Music · Music Monday · Nostalgia

Music Monday: 11 Modern Christmas Songs Destined to Become Classics


I heard a complaint the other day about how the vast majority of Christmas songs that the local radio station plays (you know, the station that plays holiday songs 24/7 this time of year) are the same awful, tired “classics” and if the radio station manager had any guts, he would add “new” Christmas songs into the rotation because there are so many great contemporary Christmas songs lost in a sea of sappy, even corny, vintage vinyl.

I was taken aback by this attack on the awesome old holiday songs I dearly love. But it got me thinking. One of the reasons the classic Christmas songs get so much air time is because they evoke nostalgia. Heck, probably the main reason classic Christmas songs fill holiday season radio programming is that people are emotionally attached to those songs. They are a happy celebration of days-gone-by; a time machine to Christmases past.  Hearing Nat King Cole sing The Christmas Song, or The Carpenters harmonize on Sleigh Ride, or Frank Sinatra croon Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas gives you unrivaled nostalgic feelings.

How could anyone complain about that?

But then I wondered if maybe the complainer had a point; perhaps there is room for modern Christmas songs among the oldies.  And then I had another thought: in the next 20 or 30 or 40 years, would any of the modern Christmas songs produced today become classics themselves?

So here at The Nostalgia Diaries, we decided to poke around to see what we could find and we pulled together a list of some great contemporary Christmas songs that may become as synonymous with the holidays as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.


We’re starting off the list with what may arguably already be a modern classic.  Like Bing and Frank and Nat, Mariah Carey gets huge radio play of her 1994 song, All I Want For Christmas Is You. There’s a smattering of 90’s songs in the list to go along with that one, but the rest are from the 2000s, including our most recent contender, Glow by Brett Eldredge from October of this year.  Take a listen and enjoy!

1) All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey (1994)

2) Cold December Night- Michael Buble (2011)

3) All My Bells are Ringing – Lenka (2008)

4) Christmas Song – Dave Matthews (1993)

5) Mistletoe – Colbie Caillat (2012)

6) Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson (2013)

7) Grown-Up Christmas List – Amy Grant (1992)

8) Glow – Brett Eldredge (2016)

9) What God Wants for Christmas – Darius Rucker (2014)

10) Christmas Is All In the Heart – Steven Curtis Chapman (1995)

11) Where Are You Christmas – Faith Hill (2000)

* * *

So what do you think, fellow Nostalgia Seekers?  Any of these modern holiday tunes destined to be nostalgic Christmas classics someday? Any different modern Christmas songs you love that we didn’t list? Share them with us in the comments below!






9 thoughts on “Music Monday: 11 Modern Christmas Songs Destined to Become Classics

  1. My first reaction to the idea of anyone wanting anything but the classics played as “Christmas music” during the holiday season was – gut reaction – anger and frustration. How dare they disparage classic Christmas! Apparently nostalgia courses through my blood also. I listen to the “new” Christmas songs introduced occasionally on the radio, sometimes in a Hallmark Christmas movie or special holiday show, and a wall goes up in my heart and mind. How dare they use anything but Christmas classics! But as I played through each of the 10 “newer” songs you posted, I recognized a pattern. Some, I actually liked. Others not so much. And the pattern was I recognized and liked those from the nineties (plus Faith Hill’s 2000 hit). The others, not so much. So what does that tell me? I still love the old Christmas songs best. But those I’ve “lived with” over the last 2-3 decades have worked their way into my concept of Christmas music. The longer I’ve lived with them – and times and memories associated with them – the dearer they are to me. I was born in the mid-1900’s. The music of that era and before, those Christmas songs I associate with childhood, with adolescent angst, with starting out on my own in the world – those evoke “love of Christmas” most in me. But those from the nineties, well, each passing year they increasingly merge with the sounds I associate with Christmas.

    So I think those young folks who want new songs played more often may have a point. They are making their own memories and associations. The “tired old classics” say Christmas because they’re always there. But the fresh, newer talents and songs will say Christmas at least as loudly, if not more so, for those who grow up with them. They’ll say Christmas just as much as Bing’s White Christmas or Elvis’ Blue Christmas say it to earlier generations.

    It doesn’t make our favorites irrelevant. And the “young folks” aren’t being sacrilegious because they may like the new music more than the old. Nostalgia is whatever revives past feelings and memories, and that’s inevitably different from one generation to the next.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking post!

  2. I’m a fan of All I Want for Christmas is You. I can’t help myself. And if I turn the volume up, I swear I sounds just like Mariah in ’94.

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