Pioneer Kitty Market's top 10 original classic rock songs about Christmas feature a list of tunes from recording artists who added their special musical flair to the holiday season. While so many musicians have covered festive favorites, this bunch decided to break the mold and come up with something new. As a result, they became Christmas rock classics for music fans to enjoy.
Top 10 Classic Rock Songs About Christmas
#10 - Christmas All Over Again (performed by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers)
“Christmas All Over Again” was a Tom Petty song that served as the lead track to the album, A Very Special Christmas 2. Released in 1992, this original classic featured hints of Phil Spector flavor as Petty’s song served as the highlight of an album that featured several recording artists collaborating to raise funds for the Special Olympics.
Several cover versions of Tom Petty’s “Christmas All Over Again” include performances by Darlene Love, Goo Goo Dolls, and Jon Bon Jovi, just to name a few. This gentle rockin’ Christmas classic remains a favorite played during the holiday season by radio stations and festive-inspired dance clubs.
#9 - Wonderful Christmastime (performed by Paul McCartney)
One of the classic seasonal favorites played every holiday season since November 1979 has been Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” This came from his album, McCartney II, a 1980 release that featured the former Beatles producing his first solo single since 1971’s “Eat at Home.” It quickly became a favorite as it became a top ten hit among the nations of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, and the UK.
It wouldn’t be until 1984 that “Wonderful Christmastime” was recognized by the US Billboard music charts. It first became a number ten hit on its Christmas Singles chart that year before becoming a number twenty-nine hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart. In 2018, it finally cracked into the US Billboard Hot 100 at number forty-seven. In 2021, it performed even better at number twenty-eight.
Although many critics regard “Wonderful Christmastime” as one of McCartney’s weaker compositions, it was popular enough to become certified double platinum by the UK’s British Phonographic Industry. It also became certified platinum in Denmark, as well as gold in Australia, Germany, and New Zealand.
#8 - Run Rudolph Run (performed by Chuck Berry)
“Run Rudolph Run” was recorded by the legendary Chuck Berry and then released in December 1958 by Chess Records. The songwriting credits recognized Johnny Marks as the title character behind the song came from his classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Berry’s first release of this song became a number sixty-nine hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 during the 1958 holiday season.
In 2019, Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” became a number forty-five hit on the same music chart, proving this was a seasonal classic destined for greatness. In 2021, it peaked even higher on the same chart at number ten.
#7 - Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (performed by Brenda Lee)
Written by Johnny Marks, then recorded by Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” was a 1958 release that quickly became an all-time seasonal classic. With over fifteen million copies of this song sold around the world, it rightfully earned its place as an inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2019.
Technically, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is a rockabilly number but also holds its ground as a classic rock favorite with number one chart rankings on the Canadian Hot 100 and the US Billboard Hot 100. In sales, Lee’s original has become one of the biggest-selling rockin’ Christmas singles of all time with nearly ten million copies sold worldwide. It was certified platinum five times with the RIAA, three times in the UK, and twice in New Zealand. It also became single platinum in Denmark, Greece, Italy, and Portugal. In Germany and Spain, it was certified gold.
This gentle rocker has been a holiday favorite for classic rock radio stations and Christmas parties ever since it was first released over sixty years ago. It’s a timeless classic that brings out the best traits that make the holiday season so special, especially for music fans who love its festive charm.
#6 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (performed by Darlene Love)
Written by the songwriting team of Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” was originally performed by Darlene Love in 1963 for the seasonal compilation album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. When this song was first released as a single, it didn’t quite catch on as a big hit.
Over time, several iconic recording songs have recorded their versions of what has become a Christmas pop classic. Those artists include Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, Cher, and U2. Since then, Love’s original “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” has peaked as high as number seven on the US Billboard Holiday 100 chart and at number fifteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also sold enough copies to become certified platinum three times with the Recording Industry Association of America, as well as platinum with the UK’s BPI.
#5 - Christmas Time (performed by Bryan Adams)
“Christmas Time” was written by the dynamic duo, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. When it was released in 1985, it was on a green vinyl with a picture sleeve. As for a music video for the song, this didn’t come about until December 2019. Especially among Canadians and Europeans, “Christmas Time” is one of the most requested seasonal favorites on the radio. The single became certified platinum by Music Canada. Among the nations of Denmark, Germany, and Poland, it was certified gold.
“Christmas Time” also became a number thirty-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a number thirty-nine hit on the Canada Top Singles Chart the year it was released as a single. It was especially popular in Norway as it peaked as high as number two. As recently as 2022, this charming classic performed by Bryan Adams has been hitting the music charts, mainly among European Nations as they seem especially drawn to a fantastic performance by Adams that sounds magical.
