America's Top 40: Christmas

I promised, earlier in the week, that I was going to do a follow-up to my Top Twelve Days of Christmas Specials and List my favorite Christmas songs. I don't really have 40 but I have been working to narrow down the list to 10-12 for several days now and I just can't get there so I am going to go with my Top 14 Christmas Songs...

First the ground rules: All the songs are going to be Christmas songs. I'm as PC as the next guy but I wanted to pick my favorite holiday songs, I would. I celebrate Christmas, though, and I don't think Adam Sandler's, Hanukkah Song, would've broken the top 15, anyway, so I am going to stick with saying, "Merry Christmas". Note: I tried very, very hard to find some way to make the Counting Crow's, A Long December, a Christmas song but couldn't find even a remote reference to anything to do with the Winter Holiday so I had to leave it out which is a real shame because I love that tune.

Other ground rules include that we are not really judging the song, itself, but rather the specific performance of a song. Many of the entries are classic tunes that many artists have covered over the years and I am rating them on a single recorded version. In addition, to get the list down to a reasonable size, I had to eliminate songs that where written for a special Christmas program. Although many of the works have been included in Holiday TV shows or movies so this will eliminate some great classics like I'm Mister Heat Miser, Put One Foot in Front of the Other, and Christmastime Is Here or any of the other pieces composed by the great jazz musician, Vince Guaraldi.

Most of these songs also make this list of The Pop Top 100 Christmas Songs and you can see more detail and more fun stuff about this list at my Squidoo Lens: The Top 14 Pop Christmas Song Performances:

14. Wonderful Christmas Time- Paul McCartney (1979)- John Lennon was right when he said since McCartney went solo all that he does is silly love songs. That is, exactly, what this is but it made the list and Lennon's, Happy Christmas (War Is Over) didn't... What's wrong with that?

13. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)- U2 (1987)- This song was originally done by Darlene Love on the 1963 Album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and she provided backing vocals when U2 recorded it for the compilation album A Very Special Christmas. I really never knew it was Bono singing but, when I hear it, I always find myself singing along in a baritone voice... Christmas... Christmas...

12. Sleigh Ride- Ella Fitgerald (1960)- This is the first of a few classic Christmas songs that I could of pick one of many performances as over 65 artist have recorded it including the Spice Girls, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Muppets and Clay Aiken. I choose this version because it has gained popularity recently by being featured in the Will Ferrell, soon to be Holiday classic, Elf, and my dad always like Ella.

11. Merry Christmas Baby- Bruce Springsteen (1987)- Originally a Beach Boys release, the more popular Springsteen version was recorded live at an earlier Jersey Holiday Concert and also featured on the A Very Special Christmas album. The boss does it better than the even more popular, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which I have mentioned before, no grown man should be recording.

10. It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas- Johnny Mathis (1986)- Written in 1951, I thought Mathis did his version way before '86 as I thought I remember hearing it as a kid. My mom loved Johnny Mathis and the Andrew Sisters- who also did this song and I could have just as easily included here but Johnny has an awesome voice. I do remember, however, singing this song and The Holly and the Ivory in a Junior High Choir Competition. I wonder, what ever happened to Ms. Davis?

9. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree- Brenda Lee (1958)- I find it interesting that over 30 artists have recorded this song but, still, the most air-play goes to this original. I remember doing a grade school program to this one! There are some really cool guitar licks in this song.

8. The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole (1946)- Written by Mel Torme, Cole recorded the tune four times between '46 and '61. It has been covered by other artists over 100 times-- none of them me, but it is my favorite classic.

7. Do They Know It's Christmas?- Band Aid (1984)- I think my dad camped out at a record store to get this for me for Christmas. Written by Bob Geldof the song was recorded by 40-some-odd 80s superstars on November 24, 1984 and released by Band Aid four-days later to raise money for the famine in Ethiopia.

6. Christmas Is A Time to Say I Love You- Billy Squire (1982)- MTV was young and rock singer Billy Squier was at his peak of popularity when this cheery holiday song was filmed as sort of an office party singalong. It is just plain fun.

5. Christmas Wrapping- The Waitresses (1981)- One of the best bass lines-- not only in a Christmas song, but in any song. Arguably, the obscure, Kent, Ohio, punk band's biggest hit, along with I Know What Boys Like and Square Pegs the theme song to the TV series of the same name starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker.

4. 2000 Miles- The Pretenders (1983)- This dark, seasonal song was released as a B-side to "Middle of the Road" and was a major hit in the UK. Although Crissie Hynde may be one of the least attractive women in music, she has a beautiful voice that resonates straight to your soul in this song.

3. All I Want for Christmas is You- Mariah Carey (1994)- You may think it a bit odd, with all of the rock-type music in my top-15, that I would include a Mariah Carey tune, consider that this original is the diva's most successful song worldwide and it is in the top ten most downloaded ring-tones of all time. I just like it because it reminds me of the music that the old Motown girl groups used to do.

2. Easier Said Than Done- Jon Anderson (1985)- This was the first and only single released from Yes front-man, Jon Anderson's solo Christmas album, Three Ships. It got a little air-time in the late 80s, but I haven't heard it in years and I have worn out my LP.

1. Celebrate Me Home- Kenny Loggins (1976)-
Celebrate Me Home was on Kenny Loggins' debut solo album of the same name. Although not released as a single, it evolved into one of Loggins' better-known songs, especially as it became a popular staple of radio stations' play-lists during the holiday season. I don't know exactly why, but when I hear this song and I am alone, it touches me in a way that I have a heard time holding back my emotions. That is why I rank it as number one.

Have a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday. Read this. Buy T-shirts. Peace.

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