Christmas Top 10s: Secular Christmas Carols

The “Christmas Top 10s” series is a subjective look at Christmas carols, hymns, and movies that accompany the holiday that everyone loves dearly. The things that pop-culture has given us in this celebration in terms of music, filmmaking, and art is awesome, so why ignore it? Instead, let’s have some fun with this series every Friday of December 2018 as we anticipate Christmas Day.

There is so much that I love about Christmas, and if I had to choose my favorite thing about Christmas apart from the Gospel aspect of the Advent, it would absolutely be the caroling! I love music and I enjoy singing, so when Christmas arrives, you can bet on me singing classic tunes that we all know and love.

As a person who loves caroling, I thought the best way to start the Christmas Top 10s series was to talk about the secular Christmas carols that I love to listen to each year during the Holidays! Even though many of these songs don’t even reference the birth of Jesus, we still have to recognize the fact that they are good fun and that they are not harmful to the overall celebration of the Advent–at least in my opinion.

This list was developed through long hours of meticulous distractions, an analytical lack of focus, and an impressive amount of mind-wandering. So, without further ado, let’s kick off the series with my personal list of favorite secular Christmas carols.

(Please keep in mind that all of this list–and all future ones–will be completely subjective and is made with intention with having some good fun!)

Dishonorable Mentions

  • Grown-Up Christmas List — Too blasphemous. (It’s literally a prayer to Santa).
  • Last Christmas by Anyone Ever — It’s too cheesy for my taste.
  • Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney — This song had so much potential, but it’s poorly edited and the synthesizers are annoying.
  • The Christmas Shoes by Newsong — Don’t. Even. Get. Me. Started.
  • All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey — Mariah Carey.

Honorable Mentions

  • A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives — A good holly jolly song, but not great!
  • Do They Know It’s Christmastime? by Band Aid — It’s an awesome song, and I love the harmonies and the message, but I just can’t get past the hypocrisy of the people whole sung it, multi-millionaire celebrities who never once did anything to help starving children anywhere.
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by The Jackson 5 — It’s a hilarious classic, but there’s one song that I think is even funnier than this one.

The Top 10

10. Christmas Time Is Here To Stay! by Bing Crosby (1971)

What better way to start the list then to include the king of Christmas music: Bing Crosby! The song celebrates the joyfulness of the season and the customs that western society has during the Christmas season, customs and traditions that I really do enjoy. Crosby is at his usual charm and adds to the playful melody making it an easy-going listen.

To me, this song is the objective standard of what makes a Christmas song good, in a sense that all Christmas songs that aspire to be good have to meet or exceed this song in some way. The melody is catchy, the lyrics are full of holiday spirit, and the listening experience always leaves you with a smile.

9. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love (1963)

I love 1960s music, so this song is definitely in my style. It’s such an awesome song to listen to and is a perfect background song for a Christmas party too. What sells this song is Darlene Love’s vocals and the catchy 1960s style melody. Many artists have tried to cover this catchy song, but I honestly think that the original will always be best.

8. Thank God It’s Christmas by Queen (1984)

It’s a Christmas song by Queen… the greatest band of all time. Do I need to say more?

In all seriousness though, I love the song, and Freddie Mercury’s vocals are just awesome. The song is just classic Queen with some Christmas in there, and I relate so much with the words of the song: thank God it’s Christmas! It’s the season we look forward to every year and the song celebrates the arrival of the holiday season we’ve all been waiting for.

7. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Andrea Bocelli (2009)

I’ve heard so many covers of this song, but none of them can compare to the Andrea Bocelli version. Bocelli is not only a great vocalist, but he is also a charming performer, and he certainly brought that charm into this rendition of the Christmas classic. There’s this certain magic in his version that I can’t explain. Not only that, but the orchestra is golden and the kids for the background vocals are just adorable.

6. Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano (1970)

Despite what many people think, I did not put Feliz Navidad in my list because of the musical composition or some kind of inherent charm it has. Objectively speaking, it’s one of the worst Christmas songs ever written. So why did I put this on my list? Because of the many awesome memories I associate this song with!

The laughs I’ve had with some of my friends with this song and the amount of car rides I’ve had in which we would all sing it loud and off-key is enough for it to be on my top 10 and my favorites. It’s a catchy and fun song to sing along to with a crowd.

5. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy (1979)

I don’t care what anyone says, this song is so hilarious! The concept is hysterical: Grandma getting run over by one of Santa’s reindeers after drinking too much eggnog… yea! The best part of the song is when we find out that Grandpa is “taking it so well” by “drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel.” I will grant that I am incredibly weird for enjoying this song and ranking it above other classics, but hey: it’s my list.

4. Somewhere in My Memory by John Williams (1990)

In the same way that Andrei Bocelli brought a musical magic to Santa Claus is Coming Town, John Williams brought in an even greater magic to an original song for the Home Alone movie. Leave it to the composer of Star Wars and Jaws to give us an incredible–though short–song that reminds us to love the precious moments of Christmas and to not take them for granted. This orchestral original will always be a classic in my eyes.

3. White Christmas by The Drifters (1956)

I really do love the original Bing Crosby rendition of White Christmas, and the movie too… but The Drifter’s cover is just so fun! While Crosby’s cover was meant to be more of a laid-back listening experience, The Drifters’ cover wants you to sing along and have a good laugh. The harmonies are really nice and there’s nothing like a 1950s style boy-band to lift you up with Christmas spirit, and of course, who can forget the “Well ay-ay-ay-I’m dreaming of a way-y-y-y-yt Christma-a-as!!” Classic.

2. Happy X-Mas (War is Over) by John Lennon (1971)

I have never been, nor ever will be, a fan of hippies, and I actually have a serious disrespect for John Lennon, but… I just can’t deny how amazing this song is! I honestly don’t care how political, preachy and disrespectful it is. I can get past it.

This one of the first songs in which an artist decided that a Christmas song can be serious and yet enjoyable, not to mention the fact that the song is bold and daring. From a musical standpoint, it’s practically flawless. From the steel-stringed guitar to the children’s choir, the song is simple, unforgettable and absolutely awesome.

1. Have Yourself a Merry Christmas by Diana Krall (2005)

I remember first hearing this song and just being enchanted by the melody and Diana Krall’s vocals, and for the past five years, it remains as my absolute favorite secular Christmas carol.

I have always loved jazz, but this rendition gave it a charm that other artists haven’t been able to have with this song in my opinion. Krall adds a particular romance and charm to it, and I honestly do hope to slow dance to this song one day with my future wife.

That’s my personal top 10 list of favorite secular Christmas carols! If you have any favorites you want to share, feel free to comment or share it with us. Hope that all who read this are looking forward to the next one: movies!

I’m doing this list not only with an intention of having fun, but I do believe that Christmas is a time for great celebration, and I genuinely think that one of the ways we can glorify God is by sharing in the joy of Christmas, which carols are most definitely capable of doing! Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays!

Soli Deo Gloria.


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