Who sang the best Christmas songs ever?
Every band or vocalist worth their recording contract eventually releases a Christmas album. Even Bob Dylan has a Christmas album—it’s inevitable. But figuring out which particular Christmas songs are the best sellers is pretty tricky, especially with so many covers out there. Even worse, a lot of Christmas songs were written before anyone kept (or had the means to keep) comprehensive sales records.
Are you one who puts your favorite Christmas song on repeat every day in December? These 30 Christmas songs are without a doubt bestsellers of all time, though—every single one has been covered by Mariah Carey and was probably performed by the cast of “Glee” but we still love them.
Here are 30 best-selling Christmas songs of all time:
30.) Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney
“Wonderful Christmastime” was recorded during the sessions for his solo album McCartney II, it was released in November 1979 following Wings’ final album. It was McCartney’s first solo single since Wings formed. The song charted in numerous countries, including the Billboard Hot 100 and Holiday 100 charts in the United States and in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart and has since been certified Gold.
Although regarded as one of McCartney’s weaker compositions by numerous music critics, the song continues to enjoy significant Christmas time popularity around the world, and has been covered by numerous artists.Listen on Amazon Music
29.) The Christmas Waltz – Harry Connick Jr.
The Christmas Waltz was written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne for Frank Sinatra, who recorded it in 1954 as the B-side of a new recording of “White Christmas”, in 1957. There was not a version of the song that reached any of the various charts in Billboard magazine, however, until the 2003 holiday season when Harry Connick, Jr. reached number 26 with it on the Adult Contemporary chart during a two-week stay that began in the issue dated January 3, 2004.Listen on Amazon Music
28.) Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
For The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album, the first side was original Christmas songs written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, and the other side contained traditional favorites like “Frosty The Snowman” and “White Christmas. “The “Run run, reindeer” line was copped from Chuck Berry’s song “Run Rudolph Run,” where Berry sings, “Run run, Rudolph.”
The song was also used in a popular Coke commercial featuring a moment of Christmas cheer between animated polar bears and penguins.Listen on Amazon Music
27.) Christmas Time is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio
26. What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
“What Christmas Means To Me” as written by Allen Story, Anna Gaye and George Gordy.
The premise of the song is that he appreciates the simple things that come with Christmas; the things that most people tend to pass over for the gifts and secularity of the holiday. He is also thankful for the love which is in his life at this special time of year.Listen on Amazon Music
25. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
“Santa Baby” is a 1953 Christmas song sung by sultry nightclub performer Eartha Kitt. The song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a Christmas list addressed to Santa Claus by a woman who wants extravagant gifts such as sables, yachts, and decorations from Tiffany’s. At the end of 1953, Joan Javits, who was the niece of US Senator Jacob Javits, wrote “Santa Baby” for Kitt with Philip Springer, and it became a holiday hit and Kitt’s most famous song.
The song has been used on a number of TV specials and appeared in the movie Driving Miss Daisy. Artists to cover the song include Taylor Swift, Natalie Merchant, Kylie Minogue, The Pussycat Dolls, LeAnn Rimes, Faith Evans and Kellie Pickler.Listen on Amazon Music
24.) Please Come Home For Christmas – Eagles
The song was originally written and released by blues singer Charles Brown in 1960. In 1978, the rock band Eagles covered and released the song as a holiday single.
The Eagles version includes the lyrics “bells will be ringing the sad, sad news” as opposed to Brown’s original version which references the “glad, glad news”.Listen on Amazon Music
23.) Mistletoe and Holly – Frank Sinatra
“Mistletoe and Holly” is a holiday masterpiece that brings out all the emotions that most classic Sinatra recordings do, including a yearning for the “good old days.” One can listen to the seemingly simple message of this carol and be transported to a time when life, itself, was also simple. The song is about love and family and the season.Listen on Amazon Music
22.) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Jackson 5
The song was written in 1952 by British songwriter Tommie Conner but was made famous by The Jackson 5 in 1970. When the song originally was released, there were objections raised by church groups, who took exception to the lyrics, while radio stations in Boston, influenced by local Catholic Church officials, even banned the song when it came out.
‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ was one of the tracks on Jackson 5 Christmas Album. The album was recorded when child prodigy Michael Jackson was on the cusp of his 12th birthday. The joke of the song, of course, is that the man kissing the woman under the mistletoe is in fact the boy protagonist’s father, who is wearing a Santa costume.Listen on Amazon Music
21.) Here Comes Santa Claus – Elvis Presley
Here comes Santa Claus is one of Elvis’s most-beloved Christmas songs. Presley first released his version of the song in 1957 on Elvis’ Christmas Album. Here Comes Santa Claus was written by Gene Autry in 1947 and has been covered by over 200 artists. Elvis Presley still has the most popular holiday album of all time, Elvis’ Christmas Album, originally released in 1957, has sold more than 12 million copies.Listen on Amazon Music
20.) A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
This classic Christmas song have become one of the Top 25 most performed Christmas songs of all time. Ives actually recorded two versions of ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’, which was written by Marks in 1962, but it is the slower one, released in October 1965, its the song we all know and love. Ives first performed the song on the 1964 Christmas television special Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, in which Ives also did the voice of the narrator, Sam The Snowman.
The song again charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017, 52 years after its original release.Listen on Amazon Music
19.) Christmas Lights – Coldplay
The song was released in 2010 by the British band Coldplay has has gone gold in Denmark, Italy and the UK. The song takes the listener through the blues of a young man during the Christmas season heart broken due to his love leaving him. But when he see the Christmas lights in town they give him hope. The lights help take away all the singers troubles and gives him motivation to keep going.Listen on Amazon Music
18.) Baby It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
It was originally a party song written by Frank Loesser for him and his wife, Lynn, to perform for the purpose of entertaining guests. The Loessers knew their way around a song: Frank composed Guys and Dolls and many other musicals; Lynn, a former nightclub singer, co-produced the musical The Most Happy Fella, which Frank wrote. There are many great versions of the song, but no other done better than Dean Martin with Marilyn Maxwell.
The song has found some unnecessary controversy as being thought of as sexist. But the small percentage of folks complaining about the lyrics has been stomped out by fans of the 1940 classic.Listen on Amazon Music
17.) It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
16.) Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
This song was recorded in 1958 when Brenda Lee was 13 and only started doing well when she became a pop breakthrough in 1960; two years after it was released. It has been a holiday favorite ever since.
It peaked at No. 6 in the UK Charts and her original version had sold over 25 million copies with the 4th most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single.Listen on Amazon Music
15.) Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen
“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” has been recorded by over 200 artists including Mariah Carey, Frank Sinatra, Justin Bieber, and Michael Bubble.
It was first performed on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in 1934 and was an instant hit. Then by The Supremes in 1965. Bruce Springsteen has made it a traditional part of his live concerts during the holidays.Listen on Amazon Music
14.) Fairytale of New York – The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl
After Elvis Costello said the band wouldn’t be able to write a Christmas song that wasn’t “slushy”, Fairytale of New York was birth. The song was first abandoned after an exit from the band before MacColl was asked to sing on the actual recording. It became a huge success and sold 1.18m copies.
No less than £400,000 in royalties is being ranked each year for Fairytale of New York, even thirty years after its release.Listen on Amazon Music
13.) Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
First recorded by Ernest Tubb and known as a Country Christmas song was No. 5 on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list, but each December, Elvis Presley’s rock n roll version with plenty of swag is the one we’ve come to count on for over 50 years now being a festive staple.
Blue Christmas is one of the most-covered Christmas classics with memorable versions by Porky Pig and Blake Shelton. Elvis Christmas Album still to this day remains the best-selling Christmas Album of all time.Listen on Amazon Music
12.) Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
This song is an extension of “Jingle Bells” that has been performed by many, but Bobby Helms version is best known. After it was released in 1957, it topped the Christmas chart five years in a row which made it a holiday classics.
To date, it still retains a huge presence in the Christmas canon with over 780,000 downloads according to Nielsen SoundScan.Listen on Amazon Music
11.) Happy Christmas (War is Over) – John Lennon/Yoko Ono
Tired of ‘White Christmas’, Lennon wrote a song with an anti-Vietnam war purpose promoting the activism that he and Yoko did in previous years. This Christmas tune wasn’t an immediate hit and failed to chart in the U.S upon its first release.
On its release the following year, it reached No. 4 in the U.K and was then re-released in 1980 after the death of the former Beatle. This time, it climbed to No. 2 and re-emerged on the charts in 2003 and 2007.Listen on Amazon Music
10.) Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte, American calypso star first released Mary’s Boy Child in the 1950s and before Boney M did his version.
