During the winter holiday season, many stations will change their typical programming to cater more towards the yuletide spirit. Whether your listeners celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other winter holiday, chances are they're looking for programming that will put them in a festive mood.
Even if you're set on sticking to a specific genre throughout late November and December, it's still a good idea to sprinkle in some holiday songs when you can. Not only because it's a musical tradition every year, but also because there are certain songs that trend during the final two months of the year. You may already know which holiday songs we're talking about. Why do they keep reappearing on the charts every winter? Simple: because people want to listen to them.
As a broadcaster, it's wise to cater to the demand of the public if you're looking to grow your station. If you supply to a demand, you will receive the best Christmas gift ever: more listeners!
But even better than more listeners are people who decide to listen to your station longer. Because the longer someone listens to your station, the more of an impression it will make on them and the more loyal they may become to your station. Retention rates are important, people!
This is where playing popular holiday songs can really come in handy, because if you play a holiday song on your station people love and want to sing along to, the longer they're going to stay tuned. They're going to want to listen to that song from start to finish. And then once that song is over, they may stay for another song. And then another, and another...
That said, we're not saying you have to make your entire December rotation just popular holiday songs. In fact, we recommend programming popular Christmas music sparingly – that way it doesn't detract listeners who may be more interested in newer or more underrated material. Plus, a sudden popular song in the mix acts as a little surprise for people who have been listening to your station for a while!
So that's WHY you need to program popular holiday songs on your station. Now, let's get into the actual hits: the gold holiday standards that will undoubtedly please your listeners' earholes.
Based on data from Newsweek, the Guinness Book of World Records, and RIAA certification, these are the most popular holiday songs of all time (as of 2022).
The Two Most Popular Holiday Songs in History Are:
- "All I Want For Christmas Is You" - Mariah Carey
This upbeat song always surges to the top of Billboard's Holiday 100 chart every holiday season. “When I wrote [it], I had absolutely no idea the impact the song would eventually have worldwide,” Carey said about her classic 90s track during a 2021 interview. “I’m so full of gratitude that so many people enjoy it with me every year.” A remix of the tune was made with Justin Bieber back in 2011.
- "White Christmas" - Bing Crosby
The Guinness Book of Records has named "White Christmas" not only the best-selling Christmas song of all time, but also the best-selling single generally of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold. While Mariah Carey is the queen of Christmas tunes, Bing Crosby has remained the king since the 1940s.
The Other Most Popular Holiday Songs Are:
- "Silent Night" - Bing Crosby
- "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" - Kirsten Bell (from Frozen)
- "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- "Mistletoe" - Justin Bieber
- "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - Brenda Lee
- "Where Are You Christmas?" - Faith Hill
- "Feliz Navidad" - José Feliciano
- "Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms
- "Last Christmas" - Wham!
- "Mary, Did You Know" - Pentatonix
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Gene Autry
- "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band Aid
- "Blue Christmas"/"Santa Claus is Back in Town" - Elvis Presley
- "Christmas Time is Here" - Vince Guaraldi Trio
- "Christmas Canon" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" - Alvin and The Chipmunks
- "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - Mariah Carey
- "This One's for the Children"/"Funky, Funky Xmas" - New Kids on the Block
And that's about it for now! We hope programming these tunes gets you some radio station success – as well as holiday cheer! Happy broadcasting.
Looking for some holiday music? We've got you covered! Head to Live365.com for a selection of holiday stations.
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