Maybe we’re biased, but for our 88Nine family, the best part about the holidays is the music! We asked 88Nine staffers to make the grueling choice of their favorite holiday song.
See their answers below. Or listen to the whole playlist here.
Dori Zori – “Blue Christmas” by Elvis
My favorite holiday song is “Blue Christmas,” the Elvis version. I got my love of Elvis from my Grandma when I was wee little. I mean, he’s pretty dreamy, right? My Grandma Yvonne gave me an Elvis ornament that plays “Blue Christmas” and once I hang it on the tree, it’s my official start to the holiday season.
Peter Adams – “Santa’s Got A Bag of Soul” by The Soul Saints Orchestra
This is one of the all-time Christmas jams.
Doris Wessels – “¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?” by Guster
I like “¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?” by Guster because I just think it is so fun!
Rebecca Steiner – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen + “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” by Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Jordan Lee – “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole
My Dad has this on cassette, and we would listen this EVERY year at Christmas.
Amelinda Burich – “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano
While no one in my family speaks Spanish, we always put this record on in my family’s house for making Christmas cookies or decorating the Christmas tree. When the needle hit that record, it instantly felt like the holidays.
Alyssa Feuerer – “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys always elicit happy vibes for me. My dad spun their vinyl a lot in our basement when I was growing up, so anytime I hear one of their songs it takes me back to those moments.
Fun fact, the Little Saint Nick rhythm was built from Little Deuce Coupe. If you listen to one and then the other, you’ll notice the structural similarities.
Logan McDermott – “12 Days of Christmas” by Yellowman
This rendition is about the true gifts of Holiday season: peace, love, all living things, and the Earth and all it’s beauty. You can only feel warm when listening to Jamaican Christmas jams.
Jeff Bentoff – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band
I’ve always been partial to “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band. I love Lennon’s voice, the sentiments in the song and Phil Spector’s production. It’s also an unintentionally sad song as it reminds me of Lennon’s murder a few weeks before Christmas in 1980.
Glenn Kleiman – “Zat You, Santa Claus?” by Louis Armstrong
Nathan Imig – “Last Christmas” by WHAM!
Not only is the music video epic, terrible and awesome all at once — the hair! — but it’s also one of the best original Christmas songs in my option. Very much still danceable, while wearing wool socks and making cookies.
Francesca Kempfer – “Alfie: The Christmas Tree” by John Denver
I love anything from John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album. I’m a child of the 70s. If I have to pick just one, it’s “Alfie: The Christmas Tree.” He was full of Christmas cheer, all of each and every day, all throughout the year!
Kenny Perez – “Someday At Christmas” by Stevie Wonder
So good! Makes me tear up!
Kris deFelice – “The March” from The Nutcracker
As soon as it would play, all the kids and I would bust out our best ballet leaps. The whole house would shake!
Cheryl Bennett – “Santa Baby” by Earth Kitt
This is my Christmas decorating and gift wrapping song. It’s makes me laugh and dance.
Cynthia Zanow – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC
My cousins and I choreographed a dance to it when we were 13 years old to perform at our family Christmas party. Gets me feeling like prepubescent teen every time I hear it.
Marcus Doucette – “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters + “Deck the Halls” by Jacob Miller
Sarah McClanahan – “Sleigh Ride” by Amy Grant
I didn’t know the real name of this song until my sophomore year in high school. To our family, it was simply “The Jingle Song,” And every year when we (thinking back, somewhat creepily) drove around our town looking at the holiday lights of our neighbors, we would beg for my mom to turn on the “The Jingle Song” and belt out every word. I love the memories this song brings back.
Luke Repetti – “That Spirit of Christmas” by Ray Charles
Justin Barney – “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” by LCD Soundsystem
For all the Christmas songs written over all the years, I had to look back just one year to find my favorite Christmas song of all time. LCD Soundsystem officially stopped releasing music in 2010 after their final album, This is Happening, BUT they broke the silence one time – on December 24, 2015 they released “Christmas Will Break Your Heart.”
The thing I like about this song is that it’s crushingly sad. I think it’s easy to feel sad at Christmastime because the pressure for it to be perfectly happy is unbearably high, and any little crack in the perfect image of a postcard Christmas can make you feel like you are on the outside of the fairy tale, looking in. And even if everything is fine and dandy, it still feels good to hear James Murphy’s voice ramp up and up and explode with heartbreaking emotion.
Maggie Corry – “Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson
It’s a Corry family tradition!
Ken Sumka – “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
Makes me misty EVERY TIME. Just a gorgeously written song.
Fun backstory: Steve Lillywhite was the producer on this and Cait O’Riordan of The Pogues was supposed to be the female vocalist. When they were making the initial recording, Cait wasn’t around, so Steve got his wife, Kirsty to record Cait’s part as a guide vocal. The rest is history. Kirsty nailed the part and ended up being the one on the final recording. Sadly, Kirsty died in Mexico in a boating accident in 2000 and if you had told me Shane MacGowan would outlive Kirsty MacColl, I’d never have believed you for a second, but sadly it’s true.
Makenzie Boettcher – “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes
Always a favorite of mine. Listening to the lyrics again, it gets pretty dark, but every time it snows and I’m all bundled up in a scarf and puffy coat, this is the best.