Top 50 Country Christmas Songs (Part 2)
In ‘The Christmas Guest,’ the story of spreading holiday cheer takes on a whole new meaning, thanks to Johnny Cash‘s signature deep and raspy voice.
In this addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list, Cash tells the holiday story of a shopkeeper named Conrad, who is waiting on a visit from the Lord. As strangers come to his door seeking help, he realizes that God visited him in the form of beggars who needed his generosity. It’s a story all Christians hear at Christmas: Treat others as you would like to be treated, just like the Bible says. But something about the Man in Black telling the story makes it even more touching.
Joe Nichols‘ jazzy version of ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas‘ is the perfect holiday tune for the country singer’s crystal clear voice. Nichols recorded this entry on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list in 2004, which is when he released ‘A Traditional Christmas.’ Although ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ didn’t find a spot on the charts, it has become a Christmas staple for country music fans.
Nichols approaches the song with just a brass section and a jazzy steel guitar. The song wouldn’t sound like a Christmas hit at all, except that Nichols’ voice has the perfect amount of southern drawl.
Vince Gill recorded a cover of ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ and named his first Christmas album after the song in 1993. Gill’s version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ landed on the charts. But we chose ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ for our Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list because the country crooner recorded it with his daughter. Together, the Gills created a quintessential — albeit a little cheesy — song for the holiday season. Like father, like daughter, right?
In 1982, the Oak Ridge Boys reminded us of one of the Christmas gifts we should be most thankful for. ‘Thank God for Kids’ is a heartwarming holiday ballad about the joy that kids bring to the Christmas season. After all, if there were no kids, we wouldn’t have Santa Claus. And what’s a Christmas without Santa?
This addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list spent 16 weeks on the Hot Country Songs charts when it was released. In 2004, Kenny Chesney gave it new life by recording his own twangy rendition of the popular Christmas song.
Nobody can put a classic country twist on a Christmas hymn like Martina McBride. McBride recorded a mega-popular version of this song for her 1998 album, ‘White Christmas.’ The holiday album was so successful that RCA re-released it in 1999, and then again in 2007 with new artwork and four additional tracks. In 2009, Legacy Records released the album with a DVD. This addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs has had a long shelf life on country radio. In 2001 — three years after its initial release — ‘O Holy Night’ appeared on the country charts.
Is any Christmas party complete without ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’? We certainly don’t think so. That’s why ’60s rockabilly star Brenda Lee’s rendition of the holiday tune scored a spot on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list. Lee was only 13 when she recorded ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ in 1958. The song climbed to No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. While she is typically considered a country singer, this hit had widespread pop music appeal for Lee. ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ has been covered by dozens of artists, including country singers Amy Grant, Toby Keith, Alabama and LeAnn Rimes.
For some cold-natured country fans, a dream Christmas would be hanging out in the sunshine on a beach somewhere. Kenny Chesney‘s hit ‘All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan’ — which was released on his 2003 album of the same name – describes the perfect holiday at sea. While Christmas songs don’t always perform well on the radio, this beachy Christmas album reached the Top 10 on the country charts.
If snowy nights, family dinners and eggnog aren’t your thing, tune in to this addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs. It’s all about relaxing with a pina colada and the guy or girl of your dreams.
With harmonica riffs and Clint Black‘s signature country twang, ‘Til Santa’s Gone (Milk and Cookies)’ is the epitome of a good country Christmas song. This addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list is a simple song about the trick for bringing Santa Claus back year after year. All it takes is a delicious plate of milk and cookies. Black released the song on his 1995 album ‘Looking for Christmas.’ The album peaked at No. 25 on the country albums chart, and ”Til Santa’s Gone (Milk and Cookies) made chart appearances in 1995 and 1997-2000.
Gary Allan‘s 1997 country-meets-blues version of ‘Please Come Home for Christmas‘ is in the running for one of the best covers of this popular holiday tune ever. Clark first covered the song for a Christmas compilation in 1997, and without any solicited airplay whatsoever, managed to land on the country charts. Thanks to his rocking guitar skills and southern drawl, Allan’s version of ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ is rife with passion, musicianship and a touch of holiday spirit. It’ll be hard for another country star to beat out Allan’s version of this song!
Although Brooks and Dunn had a country music heyday in the 1990s, they didn’t release their first Christmas album until 2000. That’s when the duo became one of the hundreds of artists to cover the holiday song ‘Winter Wonderland.’ With their signature style, Brooks and Dunn gave this Christmas tune the country music treatment. The song is complete with twangy vocals and some rocking out on the guitar.
This addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list was on the band’s album ‘It Won’t Be Christmas Without You.’ It reached No. 12 on the country charts.
With a dreamy steel guitar and Willie Nelson‘s soft vocals, ‘Pretty Paper’ is practically the epitome of an original country Christmas song. In the tune, Nelson alters between singing about Christmas gifts and talking about the true meaning of the holiday. The moral of the song? Don’t get so busy with Christmas shopping and gift wrapping that you forget to help people in need. This addition to the Top 50 Country Songs list was written by Nelson in 1963 and originally recorded by Roy Orbison. When Nelson launched his successful performing career, he made it the title track of his Christmas album.
Vince Vance and the Valiants really earned their slot on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list. After all, the country group’s 1989 rendition of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ is the most-played Christmas song on country radio.
Vince Vance and the Valiants released their holiday smash hit on an album of the same name. Although the album didn’t perform as well as the single, the Christmas song appeared on the country charts several times throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The tune scored Vince Vance and the Valiants their only charting song – and it’s a good one.
