Some stores start stocking Christmas decorations and wrapping paper as early as the end of October, and some families begin decking their halls in holiday finery in late November. But for many people, the holiday season has not truly begun until the music synonymous with this festive time of year has hit the airwaves.
Few things can make a person feel as festive as the holiday songs they know and love. Many families have a favorite musical artist whose music they consider synonymous with their holiday celebrations. While families have their own unique holiday traditions, over time certain holiday songs have emerged as favorites. These are the tunes you're likely to hear played over and over on the radio. Billboard, which tracks the music industry's most popular songs, compiled its own list of the most popular Christmas songs. The list measures the volume of people who have been exposed to the song on the radio, and is based on ranking rather than exact figures of listeners, and the following are the 10 most popular songs based on those parameters.
10. "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," by John Lennon: This song debuted in 1971 and was written by Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono. Performed with the Harlem Community Choir, the song was originally a protest song about the Vietnam Warm before it eventually became a Christmas standard.
9. "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)," by Trans-Siberian Orchestra: According to Nielsen, this instrumental mash-up of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells" is one of the best-selling Christmas digital singles in SoundScan history. A combination of full, classical orchestra and rock, "Christmas Eve" is a memorable and powerful piece of music.
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8. "White Christmas," by Bing Crosby: Crosby crooned this tune in 1942 in the movie of the same name, and Irving Berlin's song soon became one of the most popular holiday tunes of all time. It has been covered innumerable times and has become a holiday season standard.
7. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," by Andy Williams: This popular Christmas song was written by Edward Pola and George Wyle in 1963. The song celebrates the traditions and feelings of the Christmas season.
6. "Feliz Navidad," by Jose Feliciano: This Spanish-English pop song is recognized by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as one of the 25 most-played and recorded Christmas songs around the world. Puerto-Rican born Feliciano has said that the song has always been a bridge to the cultures that are so dear to him.
5. "A Holly Jolly Christmas," by Burl Ives: This song was written by Johnny Marks, an American songwriter. Ironically, Marks was Jewish, but he specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many of the holiday standards people love, including this upbeat tune and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
4. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," by Nat King Cole: Believe it or not, this song was actually written in the summer when composers Bob Wells and Mel Torme were trying to cool off with winter imagery. Snow-covered images and phrases eventually turned into lyrics for this popular song that was most memorably recorded by Nat King Cole.
3. "Jingle Bell Rock," by Bobby Helms: This song has been performed by many, but Helms' version of the is perhaps the best known. The song highlights the crossover style known as "rockabilly" and merges the classic "Jingle Bells" with rock n' roll references of the 1950s.
2. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," by Brenda Lee: Brenda Lee was a chart-topping female vocalist of the 1960s who owes much of her success to this beloved holiday classic. Despite the mature sound of her voice, Lee recorded this version when she was only 13 years old.
1. "All I Want for Christmas is You," by Mariah Carey: This up-tempo love song has become a Christmas classic and one of Carey's most popular hits. She cowrote and coproduced the song with Walter Afansieff. It is one of the few, modern, original Christmas songs to stand the test of time and become an official Christmas standard.