The Game Plan

Christmas Music Showdown: Who Did It Best?

Posted by Jasmine Lee / Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Looks like Santa's down for some healthy Christmas competition. (Andrea Michele Piacquadio /

For those of us who had our decorations ready to put up
on Nov. 23, took our holiday sweaters out of storage on Nov. 24 and attend every holiday event, the arrival of Christmas music is an exciting development in the year. For those of us who only listen to holiday music when we have no choice—while we’re waiting in line to buy gifts at the mall, while we’re in the doctor’s waiting room, etc.—the enthusiasm might be buried deep inside. How can we satisfy everyone? With a good old-fashioned music showdown!



Let’s kick things off with the most performed Christmas song of all time. Also known by that opening line “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” the song was written in 1944 by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. Nat King Cole recorded it three separate times: 1946, 1953 and 1961. Since then, it’s been covered by hundreds of artists, used in movies and parodied on “The Simpsons.” Last year, Justin Bieber and Usher took a stab at it.

Kids from one to ninety-two: who did it best?


Nat King Cole (1961) vs. Justin Bieber and Usher (2011)





Recorded by beloved R&B singer Donny Hathaway in 1970, “This Christmas” is many people’s favorite holly jolly track—myself included. Chris Brown covered the song in 2007 for the soundtrack of a movie by the same name.  And Cee Lo put his usual creative soulful spin on it when he released his first Christmas album “Cee Lo’s Magic Moment” back in October.

Whose version is filling your world with cheer?


Donny Hathaway (1970) vs. Chris Brown (2007) vs. Cee Lo Green (2012)






When I was a kid, my older sister bought Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album. I had never cared too much for Christmas music, but I played that CD constantly… and with good reason. Carey co-wrote and recorded what will go down in history as one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. It’s been performed hundreds of times, sold over 12 million copies and is now the best-selling holiday ringtone. Last week, Carey visited “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and did a special classroom instrument edition of the song, with some help from a few little helpers. Instead of comparing the original to some drab cover version (no offense, Michael Bublé), it’s only right to pit Mariah vs. Mariah.

Which one makes you hear the sleigh bells ringing?


Mariah Carey (1994) vs. Mariah Carey, The Roots, Jimmy Fallon and four little kids (2012)





Forget a letter mailed to the North Pole; “Santa Baby” is the ultimate Christmas list. How could anyone say no to Earth Kitt’s sweet and seductive voice accompanied by Henri René’s orchestra? Originally recorded in 1953, “Santa Baby” has been covered by Mae West, Madonna, Taylor Swift and even Miss Piggy of The Muppets. Michael Bublé changed the lyrics (“Santa buddy,” “Santa pally”) to record a more masculine version for his 2011 Christmas album.

Which one makes you want Santa to hurry down the chimney?


Eartha Kitt (1953) vs. Michael Bublé (2011)





Judy Garland first recorded this for the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis,” but it’s the version by Ol’ Blue Eyes that’s got everybody singing. It seems like all the greats have done it: Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Barbra Streisand, The Jackson Five, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston. Rod Stewart added his name to the list when he recorded “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” for his most recent album “Merry Christmas, Baby.”

Which one lets your heart be light?


Frank Sinatra (1946) vs. Rod Stewart (2012)




What other songs would you put up for competition? 
Leave your votes and thoughts in the comments section!

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One Response

Martin Says:

Here are a few that may appeal to some of the Bah-humbuggers:
-Don’t Shoot Me Santa, The Killers
-Great Big Sled, The Killers
-The Season’s Upon Us, Dropkick Murphys
-No Christmas for Me, Zee Avi
-Little Drummer Boy, Jimmy Hendrix
-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Aimee Mann
-We Three Kings, Blondie

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