The holiday music royalty roster

As we approach the winter holiday season, take a look at the icons of Christmas music.

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Mariah Carey is well known as the ‘Queen of Christmas’ for her song “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” But are there other artists who deserve the title as well? In fact, there is a whole roster of ‘holiday music royalty’ that has been making the season bright for decades.

Since 1994 when her holiday hit, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” began its tradition of chart-topping during the winter season, Mariah Cary has unofficially been dubbed the ‘Queen of Christmas.’ However, every year there are tons of artists putting out new, holiday-themed music and quite a few have earned themselves a place on the ‘holiday music royalty’ roster. 

80 years ago, music icon Bing Crosby released “White Christmas” which quickly became one of the most successful songs in the history of recorded music. The song rang true for many listeners during World War II and sat at number one on the charts for 11 weeks along with winning an Oscar for best original song in 1943. “White Christmas” launched the Christmas music genre as we know it today and is still a beloved classic as it draws nearer to its 100th birthday. Even beyond his clear claim to being a King of Christmas, Crosby could also be considered ‘Father Christmas Music.’

Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is another timeless Christmas song, having sold over 25 million copies since its release in 1958. This song was written as a sock-hop, intended to get people at holiday parties to take off their shoes and dance around. Even now it still serves its purpose as you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t danced around the tree to this bop. Although it didn’t top charts in the year it was released, by the 60s it was living in the top 100 songs and in 2017 it made a reappearance by hitting number nine in the UK after a reissue.

‘The King’ Elvis Presley expanded his moniker to ‘The King of Christmas’ with his 1964 recording of “Blue Christmas.” Presley’s sultry voice brought this heart-wrenching song of loneliness and love to life and clearly, listeners were moved because his rendition was in the top 100 list around the world. 

Since the beginning of the 2010s, multiple pop artists have taken it upon themselves to make their mark on holiday music. Arianna Grande, Michael Bublé, and Meghan Trainor have all become common voices to hear throughout winter and it will be interesting to see who leaves a strong enough mark to be a voice of the holidays for future generations.”

Released in 1970, the Jackson 5 rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” quickly became the most popular version of the song. This song gave the group a hit single in New Zealand as well as racking in serious money for Tommie Connor, the song’s lyricist. The Motown feel of the song made it the perfect song for the group to perform live, in television broadcasts, or even acapella. The young ages of the Jackson family during the time of the release give us wonderful contenders for princes and princesses of holiday music. 

Covered by numerous artists over the years, “Last Christmas” by Wham! has a similar energy to “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” It’s more about love than the actual season itself, however, that hasn’t stopped it from being a beloved hit to listen to during the holidays. Ironically, despite being a best-selling song for years, it wasn’t until 2021 that “Last Christmas” actually reached number one on the singles chart. However, due to the fact that you had to have been living under a rock to not be familiar with this song, and since it’s the first option on Spotify when you type ‘la,’ Wham! seems to be a good contender for holiday music royalty.

As mentioned, Mariah Carey holds the ‘Queen of Christmas’ title due to her 90s hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You” but she also wrote the 2000s hit “Where Are You Christmas” performed by Faith Hill. The song reached number ten on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and as of 2019, it had reached 1,002,000 digital sales and downloads. Further, the use of the song in the live-action “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by protagonist Cindy Lou hints at “Where Are You Christmas” becoming a Christmas classic in the future. Whether this adds Faith Hill to the list of Christmas music queens or just gives credence to Mariah Carey’s claim is up to you. 

Since the beginning of the 2010s, multiple pop artists have taken it upon themselves to make their mark on holiday music. Arianna Grande, Michael Bublé, and Meghan Trainor have all become common voices to hear throughout winter and it will be interesting to see who leaves a strong enough mark to be a voice of the holidays for future generations. And though my bias prevented me from adding them to this list, anyone looking for some good vibes around the holiday should go check out all of the Pentatonix Christmas albums.