanksgiving arrives, radio stations switch gears. The airwaves, normally filled with Top 40 hits, are bombarded by holiday tunes. In a long line of Christmas music, there are classic wonders, nostalgic hits and humorous ditties. Here are a few of these adored songs, along with a couple new releases to spread holiday cheer.
1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Judy Garland
Judy Garland’s performance of this Christmas classic in 1944’s “Meet Me in St. Louis” is so heart-wrenching that the lyrics were rewritten to portray the upbeat, popular tune we hear today. The original version doesn’t tiptoe around feelings. Garland’s performance captures raw, unyielding emotion.
2. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” – John Lennon
This song has been remade several times, but John Lennon’s original version is by far my favorite. Lennon successfully combined a holiday tune and a plea for world peace. The only cover that’s ever come close to the original was done by Street Drum Corps, featuring The Used’s Bert McCracken on vocals. McCracken’s gritty growl is such a far cry from Lennon’s melodic hum that it works.
3. “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole
This holiday staple became one of Nat King Cole’s most career-defining performances. Sometimes referred to by its opening line “Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire,” this song is still one of the most beloved seasonal tunes.
4. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Billy Idol
Billy Idol somehow managed to make the creepiest Christmas music video ever with his cover of Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock.” But Idol’s voice is so cheery that it’s hard not to look past the crazy look in his eyes and fake snow magically following his silly hand gestures.
5. “White Christmas” – Bing Crosby
This song from 1942’s “Holiday Inn” won an Academy Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture and has sold 50 million copies worldwide. “White Christmas” has been recorded countless times by different artists over the years, but no one can compare to Bing Crosby.
6. “What Christmas Means To Me” – Hanson
When Christmas finally rolled around, I could finally bust out my sister’s copy of Hanson’s “Snowed In.” This CD was by far the best thing about the holidays for my 7-year-old self. I still love these songs, and I’m not ashamed to say it. The brothers’ cover of Stevie Wonder’s “What Christmas Means To Me” plays on repeat inside my head every December.
7. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey
It’s hard to make it through December without hearing this contemporary Christmas favorite. Earlier this week, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Holiday Songs chart, a big feat for a song that was released 17 years ago.
8. “Feliz Navidad” – José Feliciano
Try not to get this song stuck in your head. I dare you. It’s hard to avoid catching the sing-a-long bug when this bilingual Christmas tune streams through the speakers. This 1970 song is still popular worldwide.
9. “The Chanukah Song” – Adam Sandler
Holiday music is dominated by Christmas-themed tunes, something Adam Sandler realized when he penned this song with “Saturday Night Live” writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham. The theme of the song, which Sandler performed on “SNL” in 1994, focuses on Jewish children feeling alienated during the Christmas season.
10. “12 Pains of Christmas” – Bob Rivers
This goofy parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is one of my family’s favorite Christmas songs. Performed by Seattle radio personality Bob Rivers, this tune reflects on the less enjoyable aspects of the holidays, like “rigging up the lights” or “finding parking spaces.”
If you’re looking for something new this year, jazz pop artist Michael Bublé and indie rock band She & Him both have releases fresh out of the studio. Bublé’s “Christmas” features 15 tracks of classics like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
This is Bublé’s second Christmas album. She & Him’s “A Very She & Him Christmas” offers a dozen tunes including “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Blue Christmas.” She & Him is the side project of multi-talented actress Zooey Deschanel and Monsters of Folk’s M. Ward.