The only song to ever hit Christmas No. 1 twice. Harry’s version started it all being a massive hit that still delivers.Listen on Amazon Music
9.) Last Christmas – Wham!
When “Last Christmas” was released, it failed to reach No. 1 in the UK due to the “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid. It was the biggest selling #2 single of all time, shifting a whopping 1.82 million sales back in 1984, and only missing out on the top spot because of the colossal Band Aid single.
Each year the hit sells more and more copies and is currently sitting comfortably at #3 in the UK Singles Chart.Listen on Amazon Music
8.) The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
The title of this song is officially credited almost everywhere as “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”. This is because without adding the first line of the song in parentheses no one would know what song was meant. The most successful version of the song was Nat “King” Cole’s 1946 cover, which was certified six times platinum by the RIAA in 2009.
Not only has that recording alone sold over six million copies, but some version is also included on the holiday album of nearly every major artist. Sadly, this song is unfairly blamed for triggering every television Christmas special to feature hosts sitting by a fireplace wearing bulky wool sweaters of questionable taste.Listen on Amazon Music
7.) The Little Drummer Boy – The Harry Simeone Chorale
With music based on a traditional Spanish song, as recorded in 1958 by The Harry Simeone Chorale, “The Little Drummer Boy” is another Christmas classic of reasonably recent vintage.
When Simeone died in 2005, over 150 covers of Simeone’s arrangement of the song had sold a combined 25 million copies worldwide. The coolest version ever made, however, goes to David Bowie and Bing Crosby for their 1977 duet that mashed up the tune with the song “Peace on Earth.”Listen on Amazon Music
6.) Mistletoe – Justin Bieber
Just at the peak of his success, Mistletoe was released from his Christmas album titled “Under the Mistletoe” which debuted at No. 1 on the album chart and became a smash hit.
The song with reggae vibes peaked at No. 2 on the contemporary chart reaching Platinum with 1.1 million downloads.Listen on Amazon Music
5.) Silent Night – Bing Crosby
Unlike any other song on this list, “Silent Night” is a real classic. Written in 1818, this song is now in the public domain, which means anyone can record a version of it. They would not have to pay for the rights to use it—and modern artists have done just that.
Bing Crosby once again set the trend, and his version sold an estimated 30 million copies. This song has been covered by vocalists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Beyoncé Knowles, Brad Paisley, Rod Stewart and so on. If you set out to make a list of artists who hadn’t covered Silent Night at some point, your list would probably be shorter.Listen on Amazon Music
4.) Do They Know it’s Christmas? – Band Aid
“Do They know it’s Christmas” was an impromptu project to provide aid for victims of a famine that was ravaging the people of Ethiopia.
So, being the best-selling song ever is satisfactory since it was for a good cause. Since its release in 1984, it has had over 3.8 million units sold.
Also, it has become a radio Christmas standard and one Christmas hit to sell over 3 million copies.Listen on Amazon Music
3.) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
Back in 1939, one of Montgomery Ward’s copywriters, Robert May, wrote a story the department store could print in a coloring book and use as a promotional giveaway to customers. In a flash of nepotistic inspiration, May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks decided to write a song about the little reindeer with a shiny nose. Gene Autry recorded the classic version of the song.
Twenty-five million copies and a couple of stop-motion animated features later, the song is a Christmas staple. The heart-warming anti-bullying tale has been told through song by Christmas-caroling artists ranging from surfer Jack Johnson to rapper DMX.Listen on Amazon Music
2.) All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey
This hit has always found itself on the charts every year since its release. Although it didn’t make it to No. 1 in the UK, it is now the most downloaded Christmas song of all time.
In 2013, it made the million-sales mark and has gone platinum twice. Now every time we hear this song we know Christmas season is here.Listen on Amazon Music
1.) White Christmas – Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby’s 1947 version has the Guinness Book record for the best-selling Christmas song of all time with an estimated 50 million copies sold—and that’s just one version! That wasn’t even Crosby’s first recording of Irving Berlin’s now-classic Christmas tune. Cosby’s version has been covered by nearly every artist who decided the world needed to hear their version of it. You’d be hard-pressed to find a holiday album released any time in the past 60 years that doesn’t have some version of this song on it.Listen on Amazon Music
What’s your favorite Christmas song to play every holiday season?
If you’re in a festive mood, you may enjoy reading articles on those ugly Christmas sweaters too!