10 Classic Songs of Christmas Past: A Seasonal Soundtrack

At this wondrous time of the year, many of us worldwide become nostalgic about our youth when we looked forward to everything Santa would deliver underneath our respective Christmas trees. If you were like me, I’d leave cookies out on my living room table next to the wood stove and getting up every couple of hours to see if I could sneak a peek at old Saint Nick, but to no avail I would never catch a glimpse of the jolly one.

Alas, it wasn’t until years later that I was told there wasn’t a Santa Claus. I already had a clue that there wasn’t one due to the fact Santa’s handwriting resembled my mother’s and father’s cursive styles. Nonetheless, the joy of Christmas during my youth was inescapable. There were three main reasons why Christmas was my favorite time of the year. First, the anticipation of presents I was going to receive. Second, the amount of time my family would spend together eating good food and laughing at one another. Last, but not least, the classic music that we would listen to days leading up to Christmas and a couple of days after.

There is something special when you hear the legendary, incomparable vocals of The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson among many others singing your favorite holiday tunes. Christmas music gives the holiday a deeper meaning especially if you’re an aficionado of high quality recordings. Below are my top 10 Christmas offerings that still bring my soul indescribable joy.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by The Jackson 5

The first time I heard this record, Michael Jackson’s youthful exuberance sent me into a frenzy as an 8 year old child. His vocals were so infectious that I was captured by not only him, but the musical accompaniment. This whole album is a classic, but this song in particular still holds a special place in my heart during this time of year.

“Winter Wonderland” by Aretha Franklin

This record from a vocal standpoint is absolutely flawless and that can be said for every recording Aretha Franklin has ever produced, but this classic holiday tune makes you want winter to last all year round. It goes without saying that every family worldwide must play this recording because of its stature and it’s one of the many reasons why the ‘Queen of Soul’ is the greatest female vocalist of all-time.

“Do You Hear What I Hear/The Little Drummer Boy” by Vanessa Williams

Perhaps, this Christmas album (Star Bright) may be some of Williams’ best work as a singer. Her vocal on this record shows the range she possesses and rarely showed on her other mainstream pop/R&B albums.

“Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder

It would be almost criminal not to have Stevie Wonder on this top 10 list. This recording alone puts me in a better mood no matter what time of the year it is. Wonder’s melisma singing technique was on full display along with the melodies hits the right spot in my soul. Simply put, it doesn’t get any better than having Stevie Wonder sing another all-time Christmas classic.

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole

This song was recorded in 1946 and close to 65 years later the colossal recording still resonates with the people of all ages and cultures. Thus proving how epic Cole’s vocal prowess was during the recording of this tune. Recently, Black Thought of The Roots performed this song live on the Jimmy Fallon Show paying tribute to the legend. Cole’s rich, soulful delivery brings a certain authenticity to it that takes me back to the first time I heard the song close to 20 years ago.

“Sleigh Ride” by TLC

Recorded during the height of the group’s success in 1992, this song is one of the many that make me want to get up and dance whenever I hear it on the radio or on TV during the Christmas season. The light hearted melody, vocals and rap delivered a potent mix that wasn’t heard before by a female trio. Close to 20 years later, their recording is a must on anytime holiday season playlist.

“Let It Snow” by Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight

Coming off an incredible year where each had #1 Singles with “End of the Road” and “One Last Cry” they joined forces to produce an original 10 track holiday masterpiece. This song was the first release and it was an immediate hit across the board. The combination of these vocal powerhouses produced an ineffable contribution to the catalog of great Christmas albums.

“Give Love on Christmas Day” by Johnny Gill

Riding the wave of unfathomable solo success, Gill delivered a classic recording of a Jackson 5 original in the winter of 1991. This recording showed how capable Gill was of giving a mainstream audience a fusion of old soul and R&B. It is one of my top five selections of songs Gill has sung in his career. As soon as you hear the first note, it feels like Christmas all over again.

And finally, “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway and “Silent Night” by The Temptations are two songs that are firmly ingrained within the fabric of my musical upbringing. There are no words needed to describe these two holiday recordings, but two words do come to mind, epic and iconic.

Donny Hathaway – “This Christmas”:

The Temptations – “Silent Night”:

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