Christmas music you may not have heard in a swatch of styles.
Just one verse each day.
It took 25 years, but Mariah Carey’s holiday hit, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has made it to the #1 spot. The song had previously made it to #3 on Billboard’s holiday chart, but the release of her 25th Anniversary Edition of her 1994 album Merry Christmas has led to a resurgence of the popular Christmas tune.
It’s hard to write a good Christmas tune. The process is a balancing act between the keeping the sentimentality of the season and maintaining the joy and excitement of a new song. “All I Want for Christmas” is exceptionally rare because it is a perfect Christmas song that was reportedly written by Mariah and her co-writer Walter Afanasieff in about 15 minutes.
Carey’s success got us wondering; How many other Great Christmas tunes have been overlooked for years, if not decades? We took a look through the songs of Christmases past and brought together five examples of great Christmas music that has long gone overlooked. Who knows, maybe we can get one of these up to the #1 spot … in another 25 years.
1. “‘Zat You Santa Claus?” – Louis Armstrong
There’s something about Louis Armstrong’s gravelly voice that brings to mind a simpler time. For a great chunk of the 20th century, Armstrong’s was one of the most famous voices in the world. Even today — nearly 50-years since Armstrong’s passing — his voice is unmistakable. We’d never heard this song about Santa Claus, but it’s a fun, brass-driven tune that’s bound to bring smiles.
2. “We Three Kings” – Harry Connick, Jr.
We knew Connick Jr. had a great voice, but we were blown away at how well he plays the piano. If you’re looking for an instrumental for background Christmas music that can largely be ignored, this tune is not the best pick. His thrilling arrangement of “We Three Kings” will have you stopping conversations so you don’t miss a note.
3.Praetorius: “A Great And Mighty Wonder” – The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
“A great and mighty wonder, a full and holy cure! The Virgin bears the Infant with virgin-honor pure”
If you’re looking for a Christmas carol that’s different from “The Wassail Song,” this hymn was written by St. Germanus I and it dates back to between the 7th and 8th centuries. The tune may sound familiar as the lyrics were set to the same music, by Praetorius, as “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” so you may already know the melody — all you need is a new lyric sheet.
4. “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day” – Brenda Lee
In 1964, Brenda Lee released this Christmas tune, full of the longing for those to whom we’re closest to be home for the holidays. The song moves along the same trope as “Blue Christmas,” but Brenda Lee puts on a great vocal, and the melody moves in ways that we didn’t expect. Brenda Lee also gave us “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.”
5. “The Secret of Christmas” – Ella Fitzgerald
Last, but certainly not least, we have Ella Fitzgerald’s masterpiece “The Secret of Christmas.” Fitzgerald made an absolutely gorgeous song that comforts with lullaby tones, accompanied by a harp and a quiet orchestra. The song is about keeping the spirit of Christmas all year round. This may be the perfect song to play on Christmas night, to keep the spirit alive into the New Year.