Ranking my favorite holiday tunes of all time

As our radios and music streaming services keep shoving out Christmas songs, I still haven’t heard my favorite holiday tune yet.

It seems like they have the same playlist of Mariah Carey and cheesy rendition of the classics. As the seasonal sounds echo out of my Bluetooth speaker, I’m left asking myself a couple of questions. How many artists made Christmas albums? And how many versions of one holiday song can be remade?

Then as you calm down and allow the Christmas spirit to take over your soul, the next pair of questions to appear in your brain are who did the best rendition and what is the best Christmas song of all time?

In honor of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” the Best Sellers’ List will rank the top 12 holiday classic tunes of all time. The ironic part is that “The 12 Days of Christmas” didn’t even make my honorable mention. Here is the best of the rest: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (from Neptune’s Daughter), “Silver Bells” (Dean Martin), “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (Band Aid), “It’s Christmas in Hollis” (Run DMC), “Santa Baby” (Madonna), “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” (Annie Lennox & Al Green), “Someday at Christmas” (Stevie Wonder), “Blue Christmas” (Elvis Presley), “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Judy Garland), “Christmas in Dixie” (Alabama), “Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo Song” (Mr. Hanky), “The Christmas Song” (Nat King Cole), “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (Bruce Springsteen), “White Christmas” (Bing Crosby), “Joy to the World” (Whitney Houston), “O Holy Night” (Eric Cartman) and “Last night, I Spent Another Lonely Christmas” (Prince).

12. “A Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney
Released: 1979
Length: 3:45

This song is the definition of cheesy. The first words are “The moon is right.”

If you are kind of depressed, I dare you to listen to this song and not be happy four minutes later. This classic just takes you back to being a child waiting on Christmas to come. I can imagine Santa’s elves on the factory line producing toys and gifts to this song. “A Wonderful Christmastime” plays nonstop on Dec. 23 as the workers finishing checking all the list and making sure the inventory matches.

11. “I Can Hardly Wait For Christmas” – The O’Jays
Released: 1991
Length: 4:45

The classic American R&B group The O’Jays brought their trademark three-part harmony to this soulful holiday song. The lyrics outline how the holiday season’s magic can erase stress, worry and malice. I suggest to all to embrace the words to allow them to have a positive power in your life.

The holidays can be stressful and depressing and feel like an obligation. But this song reminds us that Christmas time is a chance to give straight from the heart. So be filled with love and cheer to observe the true meaning of this time of the year.

And this song makes me want to get in my car and go see some relatives I haven’t visited in years. It has that family reunion feel to it.

10. “Let It Snow” – Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight
Released: 1993
Length: 4:14

This is not your grandmother or grandfather’s “Let It Snow.” This is my generation’s contribution to the holidays and making some September babies. While the original “Let It Snow” is talking about the weather conditions changing to a more ideal scene for Christmas, the 1993 R&B version is about being stuck inside with that special somebody.

It’s romantic and groovy and still manages to be festive. This song is a holiday jam that will be timeless as long as young couples exist.

9. “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Released: 1977
Length: 2:46

The actual musical part of the song is about three minutes. But I suggest to all to enjoy the full video, about six minutes long. There is even a great cover of the song by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly I recommend. But back to the classic singing from two music icons, Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Back in 1977 Bowie was an edgy rocker. He took on the challenge of singing with “Mr. Christmas” himself, Bing Crosby. Crosby made his name in the genre of Christmas music. So when these two polar opposites collaborated for this wonderful piece, it was all the buzz in the music world.

The two vocals bended beautifully to create a Christmas classic by using a timeless piece. This song coats your heart with the holiday spirit.

8. “Mary Did You Know” – Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd
Released: 1996
Length: 3:55

Let’s evaluate another duet. Legendary country music singers Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd tackle this deeply meaningful Christmas piece with compassion and the passion it deserves.

If you believe Christ is the true and real meaning for the season, then this song is vital to your playlist. And the duet Rogers and Judd perform will make you put down the credit card for a second. It will remind you to stop worrying about receiving the perfect gift. And it will even make you reach out to someone you love just to say, “I love you.”

I also enjoy the arrangement on this version of the song. It has a smooth R&B flow. It makes you reflective on the process of our Lord coming to be born while grooving.

7. “Last Christmas” – Wham!
Released: 1984
Length: 6:49

If you truly want to enjoy any song, you must listen to the full version. Wham!’s 1984 Christmas curveball has a nearly seven-minute version you can enjoy. Well the song is enjoyable if you like the music and upbeat tempo. But in a closer look at the lyrics, this is an anthem for those who have suffered a broken heart around this time of the year.

It happens. People get dumped or some folks try to avoid buying a gift by escaping from a relationship. Then there are the cases when a person pretends to like you around the holidays to get something special. Then on Dec. 26, they don’t answer the phone anymore.

