Christmas movies can have a huge impact on pop culture. Entire generations create Holiday traditions around movies, be it watching It's A Wonderful Life with your family or gushing over Love Actually with your best friends. Of course, Christmas movies only go so far. To have a real pop culture holiday, you need Christmas music, too. If you don't listen to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" at least once in December, did Christmas even happen? This is why the greatest Christmas movies are ones that also feature amazing Christmas songs. So, when you talk about the best Christmas movie soundtracks, you have to talk about Meet Me In St. Louis.
Meet Me In St. Louis is the best Christmas movie soundtrack for one very specific reason: "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Released in 1944 from director Vincente Minnelli, Meet Me In St. Louis stars Judy Garland as hopeless romantic Esther Smith, and marks the birth of the now Christmas classic "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." To be clear: "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" was written specifically for Meet Me In St. Louis, not brought into the film as a Christmas tune, making it one of the few Christmas classics that started as an original song for film.
Written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is the only Christmas song on the Meet Me In St. Louis soundtrack, which, I admit, isn't ideal. But, the song is such a classic, and Garland's voice is so iconic, it eclipses all over Christmas movie soundtracks easily. It's also go a great story behind it, making it the perfect Christmas movie soundtrack song.
The song occurs in a melancholy moment in the musical. As such, the original version from Martin and Blaine had pretty depressing lyrics (or even more depressing). Garland and producers of the film requested an alternate, slightly more upbeat version. "The original version was so lugubrious that Judy Garland refused to sing it," Martin said in an interview with NPR's Fresh Air in 2006. The finished product still isn't exactly all that upbeat, and over 10 years after the film's release, Frank Sinatra requested a lyric change from Martin when he recorded his own interpretation. Now, over 60 years later, music stars are still covering the song every year.
Meet Me In St. Louis is my favorite Christmas movie, and that is in no small part thanks to Garland's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." It's a perfect Christmas song, which makes Meet Me In St. Louis the best Christmas movie soundtrack.