Christmas is just a week away and everyone will be cranking up their favorite holiday songs, whether it’s a selection from a personal playlist or a radio station that has been playing non-stop Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving. There’s always the usual favorites and classics, like Jingle Bell Rock or Carol of the Bells that will play without fail every single year. But then you have those other Christmas songs that don’t play as much on the radio or are original, new releases from today’s hottest artists that don’t get any air time at all. With Christmas almost here, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite songs that I wish played more often than they actually are. I mean, there’s only so many different renditions of Santa Baby or It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year you can listen to before it gets just the tiniest bit played out.
1. ‘N SYNC – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
The ’90s was the decade for boy bands or the battle of the boy bands, like Backstreet Boys and ‘N SYNC. No matter which side you fell on the divide, you most likely heard one of these band’s songs permeating every Top 40 radio station in the country. It came as no surprise when ‘N SYNC released their own Christmas album, Home for Christmas, in 1998. The most popular single they played off their holiday album was Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. It’s what you would expect from an ‘N SYNC song—super poppy and synchronized harmonies with a young Justin Timberlake leading the vocals. But it’s fun and the perfect addition to any Christmas playlist if you’ve got some ’90s music nostalgia. The music video is also very cheesy and full on ’90s with Gary Coleman making a special cameo with the boys. You definitely don’t see music videos like this one anymore.
2. 98 Degrees – This Gift
While Backstreet Boys and ‘N SYNC dominated the boy band scene in the ’90s, 98 Degrees was a boy band that wasn’t as big as the main two but they weren’t obscure unknowns either. Led by Nick Lachey with younger brother Drew making up the four member boy band group, they had come out with such hits as Because of You and I Do (Cherish You). Following the trend of hit artists of the decade eventually creating their own Christmas albums, 98 Degrees released This Christmas in 1999. This Gift was their most popular single off of their Christmas album and it played fairly often during the time it came out. This Gift is a slower and more romantic Christmas song on my list and I really love the opening lyrics of the song, “The snow is falling, the city is white. Your eyes are shining like diamonds tonight.” It may be the corniest first few words of the song, but the imagery it conjured up in my mind really stuck with me. If you’re lucky enough to have someone you can hold real close this holiday season, This Gift isn’t such a bad song to have playing in the background while sipping on some eggnog.
3. Kelly Clarkson – Underneath the Tree
I’ve always enjoyed the original American Idol winner’s amazing singing voice. She had the catchiest pop songs and her raw talent is undeniable in every single or album she released. When Kelly Clarkson released her own Christmas album back in 2013 entitled, Wrapped in Red, the only song off of that album I’ve heard was Underneath the Tree because it played every once or twice on my local radio station. It’s upbeat yet it has just a sliver of sadness intermixed with the drumbeats, trumpets, and saxophone in the background. If anyone can navigate through a variety of feelings it’s Clarkson, making a song about once being alone on Christmas to now having someone to share the holiday with overwhelmingly emotional.
4. Lindsey Stirling feat. Becky G. – Christmas Come On
YouTube sensation and this past season’s Dancing With the Stars contender Lindsey Stirling, the violinist with over 10 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, is a master of artistic creativity. Stirling’s music videos are both playful and whimsical. She effortlessly dances and twirls her way through a performance without ever missing a tune on her trusty violin. The songs in her catalog are a mix of classical to electronic dance music. Each song is all different and absolutely delightful to listen to with every new album she puts out. When she decided to release her new Christmas album Warmer in the Winter a few months ago, she compiled together a list of familiar Christmas favorites with some original music thrown in. One of my favorite original songs off her album is Christmas Come On featuring singer Becky G. The combination of Becky G’s pop star vocals and Stirling’s beautiful violin playing makes this the one song you’ll find it hard to resist dancing to at a Christmas party. It’s festive and captures the fun side of the holiday season.
5. Sia – Santa’s Coming For Us
Seems like 2017 is the year of brand new Christmas albums, and artist Sia closes out my Top 5 list. The Chandelier singer released her album Everyday is Christmas last month, and I admittedly have not heard any of her Christmas songs on the radio or on any streaming site. Instead, I came across her new song Santa’s Coming For Us after I saw her music video being promoted on her Facebook page. And let me tell you, I’m so glad I spent the time to watch this gem of a music video. It has a ton of familiar celebrities starring in her video, like The Good Place’s Kristen Bell along with her husband Dax Shepard as well as Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin. But aside from the, “Wait, I’ve seen that person on TV somewhere before” reactions, the song itself is genuinely a grand old time. It’s also a good alternative for those overplayed Santa songs, like Santa Claus is Coming to Town or I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
What are some of your favorite Christmas pop songs that you don’t hear enough of?