The holiday season brings many enduring traditions, but one that’s pretty much impossible to ignore is the (depending on how you look at it) onslaught or blessing of constant Christmas and snow tunes!
And these days, while there are plenty of folks who’ll be firing up the record player or smartphone to share their personal collections, one of the most popular ways to listen to holiday tunes is on Spotify, which helpfully shared its top 25 most-streamed holiday songs of all time with TODAY.
“What strikes me most about the list is it shows how much listeners still love the classics year after year, but are also embracing the newer music that comes along,” Shanon Cook, Spotify head of global culture and trends communication, wrote in an email. “There aren’t too many music categories where you’ll see both Ariana Grande and Elvis Presley among the top spots.”
Still, while artists regularly release new holiday fare each year, much of the top 25 is full of classic hits, including some whose versions date back to the mid-20th century. Says Cook, “A successful holiday song is one that evokes some sort of atmosphere, whether it’s comfort, coziness, the thrill of being reunited with family and friends, or longing to see someone you love.”
So cozy on up to the one you love and get ready for these songs to fill both home and heart with the joy of the season!
1. Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
Co-written by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff and recorded by Carey in 1994, the song has charted every holiday season since its original release. The celebrity-packed video was released last year in time for the song’s 25th anniversary.
2. Wham! “Last Christmas”
The song was written by George Michael and performed by Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in 1984, and the band donated all royalties to help alleviate the Ethiopian famine in Africa. Cook knows that while it’s “not the cheeriest of songs,” they’ve counted around 100 covers of the classic since, well, last Christmas, and there are around 1,200 interpretations of the track on the service.
3. Ariana Grande, “Santa Tell Me”
Grande, who co-wrote the song with Savan Kotecha and Ilya, first performed it in 2014 on “A Very Grammy Christmas Special” concert in Los Angeles, which aired on CBS.
4. Michael Bublé, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”
Streamers just love their Bublé, whose music has a big, orchestral, retro feel. This is the first of three songs by the performer, with this tune coming from his 2011 “Christmas” album.
5. Justin Bieber, “Mistletoe”
Featured on the former teen dream’s 2011 album “Under the Mistletoe,” the song just missed the Top 10 in the U.S. but did quite well elsewhere in the world.
6. Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
The song was first recorded by Andy Williams in 1963.
7. Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
Rock ‘n’ roll was still a new genre in 1958, which made the notion of rockin’ around that old tree fairly inventive. By 2008, the song’s 50th anniversary, it had sold over 25 million copies.
8. Bobby Helms, “Jingle Bell Rock”
Released in 1967, the song made early references to rock ‘n’ roll, which was still a new form in that era, and references other popular songs like “Rock Around the Clock.”
9. Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984)
The song was recorded in a single day in 1984 by a supergroup of (largely) British musicians to raise money for famine relief; it sold over 1 million copies in its first week of release.
10. Frank Sinatra (feat. B. Swanson Quartet), “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
The song, penned during a heat wave, hit No. 1 in 1946 with a recording by Vaughn Monroe.
11. John Lennon & Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
The melody for this anti-war holiday classic from 1971 is based on an 18th century ballad about a racehorse named Skewball.
12. Bing Crosby, John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra, Ken Darby Singers, “White Christmas”
Originally performed in 1941 on Bing Crosby’s NBC show “The Kraft Music Hall,” the song went on to sell over 100 million copies, and has an opening verse rarely heard that refers to being in the Beverly Hills, California, sun.
13. José Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad”
Sung partially in Spanish, Feliciano’s 1970 hit didn’t hit the Billboard charts until over two decades after it was released, hitting No. 70 in 1998. In 2017 it reentered the charts, landing at No. 44.
14. Michael Bublé, “Holly Jolly Christmas”
One of the best-known renditions of this song is Burl Ives’ contribution from the 1964 Christmas special, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” That shows up on the list at No. 22, but Bublé made the classic his own in 2014.
15. Chris Rea, “Driving Home for Christmas”
Orchestral, jovial and old-fashioned, Rea’s 1986 song regularly makes the top 40 in the U.K., where it’s considered one of the top holiday singles of all time. It appeared on the musician’s album “New Light Through Old Windows.”
16. Nat King Cole, “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)”
Also known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or “Merry Christmas to You,” Bob Wells and Mel Tormé wrote the song in 1945 during a hot summer spell, and the Nat King Cole Trio first recorded it in 1946.
17. Paul McCartney, “Wonderful Christmastime”
The former Beatle recorded this holiday single entirely on his own and released it in 1979.
18. Sam Smith, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
The song first appeared in “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1944, with Judy Garland singing; Frank Sinatra also recorded a version with some changes in 1957. Smith tackled it in 2014.
19. Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas”
Several artists recorded the song by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson from 1948 to 1956, but it was Elvis Presley’s crooning that turned it into a classic in 1957.
20. Kelly Clarkson, “Underneath the Tree”
Written and performed by “American Idol” winner Clarkson, “Tree” appeared on her first Christmas album, “Wrapped in Red,” from 2013.