Given Taylor Swift‘s history of recording songs about breakups, it’s no surprise that we chose her cover of ‘Last Christmas‘ for our Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Swift’s version of the heartsick holiday song is super fun. With bells ringing and a guitar strumming quickly, this crossover country version of ‘Last Christmas’ will get you moving this holiday season. Swift released the song along with a handful of other Christmas tunes on her 2007 album, ‘Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection.’ ‘Last Christmas’ reached No. 28 on the country charts that year.
‘Jingle Bell Rock’ has been sung by hundreds of artists, but no one’s version is as well-known as country crooner Bobby Helms’ recording.
Helms recorded the original version of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ in 1957. Since then, the song has received frequent airplay from radio stations all over the world every Christmas. Helms re-recorded this addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list several times throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Sadly, Helms passed away in 1997, but his legacy lives on through this Christmas favorite.
With old-school harmonies and strumming guitars, Roger Miller’s ‘Old Toy Trains’ is a simple country tune about Santa Claus bringing toys for a little boy on Christmas Eve. The little boy wants to stay up and see the big man in the red suit, but Miller is urging him to go to bed. The singer wrote the popular Christmas tune for his 2-year-old son, Dean Miller, in 1967. This addition to the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs was a popular holiday song, but it was the only one Miller ever wrote. He is best known for his hit songwriting in the ’50s, as well as his collaborations with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
George Strait didn’t release his most well-known Christmas song on any of his own holiday albums. ‘Christmas Cookies’ can only be found on compilation albums, like ‘A Country Superstar Christmas III’ and ‘A Country Christmas’ from 1999. Song. No. 10 on this list of the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs is an instant classic, and perhaps the only well-known tribute to cookies. There truly should be more on this important holiday subject.
Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd‘s timeless Christmas duet made an impact immediately upon being released in 1996. It helped that song No. 9 on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list hadn’t been made a country hit by someone else like so many other country Christmas songs. Aside from a version by Kathy Mattea, country audiences were largely unaware of this beautiful message.
Song No. 8 on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs countdown may also be the only one-man Christmas duet ever recorded. Brad Paisley mixed a version of the song by his 13-year-old self with his contemporary stylings to to build this instant classic. The sweetness of the teenaged Paisley’s self-written lyric is what truly makes this song. He wrote this and two other songs on ‘Brad Paisley Christmas,’ a 2006 album that features superb versions of ‘Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy’ and ‘Jingle Bells.’
Dolly Parton‘s ‘Hard Candy Christmas’ isn’t your typical Christmas carol, as very few classics come from a brothel. The song was included in the play ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,’ but in 1982 it was released as a single, peaking at No. 8. Over the next decade it would become one of the most-played songs come November and December. While its popularity has waned since the mid-’90s, you’re still bound to find Parton’s unmistakable voice on country radio at least once before Dec. 25. Song No. 7 on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list is Parton’s finest yuletide tune, and it would be a travesty to not include it.
Mariah Carey was set to release this Christmas song first, but legal troubles meant someone else had to sing it. Faith Hill was the obvious choice, as few singers were hotter in 2000 than she was. Her version of ‘Where Are You Christmas’ cracked the Top 30 on the country charts and reached No. 10 on the AC charts. The song’s success was certainly helped by the movie ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ but that’s not the only reason it lands at No. 6 on our Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list. The co-writers penned a touching holiday lyric, and Hill performs it like a woman at the top of her game, which she certainly was.
According to Yahoo Music, Elvis Presley‘s ‘Blue Christmas’ helped his 1957 Christmas album ‘Elvis’ Christmas Album’ become the top-selling holiday album of all time. Ernest Tubb originally made Song No. 5 on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list a hit, but Presley’s version is the one we’ve come to count on each December for over 50 years. In 2008, Martina McBride re-recorded the song with Presley electronically. A video was even made appearing to show the two singing next to each other. The song is among the most-covered Christmas classics, with memorable versions in recent years by Blake Shelton (with Pistol Annies) and Porky Pig.
This is one of the best-selling records of all time, and certainly one of the most timeless Christmas classics you’ll hear on the radio this year. A Christmas without Rudolph is like Christmas dinner without dessert. It just doesn’t feel complete until you have both. Yes, song No. 4 on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs countdown is over 60 years old. The singing cowboy had a strong career by the time it was released in 1949, but this would become his first chart-topper in country music and only career No. 1 on the all-genre charts. Many have re-cut ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ but even the younger generations come to agree that the original is still best.
Alabama’s Christmas classic is over 30 years old, but still one of the most popular on country radio stations each year. Occasionally, ‘Christmas in Dixie’ will even reenter the charts — it peaked inside the Top 40 in 1982. Like all of the songs in the Top 10 on this Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list, ‘Christmas in Dixie’ has withstood the test of time. It’s just a simple story about the sights, sounds and joys of the holidays spent south of the Mason Dixon Line. Sung by Randy Owen, the message comes across as pure poetry.
The top Christmas songs on the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs list all share a common trait. Each is absolutely timeless, sounding as if it could have been written either last Christmas or 30 Christmases ago. Merle Haggard‘s ‘If We Make It Through December’ is no different. Themes of sadness and unemployment decorate this drab, but real, holiday standard. Sound familiar? The song was a No. 1 for Haggard, and remains as treasured as cuts like ‘Okie From Muskogee.’
It was clear from the very first spin that Alan Jackson‘s 2002 Christmas song would be more than just another wannabe standard. First, the voice — strong and fatherly, warm… like a plate of fresh gingerbread cookies. A gentle acoustic guitar accompanies a story that sneaks in a lesson of morality. ‘Let It Be Christmas’ is No. 1 on the list of the Top 50 Country Christmas Songs of all time because it’s an original that seemed instantly timeless. It even charted that year, something very difficult to do with a swarm of new songs and covers each season. The entire album is a project worth keeping close come December 25. You could do much, much worse.