The best, the worst and the most underrated Christmas songs


It’s the most wonderful time of the year for music.

I enjoy hearing Christmas songs on the radio and singing Christmas hymns in church. Some of the best music we have has to do with the holiday season.

Unfortunately, it’s produced some of the worst, too.

Below is my list of Top 10, Bottom 5, and 5 Underrated Christmas songs. Vote on your favorite Christmas song at the bottom of the story.

Top 10

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

The Bing Crosby version based on the classic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has profound meaning.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

Again, the one by Bing Crosby’s rich Irish baritone, makes me think of soldiers, and missionaries, overseas who long to be home during the holidays. It also reminds me of families Skyping with their missionaries on Christmas Day.

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Whenever I hear this song, originally released by Brenda Lee in 1958, I can’t help but think of Kevin in “Home Alone” bamboozling the Wet Bandits, pretending to dance with Michael Jordan.

“Silent Night”

Especially when sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, this hymn is powerful.

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Again, I prefer the Bing Crosby version and I love the final line, “The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night; He will bring us goodness and light.”

“O Holy Night”

Josh Groban knocks this ethereal Christmas classic out of the park.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Not necessarily a Mariah Carey fan, but this uptempo song featuring bell chimes that she co-wrote is a lively toe-tapper.

“Where Are You Christmas?”

The theme song from the movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a powerful ballad by Faith Hill, juxtaposed with images of Jim Carrey as The Grinch saying, “Nice kid… baaaad judge of character.”

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”

The live version by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is a personal favorite. I always wonder if band member Clarence Clemons ever got a new saxophone.

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Darlene Love’s version, released in the early 1960s, is another Christmas song with a catchy beat. Perfect to be playing in the background at a Christmas party.

Underrated 5

“Grown-Up Christmas List”

This Amy Grant song is about an adult’s visit with Santa Claus. Instead of asking for materialistic things, the narrator asks for peace on Earth.

“Mele Kalikimaka”

This is the perfect ode to Christmas in Hawaii, especially if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the Aloha State on Dec. 25.

“Mary Did You Know?”

This is a thought-provoking song that lets you consider Mary’s point of view about the Savior’s birth.

“The Christmas Shoes”

This song relates the way the narrator undergoes a change of heart and a paradigm shift about Christmas thanks to a beleaguered young boy standing in a long line at a store on Christmas Eve.


The theme song from the movie “The Polar Express” by Josh Groban reminds us about childlike hope and the power of believing.

Bottom 5

“Santa Baby”

A young woman in one of my student wards performed this, with provocative dancing, during a Christmas program and I nearly upchucked my dinner.

“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”

When I was a kid I liked this song. But when you really pay attention to the lyrics, it’s a song about violence, drinking and general ambivalence toward the elderly. Grandma deserved better.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

I know BandAid meant well, but the lyrics are vapid and condescending. Let’s help the poor in Africa, not patronize them.

“Last Christmas”

When this Christmas bubble gum song by Wham! comes on the radio, I change the station within three notes. This tune should be banned from the airwaves. Nothing says “Christmas spirit” like a spiteful love triangle.

“Wonderful Christmastime”

If I ever hear this song again, I just might puncture my eardrums with a pitch fork. Paul McCartney had a lot of great hits but this is one of his spectacular misses. Nobody listening to this song could possibly be “simply having a wonderful Christmastime.” More like a “torturous” Christmastime.

What is your favorite holiday song? Vote below.


Jeff Call has covered BYU sports since 1993, including the past 16 years for the Deseret News. He, his wife and six sons live in Cedar Hills.

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