Mariah Carey may have already announced that the holiday season is in full swing with her annual “It’s... TIME!!!” campaign on social media, but for some, Thanksgiving is the true Christmas season kickoff. For those who look at the harvest holiday as an acceptable occasion to bring out the holiday decorations and turn on the timely, festive tunes, the time has finally come to guiltlessly turn on the Yuletide music.
Throughout the last few decades, dozens of different types of cheery jingles have graced our homes to set the tone for warm celebrations during the holiday period. But, which carols jingle all the way to the most iconic status? Some of the most memorable Christmas tracks to date are pop bops. Very few Christmas pop songs stand the test of time, but the ones that do consist of upbeat tempos, catchy melodies and “sleigh”-worthy lyrics.
Since Thanksgiving is finally around the corner, let’s gather together to get into the Christmas spirit with some of the most iconic holiday pop songs of all time.
“I'll Be Home For Christmas” by Camila Cabello
In 2021, Camila Cabello released her rendition of Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which she went on to perform at the White House with Mariachi Herencia de México.
Last year, the performance clip resurfaced on TikTok when fans noticed her unique pronunciation of “Christmas,” and it started to trend across social media platforms. The former Fifth Harmony member eventually responded to the viral TikTok sound by poking fun at herself on social media, releasing a comedic skit of her trying to teach herself how to say the holiday.
Between the mariachis accompaniment and the iconic pronunciation of “Christmas,” this might be one of the top renditions of the original classic.
“Merry Christmas” by Ed Sheeran and Elton John
Two musical powerhouses, Elton John and Ed Sheeran, joined forces last year to produce the song “Merry Christmas.” What makes this track so special? The music video, which was directed by Jason Koenig, pays homage to iconic Christmas music videos and films, including Wham!’s “Last Christmas.”
“Oh Santa!” by Mariah Carey featuring Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson
Mariah Carey tapped Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson to recreate her 2010 Christmas song, “Oh Santa!,” re-releasing the new remix on the song’s tenth anniversary in 2020. The new version was the lead single from Carey’s Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special, which aired on Apple TV+. What’s better than one incredible vocalist? Three!
“Sleigh Ride” by Miley Cyrus
Originally performed in Netflix’s
“Christmas Time” by Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera released a holiday album in 2000 called My Kind of Christmas with the opening track, “Christmas Time,” which was an original, upbeat pop song that featured an epic rap run towards the end. When she dropped the Christmas record, it garnered mixed reviews, but as time has passed, this track reigns with its mere pop brilliance.
“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson
Off of her first holiday album Wrapped in Red, Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” has solidified itself as a holiday song staple thanks to her impeccable vocals and spunky, contemporary sequences fused with nostalgic flair. It’s simply a perfect pop classic.
“Cozy Little Christmas” by Katy Perry
Katy Perry consistently serves vibrant wardrobe ensembles and unforgettable, catchy tunes. “Cozy Little Christmas” does just that. Only being her second Christmas song ever after “Every Day Is a Holiday,” the pop star should consider producing a holiday album in the future considering this is pure pop magic.
“My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears
In 2000, Jive Records released Platinum Christmas, a compilation album featuring the label’s artists including Monica, Christina Aguilera, Santana, Backstreet Boys, TLC and Whitney Houston. Britney Spears’ “My Only Wish (This Year)” was the promotional single for the record and went on to become the Christmas classic we know it to be today.
“Christmas Tree Farm” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift wrote the cozy and whimsical tune “Christmas Tree Farm” in 2001, creating one of the most iconic pop holiday songs ever. The official music video is heartfelt, showcasing a compilation of home videos from Swift’s childhood. The singer-songwriter makes farm life seem so glamorous.
“8 Days of Christmas” by Destiny's Child
There’s nothing more iconic than the members of Destiny’s Child dressed up in Mrs. Santa Claus outfits. Based on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the trio unveiled their version “8 Days of Christmas” in 2001, which was featured on their holiday album by the same title.
“Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande
Released in 2014, Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me” skyrocketed to Christmas song royalty when she performed it during the A Very Grammy Christmas show.
The music video (above) is a lighthearted visual that shows Grande and her friends having innocent fun at what seems like a sleepover.
“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney unveiled “Wonderful Christmastime” in 1979. He originally created and recorded it while he was working on his solo album, McCartney II. The former Beatles member is responsible for the entire creation of the song, including everything from the vocals to the instrumentation and production, which is super impressive — even for a Beatle.
“Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber dropped “Mistletoe” as the lead track off of his first Christmas project, Under the Mistletoe, in 2011. The song made waves when it set the record for the highest debut ever for a Christmas song on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC
“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” was the only single from *NSYNC’s holiday album, Home for Christmas, which turned 25 this year. The boy band debuted Christmas music only after their first studio album, proving their prominence in the music scene during that time.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber
There’s no debate that the most iconic Christmas song ever is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but most forget about the version she did with Justin Bieber. Carey and Bieber, who arguably have some of the best Christmas music of all time, partnered up for a special version of the holiday hit. While most fail to talk about this remix at their holiday gatherings, it has garnered over 220 million views on YouTube.
Honorary Mention/New Recommendation — “It's Lit” by Friend of Friend
Originally featured in the Netflix limited series Dash