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The 12 best Christmas songs to listen to this holiday season and beyond
For those who have had “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on repeat since Thanksgiving, your wish has come true: Yes, there’s new Mariah Carey holiday music! “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” arrives on Apple TV+ on Friday, the same day its soundtrack hits Apple Music.
But ’tis not only the season of Mimi! Here, 12 new festive tracks worth weaving in with your favorite classics this holiday.
Dolly Parton, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
The Queen of Country has been giving Mariah a run for the title of Queen of Christmas this year, with a holiday album (“A Holly Dolly Christmas”), a Netflix movie musical (“Christmas on the Square”) and a CBS special (also named “A Holly Dolly Christmas”) airing on Sunday. But as she shows on this charming chestnut, you can never get too much Dolly.
Meghan Trainor featuring Earth, Wind & Fire, “Holidays”
“It’s a celebration,” Trainor announces at the beginning of this buoyant bop. That may be an understatement, given the way this original — from her new LP, “A Very Trainor Christmas” — puts the “ho-ho-ho” into the holidays. But it’s EWF — and the group’s legendary horns — that really fires up the festivities.
Gwen Stefani, “Sleigh Ride”
You’ll be feeling hella joyful when the No Doubt frontwoman takes you dashing through the snow on this cut from the newly reissued deluxe edition of “You Make It Feel Like Christmas.”
Juanes and Jay de la Cueva, “El Niño del Tambor”
Colombian icon Juanes goes mano a mano with the frontman of Mexican group Moderatto for a rock-charged rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy” sung in Spanish. It’s off the soundtrack to the holiday special “Celebremos: Eterna Navidad,” premiering Friday on the Spanish-language streaming service Pantaya.
Love Renaissance (LVRN), 6LACK and Summer Walker, “Ghetto Christmas”
Sprinkled with hip-hop and contemporary R&B flavor — more of a head-nodder than an egg-nogger — this track from the fresh seasonal set “Home for the Holidays” feels like a 2020 update of the Run-DMC classic “Christmas in Hollis.”
Carly Rae Jepsen, “It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries”
The “Call Me Maybe” singer will you have you in tears laughing about the family drama that inevitably goes down like too many Christmas cookies — or, in this case, “holiday high”-inducing “gummies that we meant to hide from Grandpa.”
Kelly Clarkson, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
If you think Clarkson deigned to compete with Carey here, think again. Instead, the “Voice” coach pours her powerhouse instrument into a remake of Vince Vance & the Valiants’ country Christmas staple from the ’90s. Made for a slow dance under the mistletoe.
Jonas Brothers, “I Need You Christmas”
Last year, the JoBros were finger-snapping all the way with “Like It’s Christmas.” In 2020, Nick, Joe and Kevin are, like many of us, more melancholy than merry. Still, the harmonizing heartthrobs turn their crooning into your swooning. Bonus points for the adorbs lyric video with home footage.
Sam Smith, “The Lighthouse Keeper”
Just a few weeks after dropping his latest studio album, “Love Goes,” the velvety-voiced Brit switched gears with this haunting, string-swept ballad about making it safely home for the holidays — a sentiment that takes on new meaning in the middle of a pandemic.
Leslie Odom Jr. featuring Nicolette Robinson, “Ma’oz Tzur”
His second holiday LP may be titled “The Christmas Album,” but the “Hamilton” star puts a jazzy spin on the Hebrew Hanukkah song with his wife and fellow Broadway performer.
Carrie Underwood, “O Holy Night”
Sometimes you just need a killer singer to deliver a divine traditional without any bells and whistles — and that’s exactly what happens on this track from the country superstar’s new Christmas album, “My Gift.” When she nails that high note at the end, she’ll have you falling on your knees.
Andrea Bocelli and Alison Krauss, “Amazing Grace”
Although this hymn isn’t technically a Christmas song, it captures the spiritual comfort that we could all use this COVID-humbugged holiday season. Taken from Bocelli’s new inspirational album, “Believe,” this duet with Krauss is the perfect blend of grandeur and grace.