Tinsel-toppin’ 20: The best Christmas songs

Ah, Christmastime! This time of the year just makes me happy – the lights and decorations, the gatherings with family and friends and of course – the music!

I’m the kind of girl who will find myself listening to Christmas music randomly throughout the year and constantly from Thanksgiving (and sometimes sooner) right through Christmas.

Nothing else will play through my car speakers but Christmas music! I know that’s a little too much for some people, but for anyone who knows me, it doesn’t surprise them at all!

So, I may not be an expert on music, but I would like to share a few of my favorite Christmas songs with you. Since there are so many songs with multiple versions of each, I found it hard to narrow my list down. There are a few that I?would have liked to include, but settled on 20.

Here we go!

20. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” by Gayla Peevey – 1953

Peevey was 10 years old when she recorded this song. She has a silly little voice that contributes to the silliness of the song.

19. “Last Christmas,” by Wham! – 1984

This song, by the English duo George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, has been covered by many artists since it’s original release, but I prefer the original version of the tune over any of the others. The music video also is a must-see. Check it out on YouTube.

18. “Christmas Waltz,” By Frank Sinatra – 1954

I love the crooners! This is only one of my favorites from Sinatra. You will see him pop up again on my list, along with some of his buddies whom he sang with often, like Dean Martin and Bing Crosby.

17. “Christmas Time is Here,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio – 1965

This song was written for the television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” one of the first animated Christmas television specials. There are two versions of the song – an instrumental and also a vocal version sung by the cast of the television special. I am a huge “Peanuts” fan, so of course this song would be on my list.

16. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” By Dean Martin – 1959

This song was recorded by more than 30 artists, but this is the version I like the best. Martin refers to Rudolph as “Rudy the red-beaked reindeer” in the song.

15. “(It Must’ve Been Ol’) Santa Claus,” By Harry Connick Jr. – 1993

This song gets my feet tapping whenever I hear it. I love the beat and energy of the tune.

14. “Merry Christmas Darling,” By The Carpenters – 1970

Karen Carpenter had a voice that seemed to never sing a single note off key. I like a lot of The Carpenter’s Christmas tunes, but if I had to pick one, this one would be my favorite.

13. “Mele Kalikimaka,” By Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters – 1950

This song combines one of my favorite Christmas singers with one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation.” The song plays while Clark Griswold is looking out his window dreaming of putting in a swimming pool in the yard.

12. “Jingle Bells,” By Frank Sinatra – 1957

“I love those J-I-N-G-L-E bells … Those happy J-I-N-G-L-E B-E double L-S!” Not much else to say about this one, besides I love this version of the song!

11. “12 Days of Christmas,” by The Muppets and John Denver – 1979

I loved this one as a child, and still do. This is from a soundtrack that Denver did with The Muppets, called “A Christmas Together.” It also features “Christmas is Coming” with Miss Piggy, which I love, and another song that also will show up on my list.

10. “Marshmallow World,” by Dean Martin – 1966

Of course my favorite version of this song is by Dean Martin, but I also like the version of him singing it with Sinatra.

9. “Wonderful Christmastime,” by Paul McCartney – 1979

A poppy and fun Christmas tune by the former Beatle.

8. “Step Into Christmas,” by Elton John – 1973

Another peppy fun Christmas tune to dance around to.

7. “Deck the Halls,” John Denver – 1979

Another Denver song off of the album with The Muppets and my favorite version of the tune.

7. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” by James Taylor – 2006

Another song by many artists, but I love Taylor’s version of this song.

6. “Happy Xmas (War is Over), by John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band – 1971

This originally was a Vietnam War protest song. It has been covered by other artists, but Lennon did it best.

5. “Dominick the Donkey,” by Lou Monte – 1960

Dominick is the Italian Christmas donkey. As the song explains, “When Santa visits his paisans, with Dominick he’ll be, because the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Italy.” This is one of my Italian momma’s favorite Christmas tunes too.

4. “Snoopy’s Christmas,” by The Royal Guardsmen – 1967

This is a follow-up song to their earlier “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.” In “Snoopy’s Christmas,” Snoopy must go out and fight the Red Baron on Christmas Eve, but instead of shooting Snoopy down, The Baron offers him a holiday toast.

3. “Someday at Christmas,” by Stevie Wonder – 1967

This is a great song about hopes for the future of Christmas with no war, hunger or fear. Recorded by many since the original, but Wonder does it best.

2. “Little Saint Nick,” by The Beach Boys – 1963

The rhythm of the song is borrowed from the Beach Boy song “Little Deuce Coupe” and tells about the hip little guy, Saint Nick.

1. “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby – 1982

This is a duet between Bowie and Crosby. “Little Drummer Boy” originally was written in 1941, but the lyrics for “Peace on Earth” were written in 1982 for Bowie and Crosby’s recording.

So, there you go, a list of my 20 favorite Christmas tunes. If you haven’t heard of some of them, I hope you look them up and give them a listen.

Merry Christmas!

Reppert is the Lifestyle and Education editor at the Sun-Gazette.