Even if you don’t like Christmas songs, there are still some great rock ‘n’ roll holiday tunes out there. They don’t lull you to sleep like some of the slower classics. Instead, these Christmas rock songs pump some spirit into you and get you moving through the holiday season.
Here are 15 of the most festive rock ‘n’ roll Christmas songs.
15. The Beach Boys: ‘Little Saint Nick’
Even though it hit stores the Christmas after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” managed to become a holiday favorite years down the line. It has one of the group’s best harmonies too.
14. The Crystals: ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’
Also released in 1963 was Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, which featured most of the artists he produced with his Wall of Sound technique. The Crystals were one of his top-performing acts of the time, and their “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” has been played in tons of Christmas films.
13. John Lennon and Yoko Ono: ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’
The ex-Beatle recorded his classic holiday song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with his wife Yoko Ono in 1971. It’s one of the most covered Christmas songs ever and has an inspiring message.
12. The Ronettes: ‘Sleigh Ride’
Another tune off Spector’s holiday album, The Ronettes “Sleigh Ride,” can get anyone in the mood for the holidays. Who could resist its catchiness?
11. Paul McCartney: ‘Wonderful Christmastime’
Another ex-Beatle song, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” is simple yet highly effective. There’s not much to the lyrics; Paul wrote them in just 10 minutes. However, that catchy synth beat and the song’s overall message, having a great time with your loved ones, is so festive and makes it among the best Christmas rock songs.
10. Elton John: ‘Step Into Christmas’
If you’re not ready to celebrate the holidays, Elton John has you covered with his “Step Into Christmas.” It’s pretty much what you’d expect an Elton John Christmas song to sound like. There are red feather boas, balloons, confetti, and a groovy melody.
9. U2: ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’
There’s something about U2’s version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” The way Bono sings it is spine-tingling, and it makes coming home for the holidays feel that more special.
8. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: ‘Christmas All Over Again’
Leave it to Tom Petty to describe families coming together for the holidays perfectly in “Christmas All Over Again.” One of the more humorous lines in any Christmas rock song comes here: “Long-distance relatives/Haven’t seen ’em in a long, long time/Yeah, I kind of missed ’em/I just don’t wanna kiss ’em, no.” He’s got a point.
7. Stevie Nicks: ‘Silent Night’
The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman‘s rendition of “Silent Night” is a bit slow but no less inspiring. Her vocals on the song, recorded in 1987, are some of her best. The tune appears on the first version of Jimmy Iovine’s various artists’ compilation album, A Very Special Christmas. Its proceeds go to the Special Olympics.
6. The Pretenders: ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by the Pretenders is another slower song, but no less merry. It’s definitely a different spin on a classic. Who wouldn’t want to hear Chrissie Hynde sing a holiday song?
5. Eurythmics: ‘Winter Wonderland’
Eurythmics frontwoman Annie Lennox definitely put her own spin on another classic, “Winter Wonderland.” Again, who wouldn’t want to hear Lennox sing a Christmas classic? Initially, the tune is a little jarring with its erratic synth in the background and Lennox’s severe singing, but then it gets jolly during the chorus, and Lennox belts it out.
4. The Waitresses: ‘Christmas Wrapping’
You don’t necessarily associate The Waitresses with Christmas, but their “Christmas Wrapping” has always been a hit at the holidays. Frontwoman Patty Donahue sings (more like speaks) the lyrics in her signature style, as she does in the band’s other hit song, “I Know What Boys Like.”
3. Elvis Presley: ‘Blue Christmas’
Another slower tune, but how can you have a list of the best Christmas rock songs without the King? The sad holiday tune shows off some of Presley’s best crooning.
2. Band Aid: ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’
Band Aid, the supergroup consisting of members of the British musical elite, came together to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas” to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief in 1984. Artists like Bono, Phil Collins, Simon Le Bon, Boy George, Sting, George Michael, and many others gave a helping hand. The Christmas rock song sold over 12 million copies by 1989.
1. Wham!: ‘Last Christmas’
Wham!’s “Last Christmas” is the end-all Christmas rock song. Since it’s played so much, many people dislike it. However, according to Mental Floss, the tune has finally reached No. 1 on the U.K. charts this year. The only thing that stopped it from reaching the top in 1984 was the tune above, which George Michael also sang on.
So, there you have it. The top 15 most festive rock ‘n’ roll Christmas songs. The holidays wouldn’t be anything without these merry tunes. They’re special because they come from some of the best rock musicians, who aren’t generally associated with Christmas.