Best Christmas Party Songs

Rachel Chipp

Christmas in July is the perfect time to start planning the countdown to the real thing - and who really needs an excuse to start getting excited about Christmas?! In this article, we look at the history and little-known trivia behind the best Christmas songs of all time that form the perfect playlist to create a fun, festive atmosphere at your Christmas party.

All I Want For Christmas is You - Mariah Carey

After years of repetition of the same Christmas classics being played on rotation at Christmas parties, this uptempo number was a welcome breath of fresh air when it burst onto the scene in 1994 and it still sounds just as fresh today. It is the most modern song to have made it onto Christmas party song lists, yet it has entrenched itself to become a classic inclusion and is one of the biggest-selling singles of all time. This video to the song was directed by Mariah Carey herself and features her then-husband, Tommy Mottola, as Santa.

Last Christmas - Wham!

While the lyrics in this song lament a lost love, there is a romantic tone to George Michael’s vocals that made it a great accompaniment to the mistletoe at Christmas parties.

‘Last Christmas’ was on course for a surefire Christmas number one when it was first released. Then, almost out of nowhere, ‘Band Aid’ was the word on everyone’s lips, so Wham! were pipped to the post. George Michael was one of the singers performing on Band Aid’s track so technically he did reach Christmas number one that week. In addition, he generously gave all money made from sales of ‘Last Christmas’ to the Band Aid cause.

Do They Know It’s Christmas? - Band Aid

The supergroup of singing legends recorded this philanthropic track in 24 hours straight, which was no mean feat considering that there were almost 40 singers for Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to rally to the studio at short notice. Boy George was a very last minute addition who Bob Geldof realised at the eleventh hour was the essential final piece of the puzzle.

Boy George had played a gig in Madison Square Garden the night before and was asleep in his New York hotel when he got a call from Bob Geldof at 3am requesting him to take part in the recording in London that same day! He duly booked himself straight onto a Concorde, at his own expense, and became one of the most distinctive voices on the recording of this humanitarian Christmas number one. The generous spirit that Christmas evokes makes this song a welcome inclusion on Christmas party playlists.

Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade

Scientists have recently confirmed in a study that people get their best ideas in the shower and Slade would be the first to agree. Written during a 20 minute burst of inspiration by bassist, Jim Lea, when he was taking a shower, the royalties from ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ are still pouring in to this day - but only half of the band get to reap the rewards.  

Noddy Holder’s inimitable raspy voice hails the arrival of the holiday season each year, shouting, “It’s Christmaaaaasssss!!!!” with the excitement of a child. The popularity of this song at kicking off Christmas parties worldwide means that it generates more in royalties each Christmas than any other Christmas song. Noddy Holder and Jim Lea split the $860,000 annual royalties evenly but the other two band members receive nothing. This has resulted in a bitter feud where the band members are no longer speaking.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl

This dirge, with its mournful story of a couple of down-and-outs, begins in a plaintive tone, which makes it a surprising choice for inclusion at a festive atmosphere but its popularity of being sung on karaoke at Christmas parties is unceasing. So what is that makes this song so often top lists touting it as the greatest Christmas song of all time?

For many, this song represents a Christmas that they can realistically identify with, in contrast to the happy, dreamlike creations of the majority of Christmas songs. There is a gritty realism to the lyrics, which couples with the raw, raspy vocals of the duo to bluntly tell it like it is.

However, beneath that surface, there is a hopefulness to the outlook of the pair as they dream big and look to the future. The romantic projections of what their lives will be like when they make it to America is something that many emigrants and dreamers aspire to.

The pace changes in the third chorus to become more buoyant in reflection of their hopes. Ultimately, the pair reveal that they love and need each other, meaning that though it was originally written as an anti-Christmas song, it is, at its core, just as romantic and high-spirited as other Christmas songs.

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Written by Irving Berlin, Bing Crosby gently croons this Christmas ballad as if were a lullaby. The images conjured by the nostalgic lyrics provided much-needed comfort to American GIs during World War II, who were away from their loved ones at the Christmas season. The song became a staple on the Armed Forces Radio Service and this popularity drove it to become the biggest-selling single of all time, having sold over 50 million copies. Bing Crosby performed this song to soldiers out on the field on many occasions. The GIs would stand transfixed as his performance transported them back home for that one precious moment in time and provided them with the incentive to look positively to a happy future.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee’s mature vocals and rich tone belie the fact that she was only thirteen years old when she recorded this song! She was heavily influenced by artists that she admired such as Peggy Lee and Wanda Jackson and she adopted their intonations in her own singing voice.

This song was written by Johnny Marks, who also wrote Christmas classics including, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’. As this fake Christmas party scene in Home Alone demonstrates, this is one Christmas song that is guaranteed to bring a Christmas party to life.

Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms

Written by advertising men, whose expertise lay in writing a good jingle, they built this song around their favourite word, with the word ‘jingle’ sung fifty times in the song! The song is reminiscent of the popular Christmas song ‘Jingle Bells’, even referencing a ‘one horse open sleigh’. It also takes influence from ‘Rock Around the Clock’, which had been released just two years earlier, with its instruction to ‘jingle around the clock’. The ad men’s tactics worked, as the record has gone on to sell more than 120 million copies.

The iconic opening guitar chords in this song are played by Hank Garland, who Elvis picked as his constant accompanying guitarist, professing him to be ‘one of the finest guitar players anywhere in the country.’

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard

There are people who wish it could be Christmas everyday and then there are those that take it to an extreme, with Christmas decorations adorning their houses all year round. Wizzard fall into this category: they recorded this track in the height of a hot British summer but to recreate the British Christmas spirit, lead singer, Roy Wood went to the recording studio a few hours before the band were due to record the track to turn all the fans on. By the time the band came to record, it was so cold that they all had to perform the song in coats and scarves. He also installed a Christmas tree in the studio and decked out the speakers in tinsel and fairy lights to create a festive atmosphere.

Sax player Mike Burney claimed that the song title was inspired by him expressing his excitement to Roy Wood at being in the band which made him feel like it was Christmas everyday. This perennial song generates that same level of excitement for Christmas party-goers each year.

Jingle Bells - Bucko and Champs

‘Jingle Bells’ has hit stratospheric heights - literally: it was the first song to be broadcast from space!  Now synonymous with Christmas, it was actually originally performed at a Thanksgiving celebration.

In reality, all these song lyrics celebrating snow and reindeer reference things that Australians can’t really identify with, as they do not accurately reflect their experience of Christmas. It’s less chestnuts roasting by a cosy fire; more sausages sizzling on a barbie. Cue Bucko and Champs, who came to answer that problem with their very Australian version of Jingle Bells. This paints a more accurate picture of an Aussie Christmas, bringing to mind images of having a barbeque by the pool on a hot, sunny day in your shorts and thongs.

Get ahead of the game this Christmas party season by booking your Melbourne venue and musicians before it’s too late! Tremolo has a fantastic range of artists that are available to book now for your Melbourne-based Christmas party. 

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