What’s the Most Popular Christmas Song of All Time?


Image of a Christmas tree with ornaments.

Christmas tree – Author Charles Ken, Photo via Freestocks on Unsplash

Christmas is just a few days away, and it’s impossible to avoid Christmas music right now. I actually heard Christmas music being played back in October. That’s a bit early for my taste, but to each their own. Each year, a bevy of new holiday songs and albums arrive, and this year is no exception. From Mark Tremonti of Creed and Alter Bridge to Brandy, a wide range of musicians have released Christmas music this year. But, what’s the most popular Christmas song of all time?

It’s a complicated question, because the way we track music sales has changed over the years. Before March 1, 1991, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) tracked music sales in the U.S. But, since then, the Nielsen SoundScan tracking system has been the go-to source for tracking album and single sales. Then, digital music download sales started in 2003.

If we look at the best-selling Christmas singles using Nielsen SoundScan data as of 2016, the more recent metric, No. 1 on the list is Mariah Carey with “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” I was really hoping for a classic to be No. 1. But, since these Nielsen numbers start in 1991, it makes sense that a more modern Christmas song would be at the top of the list. No. 2 is “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” by Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee Monn and Katie Lopez. Then, No. 3 is “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” by Savatage, although this song is now credited to the famed Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which featured all Savatage members. Justin Bieber with “Mistletoe” and Brenda Lee with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” round out the top five, respectively.

But, if you look at Christmas songs throughout the years, songs such as “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley with “Blue Christmas”/ “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” would likely be higher on the tally than the modern hits.

So, what are the most popular Christmas songs of 2023? Spotify recently released its list of the biggest holiday songs of the season. Spotify’s “Instant Classics” are the most-streamed globally for Christmas songs that were released in the past five years. That list includes five very familiar tunes: “Merry Christmas” by Ed Sheeran and Elton John; “Santa, Can’t You Hear Me” by Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson; “Christmas Tree Farm” by Taylor Swift; “Like It’s Christmas” by The Jonas Brothers; and “Winter Wonderland — Spotify Singles” by Laufey.

What about the most popular Christmas songs that weren’t released in the past five years? Those are part of Spotify’s “Soundtrack of the Season.” This year’s tracks are “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey; “Last Christmas” by Wham!; “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee; “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms; and “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande.

Similarly, YouTube has a Christmas playlist out with their biggest songs of 2023. No. 1 is, yes, Mariah Carey with “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” It’s followed by “Last Christmas” by Wham! and “Snowman” by Sia. Find Audio Ink Radio’s list of brand new Christmas songs released in 2023 here.

Charles Ken
Posted by Charles Ken | Music, Rock News