21. Coldplay, “Christmas Lights”
While still writing the song in December 2008, singer Chris Martin played part of it during a “60 Minutes” interview. The tune was released officially through the band’s website in 2010; a 10th anniversary version of the tune is expected to be out on Dec. 4.
22. Burl Ives, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
Ives wasn’t the first to record the song; that honor went to The Quinto Sisters in 1964.
23. Shakin’ Stevens, “Merry Christmas Everyone”
Like Rea, Michael Barratt, aka “Shakin’ Stevens,” is better known across the pond than in the U.S., but that hasn’t kept fans from keeping the veteran singer’s 1985 holiday paean in the charts. It was initially to be released in 1984, but Stevens’ record label didn’t want to compete with Band-Aid’s charity single (see above).
24. Michael Bublé, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
Though the song reaches back to 1934 and has been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen, this version from 2011 pumps up the big band and jazzy flair.
25. The Ronettes, “Sleigh Ride”
The classic snow tune debuted as an orchestral tune in 1949, then had lyrics added in 1950, but it was the Ronettes who made it a big hit, starting in 1963. It regularly charts in the Top 10 and was the group’s second-highest chart hit after “Be My Baby.”
Can’t get enough about holiday hits? Then be sure to check out the latest episode of the Spotify podcast, which features Dolly Parton, called “Holiday Music: It’s (Already) Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas.”
And if you’re looking for a longer list of holiday-centered fare, dive into TODAY’s Top 50 list from 2018, which includes classic hits, pop tunes, kids’ holiday songs, iconic duets and some seriously offbeat music!
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:
Scarlett Johansson Gets Slimed by Colin Jost While Accepting MTV’s Generation Award – NBC4 Washington
The 36-year-old “Black Widow” star accepted the Generation Award with a pre-taped segment that aired during the awards ceremony on Sunday. She began her acceptance speech by thanking her co-workers from throughout her career, in addition to expressing appreciation for her fans.
“I never would have been able to continue to evolve as an actor for the last 30 years without the support and dedication of so many cast and crew members that make up the nomadic traveling-circus family that are movie sets, and the dedication and hard work of so many people that goes into making any movie continues to inspire me as a performer,” Johansson said.
“Thank you so much to my fans for riding the wave with me and for supporting my career so I can continue to have the good fortune to pursue the job that is my passion,” she continued. “I realize what an absolute gift it is to be able to have the opportunity to do what I love, and I couldn’t do it without your continued support.”
Things got wild as Johansson was in the process of introducing a previously unseen clip from “Black Widow” when Jost walked over to her in their home and poured a bowl of green slime over her head.
“What the f—?” Johansson said.
“MTV! You got slimed,” Jost responded.
After the “Rough Night” actress explained that the 38-year-old “Saturday Night Live” star was thinking of Nickelodeon, he replied, “I’m very, very sorry.”
She fired back, “Just get a towel,” and then wouldn’t let him attempt to dab her face with it.
In introducing the star prior to the segment, Billy Porter quipped, “She’s the only Oscar nominee I know who can bench press more than Chris Hemsworth and look hotter doing it.”
Earlier this month, a press release announced Johansson would receive the award.
“The highly coveted ‘Generation Award’ celebrates beloved actors whose diverse contributions to both film and television have turned them into household names,” the statement said in part.
Prior to the Generation Award, Johansson had been nominated for six MTV Movie & TV Awards prizes over the years. She nabbed the golden popcorn in 2013 for “Best Fight” for “The Avengers.”
NowThis Editor Versha Sharma to Take Over at Teen Vogue After Controversy Over Previous Pick – NBC4 Washington
Teen Vogue has chosen Versha Sharma, a top editor at NowThis, to replace Alexi McCammond as editor-in-chief after a swirl of controversy over McCammond’s past anti-Asian tweets.
Sharma takes over May 24 at the digital-only publication after McCammond and the Condé Nast title parted ways before her appointment took effect.
“I am incredibly excited and grateful for this awesome opportunity,” Sharma tweeted of Monday’s announcement.
Anna Wintour, the global editorial director of Vogue and chief content officer for Condé Nast, said in a statement that Sharma is a “natural leader” with a “global perspective and deep understanding of local trends and issues — from politics and activism to culture and fashion.”
Sharma was named managing editor of NowThis, a digital news site, in 2015. In 2012, she covered the U.S. presidential election for MSNBC.com. She is the recipient of an Edward R. Murrow award with the NowThis Reports team for a short documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and she’s on the board of directors of the Online News Association.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Sharma grew up in Louisiana and lives in New York.
McCammond, who is Black, was tapped in March at age 27 as the incoming editor in chief to replace Lindsay Peoples Wagner, but derogatory tweets from when she was a teenager and college student in 2011 caused a backlash after the appointment was announced.
Sharma said in the statement issued by Teen Vogue that she has long admired the magazine for “building and fostering a community of young people who want to change the world.”
John Mulaney and Wife Anna Marie Tendler Break Up After 6 Years of Marriage – NBC4 Washington
After more than six years of marriage, comedian John Mulaney and wife Anna Marie Tendler are splitting up.
Individual reps for each party confirmed the news in a statement to Page Six on Monday. E! News has reached out to reps for comment.
