You have to take the bad with the good, right?  Well, by that same token, you have to take the good with the bad.  So here are my ten BEST Christmas songs.  Honorable mention goes to “Don’t Be A Jerk (It’s Christmas)” by Spongebob Squarepants.  It’s goofy and silly, but it always puts a smile on my face.  Sadly, it’s not good enough to make it into the top ten.

I should preface by saying most of these I love because of nostalgic, and some of them I can’t logically explain why I enjoy them.  For example…

#10 – “Christmas In Hollis” by Run DMC
This one is always baffling when it comes on the radio at work, and I can’t help but laugh at the audacity of it.  But it’s a good kind of laughter, because it’s the kind of clever, goofy fun only Run DMC is capable of.  What I find so delightful is that it’s EXACTLY what Run DMC would sound like if they did a Christmas song, down to the rhymes and the beat.  How can you mock something that doesn’t even take itself seriously?

#9 – “Feliz Navidad” by Sesame Street
Nostalgia does not get much more perfect than Sesame Street, which is where I first heard this song during one of their Christmas specials.  Some others get sick of this song, and I don’t blame them, but I’m just not one of them.  This is one of the few that genuinely takes me back to my childhood.

#8 – “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
Many others have tried to tackle this song, but nobody did it better than Bing.  His smooth vocal completely sells it, and it’s another one that never gets old.

#7 – “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley
This song was MADE for Elvis.  The man was at his best when he was singing about bluesy heartbreak, and being away from your baby on Christmas doesn’t get anymore melancholy.  Even the composition itself fits his style like a glove.  It’s bittersweet, but it has a groove to it only Elvis could bring.

#6 – “Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon
People weigh between Lennon and McCartney all the time, and this song is a serious point in Lennon’s favor.  Paul’s “Wonderful Christmas Time” sounded dull, mercenary, and perfunctory.  This song seemed to come from a genuine place with Lennon, and has an effortless joy to it.

#5 – “Holiday Season” by Andy Williams
This is one you don’t hear very often and think is really underrated.  It’s a song so good it gives standards done by the Rat Pack a run for their money, and Andy Williams just sounds so smooth on it.  One of the best big band Christmas songs ever.

#4 – “Toyland” by Doris Day
This song has always had an eerie, bittersweet quality to it that I always find haunting.  Depending on the arrangement or the singer, it can almost sound like a dirge.  The metaphor of growing older is not easily lost on the listener, and around Christmas most of all it makes you long for better days gone by.  “Once you pass its borders/You can never return again…”

#3 – “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
It was done first by Eartha, and no one did it better.  Yea, the concept of the song is weird, with the singer basically whoring themselves to Santa for fantastic presents.  But that doesn’t matter because the good Ms. Kitt sells it by being sly, coy, stylish, but still sexy.  She did it with a wink and a nod, which later versions haven’t been able to match.  It’s my personal favorite Christmas song, but I admit there are two better ones.

#2 – “Chestnuts Roasting” by Nat King Cole
A big problem with modern Christmas music (and a lot of music in general) is the bombast they add to the performances and the production.  We’re used to Christina Aguilera or Celine Dion belting out epic notes in our ears.  Meanwhile understated, mellow singers like Nat King Cole sell the warmth and imagery a song like this is supposed to convey.  It creates a pleasant image of home and family, which is what really matters during the holidays.  When he offers the “simple phrase” at the end of the song, it sounds effortless and straight from the heart.

#1 – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland
This song usually pops up at the end of every Christmas special, and there’s a reason: it may very well be the perfect Christmas song.  It starts simple, swells with emotion by the middle, and ends with a tender Christmas wish.  And who better to sing that then Judy Garland?  No matter which song she sings, I love listening to her voice because you can hear all the pain and heartbreak this woman went through in her life in her vocal, and it makes the mere wish for a happy Christmas hit you that much harder.  So I’ll leave you with this; the perfect Christmas wish.