Holiday Playlist: Songs to Get You Ready for Christmas

Featuring songs from Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, and of course, Mariah Carey

Is it just me or did this year feel like it sped by, but still managed to be simultaneously slow? Well, whether you’re ready or not, Christmas is this Saturday.

This week, we’ve curated the perfect playlist to help you get through wrapping those last minute Christmas gifts or simply get into the holiday spirit. Some of these tracks are new, while others are classics, but they’re sure to get you into a festive mood.

Mariah Carey, “All I Want For Christmas”

We all know that Mariah Carey owns the holiday season—and has for many years—so it’d be criminal to not include one of her Christmas songs on this list. Last month, she teamed up with Khalid and Kirk Franklin to release a new track titled “Fall in Love at Christmas,” which is certainly worth a listen. But we all know what song we want to hear from the queen of Christmas.

Donny Hathaway, “This Christmas”

You’ve likely heard renditions of this Black holiday anthem by musicians like Usher, Aretha Franklin, and Chris Brown who sang it for a popular film with the same name. But the first person to record was none other than the late Grammy award winning singer, Donny Hathaway. Recorded in 1970, the single was written by a songwriting receptionist named Nadine McKinnor.

RUN-D.M.C., “Christmas in Hollis”

Featured in the 1988 film Die Hard—although it did not appear on the soundtrack album—and Seth Rogen’s 2015 comedy The Night Before, Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” is an alt-holiday anthem that strays away from the typically sappy tunes. Also, the original 12″ cover was designed by fellow New Yorker, Keith Haring.

Kelly Clarkson & Ariana Grande, “Santa, Can’t You Hear Me” 

Featured on Kelly Clarkson’s holiday spectacular, “When Christmas Comes Around” on NBC earlier this month, she and pop star Ariana Grande performed “Santa, Can’t You Hear Me.”

Justin Bieber, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” 

Ten years ago, Justin Bieber released a Christmas album titled Under the Mistletoe, with a mix of original and classic holiday tracks. Among the tracks that stands out is “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” featuring his mentor, Usher. But of course, the first crooner to record the classic song was Nat King Cole in 1946, which was written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells.

The Jackson 5, “Someday At Christmas”

Originally recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967, The Jackson 5 released their version of “Someday At Christmas” on their own holiday album, Jackson 5 Christmas Album. We also equally love “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

José Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad”

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of José Feliciano’s bilingual anthem “Feliz Navidad.” The Puerto Rico native told NPR that although the song is joyful, he wrote it at a time when he was feeling lonely. “I missed my family, I missed Christmas carols with them. I missed the whole Christmas scene.” Years later, “Feliz Navidad” is still a song that brings joy not only to Feliciano, but so many others during the holiday season.

Destiny’s Child, “8 Days of Christmas”

Released in 2001 by girl group Destiny’s Child, “8 Days of Christmas” is still in rotation for the holidays.

Kurtis Blow, “Christmas Rappin’

In 1979, hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow released what is said to be the first Christmas rap record on a major label when Mercury released it in 1979.

Boyz II Men ft. Brian McKnight, “Let It Snow” 

Of all the songs featured on Boyz II Men’s 1993-album, Christmas Interpretations, “Let It Snow” is without a doubt a standout that deserves a play every holiday season.

Jhené Aiko – “Wrap Me Up”

Los Angeles native Jhené Aiko released this romantic ballad earlier last week just in time for the holiday, which is worth a listen.

Stevie Wonder, “What Christmas Means To Me”

“What Christmas Means To Me” appeared on Stevie Wonder’s first holiday album, Someday at Christmas, released in 1967.

Tyler, The Creator, “I AM THE GRINCH”

The native Angeleno and Grammy award winner released Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, after contributing two tracks for film’s official soundtrack. One of those songs is “I AM THE GRINCH.”

Eartha Kitt, “Santa Baby” 

This cheeky, holiday hit is arguably one of Eartha Kitt’s most famous songs. Released in 1953, “Santa Baby” was written by Joan Javits and Phillip Springer.

Jonas Brothers, “Like It’s Christmas” 

The Jonas Brothers—comprised of Kevin, Joe, and Nick—released the upbeat pop song, “Like It’s Christmas,” in November 2019.

Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” 

Featured on A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” has become a classic carol.

Jimmy Fallon ft. Ariana Grande, and Megan Thee Stallion, “It Was A…(Masked Christmas)”

Earlier this month, Jimmy Fallon teamed up with pop singer Ariana Grande and rap star Megan Thee Stallion for the satirical—but very real—single, “It Was A… (Masked Christmas).”

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