For decades, many of the world's biggest music stars have recorded Christmas albums and singles. These nine songs are the most popular of the genre this December.
If you like to listen to the music on your commute to work, there’s a very good chance you’re getting a healthy dose of Christmas music from your local pop radio stations.
There’s good reason for that: Christmas music is extremely popular around the holidays, a fact made clear by the staying power of some of the great holiday songs of all time. In fact, a look at some of the pop music charts of the moment will show a stream of brand new songs, broken up only by a smattering of decades-old holiday tunes.
To truly understand which Christmas songs are most popular at the moment, perhaps the best place to look is at streaming music downloads. As The Atlantic reported last year, sales of CDs and digital album downloads dropped by double-digits last year while streams on streaming music services increased by 54%.
In order to gauge the most popular songs this year, we took a look at Spotify’s Top 200 charts for last week. The chart tracks streams of individual songs, and shows Americans are treating themselves to a mix of new and old (though mostly old) Christmas tunes.
Album: Christmas (2011)
Spotify Rank: 145
Weekly Streams: 814,000
Known for his classic style, Bublé reminds many listeners of such classic crooners as Bing Crosby, Tony Bennet, and Frank Sinatra. Bublé’s 2011 album Christmas debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts when it debuted in 2011, but found its way to No. 1 by the time Christmas rolled around that year. Since then, his hits from the record have remained staples of many Americans’ holiday listening.
8. White Christmas, Bing Crosby
Album: Merry Christmas (1945)
Spotify Rank: 141
Weekly Streams: 839,000
The oldest recording on the list, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” remains one of the most popular Christmas singles of all time. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records list the Crosby tune as the best-selling single of all time, with more than 50 million sales since its release 70 years ago.
7. White Christmas, Michael Bublé (with Shania Twain)
Album: Christmas (2011)
Spotify Rank: 139
Weekly Streams: 851,000
While Crosby’s version of “White Christmas” is ubiquitous, the song, written by Irving Berlin, has been made into a hit by a number of artists, including Bublé. Other greats to record the song include Sinatra, Perry Como, Elvis Presley, Smoky Robinson, and the Beach Boys.
6. Mary, Did You Know, Pentatonix
Album: That’s Christmas to Me (2014)
Spotify Rank: 120
Weekly Streams: 913,000
Pentatonix, the a cappella quintet who burst on the stage as contestants on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” has earned its place in the upper echelon of Christmas classics with its rendition of “Mary, Did You Know,” a song originally recorded in 1991 by Christian music singer Michael English. The song has since been recorded by artists in a variety of genres, including country music and R&B.
5. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee
Album: Released as single (1958)
Spotify Rank: 118
Weekly Streams: 924,000
Brenda Lee recorded this Nashville-twang-tinged soon-to-be classic when she was just 13 years old. The easily recognizable guitar accompaniment was provided by rockabilly great Grady Martin. Though it took a few years for the song to gain traction, it soon became one of the best-selling Christmas singles of all time.
4. Mistletoe, Justin Bieber
Album: Under the Mistletoe (2011)
Spotify Rank: 112
Weekly Streams: 954,000
One of a few newly written songs on the list, “Mistletoe” soared to No. 11 on the Billboard charts after its debut on Bieber’s Christmas album. The pop/R&B song was an anchor of the album Under the Mistletoe, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.
3. Santa Tell Me, Ariana Grande
Album: Christmas Kisses (2013)
Spotify Rank: 111
Weekly Streams: 958,000
The newest song on the list, “Santa Tell Me” is the hit single from teen R&B sensation Ariana Grande. Grande, something of a force on Twitter, heavily promoted the single, using a hashtag campaign to count down the days til the song’s release. Despite the hype, it only reached No. 42 on the Billboard charts.
2. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Michael Bublé
Album: Christmas (2011)
Spotify Rank: 52
Weekly Streams: 1.5 million
Bublé strikes again. A testament to the popularity of the entire Christmas album, Bublé’s rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” represents his most popular Christmas song of the moment. The song was written back in 1951 by Meredith Wilson, of The Music Man fame. Many others have recorded the song, but perhaps no version is more famous than that by Johnny Mathis.
1. All I Want for Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
Album: Merry Christmas (1994)
Spotify Rank: 27
Weekly Streams: 2.3 million
A truly unavoidable song in the holiday season, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” helped propel the album Merry Christmas to earning platinum certification five times. In fact, it’s proven so popular that Carey has re-recorded it a number of times, first on her second Christmas album and later as a duet for Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe.
Sources: Spotify Top 200 Charts, week of Dec. 10