“I am heartbroken that John has decided to end our marriage,” Tendler expressed through her spokesperson. “I wish him support and success as he continues his recovery.”
A spokesperson for Mulaney also confirmed the news of the divorce to the outlet and added, “John will not have any further comment as he continues to focus on his recovery and getting back to work.”
The “Big Mouth” actor and accomplished artist tied the knot in July 2014 in Boiceville, New York. Friend and “Schitt’s Creek” actor Dan Levy served as the couple’s officiant at their wedding.
The 38-year-old comedian completed a stint in rehab in December 2020, where he stayed for 60 days to treat issues relating to cocaine and alcohol addiction. He moved to outpatient care in February 2021.
Mulaney has been open when it comes to discussing his struggles with addiction, most notably in a 2019 interview with Esquire.
“I drank for attention,” he shared with the magazine. “I was really outgoing, and then at twelve, I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to act. And then I was drinking, and I was hilarious again.”
The “Saturday Night Live” alum is set to officially return to work on the comedy circuit after completing outpatient care — booking four mid-May shows at the New York City venue City Winery. Tickets for those shows are sold out.
Tendler, for her part, is pursuing a Master of Arts degree from NYU Steinhardt in fashion and textile studies.
Los Angeles Lakers Nine-Part Docuseries Coming to Hulu in 2022 – NBC4 Washington
Los Angeles Lakers Nine-Part Docuseries Coming to Hulu in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Los Angeles Lakers are getting their own version of “The Last Dance.”
A nine-part docuseries on the Lakers will be coming to Hulu in 2022, the team announced on Monday. Unlike ESPN’s highly popular “The Last Dance” — which centered around Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls — this series will detail the last four decades of the Lakers. That includes everything from Jerry Buss purchasing the organization, to Magic Johnson and the “Showtime” Lakers, to the Shaq-and-Kobe dynasty, to LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the team to its latest championship last season.
Those are some rather compelling Hollywood storylines.
The series will include new interviews with more than 35 members of the Lakers organization, including Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as never-before-seen interviews with the late Jerry Buss. It will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, whose Muhammad Ali documentary “What’s My Name?” won a Sports Emmy for outstanding long documentary.
“When Dr. Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, he sat alone at center court of the Forum and thought of all the possibilities,” Lakers CEO Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “But even in his wildest dreams, my father could not have imagined what the next decades would bring for our organization, our league and our city of Los Angeles. I am thrilled that the true story of the Lakers will finally be shared with the world — and that we are in such capable hands with Hulu and Antoine, a director whose storytelling I’ve admired for years.”
The 1980s Lakers will also be the subject of a drama series on HBO, with a cast that includes John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Adrien Brody as Pat Riley, Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson and Sally Field as Jessie Buss.
Mike Gavin contributed to this story
Miss Mexico Andrea Meza Crowned Miss Universe 2021 – NBC4 Washington
And we have a new Miss Universe.
After more than a year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Miss Universe competition was finally held Sunday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Mario Lopez and former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, who won the crown in 2012, co-hosted the show, which featured a special performance by Luis Fonsi.
Taking home the ultimate crown this year was Miss Mexico Andrea Meza, who wowed the selection community with her beauty and brains.
During the final statement round, Miss Mexico was asked to address the topic of changing beauty standards.
“We live in a society that more and more is more advanced and as we have advanced as a society, we have advanced with stereotypes,” she shared via translator. “Nowadays, beauty is not only the way we look. For me, beauty radiates not only in our spirits, but in our hearts and the way we conduct ourselves. Never permit someone to tell you that you are not valuable.”
And just minutes before, Miss Mexico also faced the final question round where she was asked to share how she would have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe there is not a perfect way to handle this hard situation such as COVID-19,” she said. “However, I believe that what I would have done, was create the lockdown even before everything was that big because we lost so many lives and we cannot afford that. We have to take care of our people. That’s why I would have taken care of them since the beginning.”
Before the show, Paula M. Shugart, who serves as the president of the Miss Universe Organization, addressed the pandemic and how the pageant was staying safe.
“We have spent months planning and preparing safety precautions to develop this edition of Miss Universe – one that will be memorable, special and totally innovative,” she said in a statement.
Beauty queens from 74 countries and territories competed in the pageant, however just 21 contestants advanced to the final round. After first competing in the swimsuit contest, which you can see photos from here, 10 moved on to the evening gown competition. Five contestants were selected to participate in the question and answer round.
The last time the Miss Universe pageant was held was in 2019, when Miss South Africa, aka Zozibini Tunzi, took home the ultimate prize. Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson was the first runner-up and Miss Mexico Sofa Aragn was the second runner-up.
At the time, Tunzi really impressed the judges with her answer to the question, “What is the most important thing we should be teaching girls today?”
She replied, “I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time. Not because we don’t want to, but because what society has labelled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world.”
Of passing the torch to her successor, Tunzi said in a statement, “I always knew that my reign as Miss Universe would be unlike any other. While it was nothing like what I had imagined my year to be, this year has opened doors for me I could never have imagined.I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect virtually with people all over the world and elevate the causes I care most about.”