When it comes to putting together an ultimate Christmas playlist for the holiday season, it can be all too easy to forget about new songs, and to rely only on the classics. And when you've got songs like Mariah's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" or Eartha Kitt's version of "Santa Baby" to croon along to on repeat, who can really blame you? But the truth is you'd be missing out on a lot of really great music if you were to do that. And all the new Christmas songs of 2016 definitely prove that to be the case.
So far, 2016 is offering an eclectic mix of Christmas hits, with jaw dropping a-cappella feats, old school treats, R&B jams and a lot of country (seriously, so much of it) being released alongside some startlingly traditional approaches to some classic tunes. Some of these songs might make you want to dance, others might make you want to cry and some might just make you want to drink an entire punch bowl of egg nog and take a nap besides your Christmas tree. But all of them are full of all of some serious festive magic.
In order to help with the easy curation of a perfect Yuletide playlist, the following Christmas songs of 2016 are all ranked in accordance to just how much of that special, holiday magic they sprinkle whilst you listen to them:
22. Neil Diamond - "Christmas Medley"
If you're desperately searching for a holiday album sure to please the grandparents over Christmas dinner, then Diamond is most certainly the man to call upon, as "Christmas Medley" deftly proves.
21. Josh Groban – "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
Groban puts his classical crooner expertise to good use on this traditional rendition of the Yuletide classic. It's full of the familiar cosiness of the original with a slight contemporary angle to it.
20. Amy Grant – "Tennessee Christmas"
This easy going, country tribute to enjoying Yuletide festivities in whatever place you happen to call home ia ideal listening for anyone desperately needing a chill out tune during the stress of the season.
19. Chris Young - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
Probably one of the ultimate country cover versions of this song as you're ever likely to hear. If you love country music then you'll absolutely adore this.
18. Jackie Evancho - "Christmas Waltz"
The ridiculously talented classical singer (and America's Got Talent alum) has precisely the sort of angelic voice that lends itself perfectly to Christmas songs. Taken from her album, Someday At Christmas, this track is a little slice of joy.
17. R Kelly – "It's Christmas Day"
R Kelly is full of festive cheer on his new album 12 Nights Of Christmas, and this track nestles that Yuletide celebration in a big, smooth plume of R&B cool.
16. Jordan Smith - "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch"
By far the best song on Tis The Season, the first holiday album by The Voice winner, Smith's rendition of the classic holiday song is full of personality and wit along with his ever flawless and powerful vocal style.
15. Katie Melua - "Little Swallow"
This festive classic is given a contemporary and haunting overhaul by British singer-songwriter Melua, taken from her album In Winter.
14. Sarah McLachlan, "The Christmas Song"
Basically the musical equivalent of a glass of mulled wine and a thick blanket on a chilly, Christmas night, McLachlan's lulling version of this holiday staple is like warm cookies for the soul.
13. Jennifer Nettles - "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Nettles infuses this country cover with all of the compelling vocal power for which she's known. As a result, this song is full of festive optimism and stirring glee.
12. Brett Eldridge feat. Megan Trainor - "Baby It's Cold Outside"
Regardless of how you may feel towards this song, there's no denying that Eldridge and Trainor's voices make for a compelling, complimentary and slick duet.
11. Laira Daigle - "White Christmas"
Likely the best rendition of this holiday classic that you'll hear this Christmas, Daigle's arrangement is distinctly cool and full of a laid back, jazz infused merriment.
10. Loretta Lynn - "Country Christmas"
As an emminent musical legend, Lynn brings some boot slapping, good time country fun to the holidays with her album, White Christmas Blue. And "Country Christmas" is full of all the high energy and glee of the season.
9. Kylie Minogue – "At Christmas"
All hail the eternal pop goddess charms of Kylie Minogue and may she reign forever glorious. Because as "At Christmas" proves, there's a time and a place for nuanced and tempered, and the festive season simply isn't it. Ms. Minogue has gone big with her music this festive season and I salute her for it.
8. JJ Hellar - "Christmas Is Here"
Having said all of that, there's still definitely a place for sweetness, love and festive magic in a holiday song, and that's exactly what Hellar's song (taken from the album Unto Us) delivers in huge quantities.
7. Straight No Chaser – "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
I'm just going to keep this one simple: Yes to everything that this song is serving up. Every single part of it. It's total a-capella perfection.
6. Kacey Musgraves - "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas"
Taken from the album, A Very Kacey Christmas (which is an absolute, pure joy from start to finish), this exuberant rendition of the quirky Gayla Peevey classic is merriment at it's finest.
5. Leslie Odom Jr. - "I'll Be Home For Christmas"
Straight out of Broadway, the Hamilton star has a must-hear holiday album by the name of Simply Christmas, where this dreamy, slice of festive heaven can be heard. It's beyond lush, you guys.
4. Pentatonix – "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
Plug in some headphones and indulge in this song for a moment because by doing so it's basically just like having the World's best a-cappella Christmas choir performing a solo show just for you. Their ludicrously astounding vocal feats on this song are, as ever, completely jaw dropping.
3. The Killers - "I'll Be Home For Christmas"
Starting with lead singer Brandon Flowers delivering a spoken word story about his family moving from Henderson, Nevada to Payson, Utahn, this sweet cover pays tribute to Ned Humphrey Hansen — Flowers' fourth grade science teacher. To add to the overall touching loveliness of the song, Hansen also happens to sing along with Flowers on the track. And now I'm totally crying.
2. She & Him - "Happy Holiday"
Enjoying Christmas without the saccarine, quaint loveliness of She & Him is like enjoying a Christmas cookie without the frosting, you guys. And their new festive album, Christmas Party (of which "Happy Holiday" is one of many terrific tracks), is basically a big bowl of musical frosting that I just want to lick clean.
1. Jane Lynch - "Swingin' Little Christmas Time"
Featuring the vocal talents of Kate Flannery (Meredith from The Office, who was also part of Lynch's cabaret act, See Jane Sing) and Tim Davis (a vocal arranger for Glee), Lynch's entire Christmas album (of the same name) is an absolute old school, uproarious delight.
That's it, now I officially need to listen to "Swingin' Christmas Time" and "Happy Holiday" on repeat, do some online Christmas shopping and eat a candy cane like right now. Happy listening, out there.
Images: KitschTone Records;