Have you ever used somebody as a Christmas crutch? You cried on their shoulders and then when the New Year came, you disappeared? This song is calling all you jerks out.

6. “Celebrate Me Home” – Kenny Loggins
Released: 1977
Length: 4:44

Kenny Loggins is one of our greatest composers, musicians and singers ever. He is the “unofficial” soundtrack of the 1980s. But before he was bringing us so many movie themes, he was the down-home artist pumping out classics like “Celebrate Me Home.” This song could be played anytime of the year but fits with the holiday season.

Why does it belong in December? Have you ever been a college kid coming back home for the holidays? Or were you a soldier in combat dreaming of getting back to the Christmas tree with your family? Sadly, has a loved one passed away this time of year? This song provides comfort and hope that you will see those you cherish once again.

5. “Christmas in Memphis” – Media General Singers
Released: 1985
Length: 3:47

OK, I’m a native Memphian and this song ranks high because it is about my home. But the multiple voices over a pure ’80s tune make my heart tingle with holiday spirit. Just watch the video on YouTube and enjoy seeing our wonderful city in a holiday light. It takes you back to 33 years ago when times were more easygoing.

The singers remind us that Christmas is more about gifts, the lights or artificial things about the holidays. It’s about home. This is my shout out to Michael Porter, Bruce Wermuth, Stephony Smith, Reba Russell, David Mayo, Kelli Bruce and Bill McMath. Thank you for lending your vocals and writing to piece that illustrates a softer and loving side of Memphis, Tennessee.

4. “Carol of the Bells” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Released: 1996
Length: 3:41

Sometimes you don’t even needs lyrics. The best holiday instrumental I have ever heard comes courtesy of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Anyone reading out there, I’ve been waiting for tickets to one of their shows my whole life. THEY ROCK!

And the piece that exemplifies the orchestra’s greatness is “Carol of the Bells.” You’ve heard it in commercials. It has made it way to mainstream on multiple occasions. It takes a holiday classic and pumps some electricity into it. It’s the type of song Beavis and Butt-Head can rock out to while celebrating the holidays.

3. “Give Love On Christmas Day” – The Temptations
Released: 1980
Length: 3:41

This song has several versions that I enjoy. But the five-part harmony of the legendary Temptations is the perfect rendition. I do recommend Johnny Gill’s as well.

But in the Negro community The Temptations are known for “Silent Night.” Thanks to my Mom and countless others, I hate that song. It was overplayed around me in 1986 to the point I made noise nonstop to make sure there would be no silent night.

Then about 10 years ago I discovered there were more songs on that Christmas album by The Temptations. I finally came across their version of “Give Love On Christmas Day” and fell in love. The song is an amazing feel-good piece for the holidays. When The Temptations got a hold of it, it made all the pain in my soul disappear. It was a cure for depression.

2. “This Christmas” – Seal & Donny Hathaway
Released: 2015
Length: 3:53

Back in 1970, Donny Hathaway brought to life one of the best and pure Christmas songs of all time. He set the standard high and, to many, he cannot be topped with the song “This Christmas.” But it took 45 years later when Seal released his version of the classic.

Hathaway’s version is lighter and smoother. Seal took the song and made it his own. Among the many versions of “This Christmas,” Seal brings the most joy to my heart.

This song is the perfect way to observe your surroundings while making plans to be with that special someone. “This Christmas” reminds us to share the holidays and pay attention to the little things. And the arrangement of the song is full of cheer too. It’s the jingle bells.

1. “It’s Christmas All Over the World” – New Edition
Released: 1985
Length: 4:07

Christmas is just not a U.S. American holiday. It is celebrated all over the world. And when we look closer at our neighboring nations and the farther-off lands, Santa Claus has a tough task ahead of him. This wonderful song by New Edition reminds us that it is Christmas all over the world. And in other countries some people just want a warm place to sleep, food to eat and for the bombs to stop. Closer home, we have some U.S. Americans who want a warm meal, roof over their head and for the bullets to stop.

The way Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike and Ralph sing this song with childlike enthusiasm makes it timeless. But it also keeps it with an innocence to get the message across about one of the true meanings of Christmas – peace.

I love the message of world peace, at least around Dec. 25. This song still applies to today.

But what put this song in my No. 1 spot will be the moment on Christmas Eve of 1985. Told to go to bed for Santa’s visit, my Mom and Dad were playing “It’s Christmas All Over the World.” As I eavesdropped from my bedroom door. I heard footsteps coming down the hallway toward me.

I ran and hopped into my bed. I bounced off my mattress so high that I got a glimpse out of my window. It was then I saw a trail of sparkling stars in the sky heading northward. It was then I knew it was Christmas all over the world.

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to thomas.sellers@journalinc.com.