When it comes to Christmas music, I lean heavily toward the classic songs written a hundred-plus years ago that contain strong religious themes within the lyrics. Those hymns, in all the varied renditions, will always be my favorites, hence my highlighting them in a plethora of blog posts over the years. Links to past posts, which always include history facts, lyrics, and YouTube videos can be found in the Pemberley Library under the “Holiday Blogs –» Christmas Carols” section. In the weeks ahead I cover a few more, so be on the lookout for those posts!
Despite my preference for the super-oldies but goodies performed in a traditional style, I also love non-religious Christmas songs. Whether about Santa Claus or jingling bells on sleighs or roasting chestnuts over an open fire, I honestly adore just about every Christmas related song that has ever been written. Maybe not every rendition, mind you, but the multitude of winter wonderland classics by crooners like Bing Crosby all the way through the years to contemporary pop artists are part of my complete YouTube Christmas Music Playlist (click link to the right).
The word “modern” as defined by me for the sake of this post and others to follow are those written in the 20th century onward, whether classics or one-offs. Artists of all music genres dive into recording holiday songs, many writing fresh material or recording an established song in a unique peppy style. I went on a YouTube search and uncovered quite a few that I hadn’t heard or had forgotten about. As the season marches on with my focus on all-things Christmas, I’ll be sharing some of what I unearthed. Enjoy!
I have never heard of Olivia Lane, which does not surprise me since I listen to mostly classic rock artists. According to her bio, Olivia Lane is a “Nashville-based country singer and songwriter who mixes an energetic, pop-infused twang with optimistic, inspirational lyrics.” All I know is that this song, titled Feeling Like Christmas, is very fun and has a fabulous video.
Mariah Carey wrote All I Want for Christmas Is You way back in 1994. She has performed the song dozens of times and recorded music videos numerous times as well. Always adorable, this version is her latest official video from 2019, the “Make My Wish Come True” edition.
Jingle Bell Rock was recorded by country music artist Bobby Helms in 1957. The exact writer of the music and lyrics is under dispute, but no one argues that Helms’ version is the best known. Over the decades, the song has been recorded by numerous artists, most of whom are within the broad country genre such as George Strait, Rascal Flatts, and Blake Shelton. My personal favorite, as I am not a huge fan of country music, is the rock-a-billy version by Daryl Hall and John Oates from 1983.
This adorable song was a big hit in the UK and Europe in the mid-1980s. Merry Christmas Everyone was written in 1984 by Bob Heatlie specifically for the Welsh artist known as Shakin’ Stevens (real name Michael Barratt). This catchy song was a total surprise to me, found literally by searching for “Christmas music videos” on YouTube, and I absolutely love it! Very cute video too!
Last for today, a classic written by Irving Berlin in 1942 with a makeover! White Christmas was written for the movie Holiday Inn and most famously sung by crooner Bing Crosby. The song has been recorded by a vast number of artists, including Michael Bublé, Gwen Stefani, Andy Williams, Garth Brooks, and Michael Bolton. This rendition is by the Australian pop group Human Nature and is from their 2013 holiday album, also called White Christmas. If you enjoy this selection, Human Nature has a total of 18 Christmas songs on their YouTube channel (some only audio but many with a video) from The Christmas Album 2021 Deluxe Edition.