The beauty behind the lyrics was the desire for the Christmas spirit to last for more than just a short season. Instead of focusing on commercialism, Adams seemed to pour his heart out that the magic of Christmas should exist every single day. Putting love and compassion first without expectations is what brings out the best in people. “Christmas Time” beautifully highlights this and why it’s a genuine classic rock holiday classic.
#4 - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (performed by John Lennon)
If there was one iconic rock song that established itself as a seasonal classic, it’s John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas.” At the time, John Lennon and Yoko Ono collaborated on a song that focused on the Vietnam War. However, the emotional impact of this song has become a Christmas staple as perhaps one of the seasonal favorites played by classic rock stations around the world.
Released in 1971, Lennon performed with the Harlem Community Choir as a song that had two purposes. In addition to serving as a Christmas song, it also sang in protest against the Vietnam War. The lyrics for “Happy Xmas” start with whispered Christmas greetings from Lennon to his son, Julian, and from Ono to her daughter, Kyoko before going into one of the most powerful ballads about Christmas written in rock music history.
Among the nations of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the UK, “Happy Xmas” was a top ten hit, peaking as high as number two on the UK Singles Chart. On the US Billboard Holiday 100, it charted as high as number nine. This seasonal favorite has been certified platinum in Germany, Italy, and New Zealand. It became double platinum in Australia, Denmark, and the UK. In Japan, Portugal, and the US, “Happy Xmas” became certified gold.
When John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas” was first released, many radio stations were reluctant at first to play it as they didn’t want Christmas music to interrupt their regular programming. However, Lennon’s single became one of the most popular clean through the 1970s and has since carried on a legacy with a strong message about what Christmas is supposed to be about.
#3 - Last Christmas (performed by Wham!)
George Michael was twenty-one years old when he wrote “Last Christmas” in 1983. It was recorded and released as a Wham! single December 1984. Upon its release, it became a number two hit on the UK Singles Chart. This came at the same time Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was released and its ground at number one. However, in 2021 it became a number-one hit after making yet another entry on the same music chart.
“Last Christmas” has also been a number-one hit on music charts belonging to Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden. On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Last Christmas” peaked as high as number four. On the Global 200 music chart, it peaked as high as number two. In sales, “Last Christmas” was certified multi-platinum in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Today, “Last Christmas” has become one of the most cherished favorites by music fans each time the holiday season rolls around. Heartbroken about a love that didn’t go as well the previous Christmas, Michaels sang with a determination that his next choice would be with someone special.
#2 - Do They Know It’s Christmas? (performed by Band Aid)
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was a seasonally-themed charity song written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure with the intent to have it recorded by a star-studded cast. In 1984, Band Aid was formed as a supergroup that featured an impressive collection of British and Irish recording artists. These included the most popular acts at the time, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Genesis, and U2. When listening to the song, the distinct voices of Paul Young, Boy George, George Michael, Bono, Sting, and Ozzy Osbourne are among the few that stand out as each chimed in with their performances.
When “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was released on December 3, 1984, it quickly became a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart. In the first week alone, it sold over one million copies, becoming the fastest-selling single in the nation’s history. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number thirteen hit despite the lack of airplay it received at first. Since then, it has become one of the best-selling Christmas-themed singles of all time.
The 1989, 2004, and 2014 remakes of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” also became number one hits on the UK Singles Chart but nothing beats the original. What “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” started was a legacy that led Canada and the United States to come up with their star-studded musical casts to pick up where Geldoff and Band Aid left off. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” led to the July 13, 1985 multivenue concert, Live Aid. Linked by satellite, an audience of nearly forty percent of the world’s population from over one hundred countries tuned in to watch their favorite legends perform.
The original “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” holds its ground as the all-time rockin’ favorite among music fans each time the holiday season kicks into gear. It serves as a reminder that nothing should ever be taken for granted. As many embrace the blessings that come with Christmas, there are just as many who are forced to go without due to circumstances beyond their control. Many regard Christmas as a discriminatory holiday but nothing can be further from the truth. The true meaning behind Christmas is to count your blessings and give back to those who are less fortunate.
#1 - We All Need Christmas (performed by Def Leppard)
Def Leppard’s “We All Need Christmas” was written by bass guitarist Rick Savage and sung as an acoustic rock ballad by Joe Elliott. It was a wonderful song pointing out to let the past stay in the past, live for today, and look forward to a promising tomorrow. It made its first release as a standalone single in October 2018 that was available for digital purchasing and streaming platforms.
“We All Need Christmas” is a Christmas rock classic in the making. It was also included as a bonus track on The Story So Far - The Best of Def Leppard. Although it didn’t make any chart appearances, it did serve as a reminder that the spirit of Christmas is about following your heart and letting love breathe enough to move you forward with a positive attitude.
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