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15 Songs for Your Holiday Playlist That Aren’t "All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Lesser known (but still great) holiday tunes that'll have you rockin' around the Christmas tree.

Daniel Fernandez · about 1 month ago

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Getty

No disrespect WHATSOEVER to Queen Mariah, but maaaaybe it's time for some holiday tunes you haven't already heard a million times? We’re all about Christmas cheer and trying new things here at CAMP, so let's expand our holiday horizons beyond the classics! Here are some new (or maybe just new-to-you) jingle bell bangers to add to your holiday playlist.

1. Dominick The Donkey by Lou Monte

Rudolph and the other reindeer seem to get all the love around the holidays. Heck, even polar bears, penguins, and other arctic animals get a little extra attention this time of year. So you can see why it’s such a shame that no one talks about Dominick the (Italian Christmas) Donkey. This song is absolutely hilarious and the stand out moment in it by far is the rhyming of the name “Josephine” with “Brooklyn” (it's a work of art, truly).  

2. Puppy for Hanukkah by Daveed Diggs

Admittedly, most holiday music focuses on Christmas traditions and general yuletide cheer, but when was the last time you heard a song written specifically for those who celebrate the Festival of Lights? "Puppy for Hanukkah" by Daveed Diggs (yep, Hamilton's Lafayette himself) combines the most requested gift by children every holiday season with hard hitting 808s and a flurry of fun raps that make this one a Hanukkah banger!

3. Everybody’s Waitin’ For The Man With The Bag by Darren Criss ft. Adam Lambert

This newer Christmas song is an old-fashioned, swingin’ good time, with a walking bass line that will get everybody dancing. And who can't relate to this song? Come Christmas morning, aren't we all waitin’ for the man with the bag? Well, aren't we???

4. 12 Days of Christmas by Pentatonix

Though this song is technically an oldie, this rendition by premiere a cappella group Pentatonix is not only a modern take on a classic, but it’s super fun and impressive to listen to! As they sing about the 12 Days of Christmas, these singers masterfully go through different styles of music from hip hop to pop to reggae using only their voices! By the end of the song everyone will be harmonizing along (or at least try to, like we do in my family).

5. Santa’s Coming for Us by Sia

Known for her big vocals and even bigger hair, when most people think of Sia’s music they either think “super emotional” and/or “catchy Top 40 hits.” However, not many folks are aware that this pop powerhouse released an entire Christmas album back in 2017 of really diverse and original holiday songs. "Santa’s Coming for Us" has a singalong groove that’ll definitely get the entire house moving and bopping. 

6. My Only Wish by Britney Spears

In honor of #FreedBritney, you know I had to shout out this criminally underrated holiday song. Along with Britney’s catchy melodies and raspy vocals (oh baybeh, baybeh), "My Only Wish" is replete with a super singable breakdown in the bridge and an absolutely necessary key change that’ll have you belting into your glass of eggnog as a microphone. 

7. White Winter Hymnal by Birdy

While most folks know and love the Fleet Foxes version of this song (which is also pretty darn great), the Birdy version of "White Winter Hymnal" is by far my favorite. Though the song itself doesn’t make any overt references to the holidays (except for maybe being out in the snow) and the melody is a bit melancholy, Birdy layers her vocals into a beautiful and haunting crescendo. This is definitely my “song to watch snow fall to.” 

8. Step Into Christmas by Elton John

I’m ashamed to admit that I never knew that the Rocket Man himself had his own Christmas song — but am now proud to admit that I know all of the words by heart after listening to it non-stop. Much like the other songs in Elton John’s catalogue, this song is just a pure joy-filled, rock-piano driven bundle of energy that snowballs into a good time through and through. After a few listens you’ll surely be stepping into every room in your house singing this chorus.

9. Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC

Known for their cheeky and over-the-top storytelling through rap, you can tell at first listen that RUN DMC had a ton of fun making this one. It tells the story of Santa Claus taking a trip to Hollis, Queens in New York City where his favorite rap group lives. From mistaking a dog for a reindeer, to Santa giving the gift of a million dollars, you’ll either find yourself bobbing your head to the beat, making sure you heard the right lyrics, or both! 

10. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus by The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Rockabilly Christmas? Don’t mind if I do! This song is so rockin’ and high-energy with chugging electric guitars and galloping drums that you may not even notice what Brian Setzer says while singing about Santa Claus: “He lives up in a mountain, like a hermit in the cave, whenever he had a haircut, he never took a shave.” I don’t blame you if you don’t catch the lyrics the first time as you’ll probably be busy shimmying, juking, and jiving around the Christmas tree. 

11. What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder

Mistletoe, singers caroling, and spending time with loved ones ... the legend Mr. Stevie Wonder paints a picture of all the things that make Christmas so meaningful to him. This groovy Motown feel-good Christmas song will make you sing along and keep in mind all of the wonderful things that make the holidays special to you. 

12. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby

The title of this lesser known holiday song from "White Christmas" crooner Bing Crosby comes from the Hawaiian way of saying “Merry Christmas." This song is especially unique because where most Holiday songs would mention “snow,” this one talks about “palm trees swaying,” and the typical usage of jingle bells is replaced here with a steel guitar! Mele Kalikimaka, friends, it’s tons of fun to say! 

13. Jingle Bells by Ella Fitzgerald

This swingin’ take on the Holiday classic Jingle Bells by none other than jazz legend, Ella Fitzgerald, is the perfect song to wake up to on Christmas morning. Forget what you knew about the original — this version features tons of fun rhythmic changes to the melody and arrangement that will have you tapping those feet. Also, fun fact: this was also the first song to be broadcast from space on December 16, 1965! 

14. What’s This by Danny Elfman

Found on the soundtrack of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, “What’s This” isn’t your typical Holiday song.  In this song, the hero of the movie, Jack Skellington, sings about the curiosity, joy, and wonder he experiences as he witnesses Christmas for the first time. It’s a jaunty tune that at its core is meant to help us remember what's exciting and fun and, yes, a little bit strange about the holiday season ("In here, they've got a little tree — how queer! And who would ever think. And why?").

15. O Tannebaum by Vince Guaraldi Trio

Vince and his trio actually composed and played all of the wonderful music that's featured in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” After presents have been opened and carols have been sung, this is the perfect song to listen to while you snuggle up with some hot cocoa and watch the snow fall with your family.