In terms of the holiday song genre, we think the 90s is an underrated decade. 90s holiday tracks don't have the classy feel of Bing Crosby numbers or Andy Williams tunes, but they are catchy, merry, and brighter than the screen of your Nokia 8110.
From pop, to hip-hop, to R&B, 90s holiday tunes encompass a variety of genres. But which ones sound the best and reappear the most every December? That's what we're about to discuss in our top 10 holiday songs of the 90s list! We promise you'll get jiggy with our fly picks.
10. "Christmas Through Your Eyes" - Gloria Estefan
"Christmas Through Your Eyes" appears on Gloria Estefan's 1993 album of the same name. It was written by the great and powerful Dianne Warren, who is known for penning the songs "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship, "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion, and many more hits.
While people have slept on this Gloria Estefan holiday song, we love how calming her vocals and the music production is. Ultimately, it's a nostalgic tune about Estefan wishing she could be a child again. That way, she can see the magic of Christmas once more.
9. "This Gift" - 98º
Throwback to this handsome quartet! There's nothing that'll put you in the Christmas spirit more than the four hunks of 98º serenading you with jingle bells in the background.
Many believe the "gift" of this song to be a marriage proposal, since the speaker says he is "down on [his] knees" during the chorus. In any case, this slow jam will make your heart melt faster than a pile of winter snow.
8. "Everybody Knows the Claus" - Hanson
Before the Jonas Brothers became household names, there was Hanson. There's something so wonderfully 90s teen movie about the pop rock bop "Everybody Knows the Claus." It was the eighth track on Hanson's 1997 holiday album Snowed In, and was released by the brothers just after their debut record Middle of Nowhere.
If you're looking for a tune to get your guests dancing during your holiday party, "Everybody Knows the Claus" is a good choice. Plus, it's a pretty good hype song for Santa.
7. "Christmas Time" - Backstreet Boys
The 1997 Backstreet Boys ballad “Christmas Time” was first released on the Christmas edition of their “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” single. Not to be confused with the Backstreet Boys’ 2012 “It’s Christmas Time Again,” this song emphasizes just how much Christmas is the best time of the year with buttery smooth harmonies from our beloved boys.
We'll gladly join Brian, Nick, AJ, Howie, and Kevin to give glad tidings to the world...any time of year!
6. "The Chanukah Song" - Adam Sandler
Put on your yamaka...here comes Hanukkah! We can't get enough of Adam Sandler's hilarious SNL tune every year. Sandler debuted this novelty song on the "Weekend Update" that occurred on December 3, 1994. It's been a cherished number of the Festival of Lights ever since.
"The Chanukah Song" was written by Sandler, as well as Saturday Night Live writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham. It's a song dedicated to all the little Jewish boys and girls out there who feel alienated because they don't have a Christmas tree. At least we can take pride in the fact Captain Kirk and Spock are Jewish!
5. "Hey Santa!" - Carnie & Wendy Wilson
This adorable song by Carnie & Wendy Wilson is sweeter than a mug of hot chocolate. It was released in 1993 as part of the duo's holiday album of the same name. "Hey Santa!" really picks up once it hits the 50 second mark, and Carnie and Wendy's duetting vocals are so crisp, clean, and cute.
While this song is about missing a loved one who can't arrive on time for Christmas, there is a warm, hopeful tone to it that makes it a holiday radio station staple.
4. "My Grown-Up Christmas List" - Natalie Cole
No, not the 1992 version by Amy Grant. We're talking about the woman who this song was originally written for: Natalie Cole.
In 1990, "My Grown-Up Christmas List" was composed by David Foster (music) and Linda Thompson-Jenner (lyrics) for Ms. Cole. It was recorded as part of Foster's 1990 non-holiday album River of Love and a similar second version on his 1993 holiday album The Christmas Album.
Unfortunately for Cole, the song did not pick up mainstream appeal until Grant covered it for her album Home for Christmas. While Grant's version is good, we think the song sounds a lot better on Cole's voice. There's more intention in her words, and the performance feels more dramatic and impactful because of her vocal chops.
We highly recommend playing the 1999 London Symphony Orchestra version of this song. It sounds like it came straight from a holiday Disney movie!
3. "Sleigh Ride" - TLC
This song slaps. Need we say more?
But seriously: "Sleigh Ride" by TLC is criminally underrated. What makes it a holiday bop? The catchy chorus. T-Boz's wonderfully raspy voice. The melody she sings that totally isn't the original melody of "Sleigh Ride" yet still works somehow. This is a holiday hip-hop/R&B jam you can groove to.
“Sleigh Ride” is actually the 3rd track on A Laface Family Christmas, A 1993 compilation Christmas album of various artists who were signed to LaFace records at the time. Besides TLC, Usher, Toni Braxton, A Few Good Men, OutKast, and McArthur also appear on the record. "Sleigh Ride" was also included on the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York movie soundtrack.
2. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" - NSYNC
Why is it we always hear this song every time we go to a department store or pharmacy during the holiday season? Trust us, that's not a complaint. We consider NSYNC to be the best boy band of all time, and you can't throw a 90s-themed holiday party without putting them in the mix.
While NSYNC only released 3 proper studio albums during their short stint, they did have time to add in the holiday record Home For Christmas. Released in 1998, it mostly contained original songs from the group with a few covers. ("The First Noel" and an a cappella "O Holy Night," to be exact.) "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" is the fourth track on the album, and we're so glad it exists - along with its green screen sleigh ride music video.
1. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" - Mariah Carey
We'd be remiss - and maybe a little idiotic - if we didn't put this song at #1 on our list. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey is probably the most commercially successful holiday song of all time. Along with "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, it is the only track to appear back on the Billboard Hot 100 every year during its respective holiday season. It's probably also the reason why Mariah Carey has a net worth of at least $300 million.
Carey released this classic in 1994 as the lead single from her first holiday album and fourth studio album, Merry Christmas. It has sold more than 14 million copies globally since its debut, making it one of the best-selling singles ever. In the United States, the song has sold 3.6 million downloads as of 2019.
Countless artists have covered the song, including Miley Cyrus, John Mayer, Shania Twain, Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Demi Lovato, Cee Lo Green, Lady A, and Mumford & Sons. Mariah re-recorded the song in 2011 as a duet with Justin Bieber. There's even a book based around "All I Want for Christmas Is You" that Carey wrote herself.
What has allowed this holiday song to endure throughout the years? Undoubtedly, it's Mariah's astounding vocals, the cheery up-tempo rhythm, and a heartwarming message about wanting nothing but your lover for Christmas. It's a very 90s song, but it will always be timeless!
Looking for some holiday music? We've got you covered! Head to Live365.com for a selection of holiday stations.
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