The Best Christmas Playlist Ever: Classics

 [Free desktop background from Hey, It's Christmas! Vol. 3. This post needed an image and it's just so pretty!]

I have quite a bit of Christmas music. I get more albums, more artists, more singles, every year. It ranges from classic carols by Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley, to originals from bands I've never heard of. This year, I will save you all the trouble I put myself through of searching through the hundreds of Christmas albums on iTunes, looking for just the right versions of just the right songs. I have compiled what I like to think of as the ultimate Christmas music list, divided into classics and originals.

My list of classics covers all the best Christmas songs that we've heard over our lives. I have chosen, in my humble opinion, the very best version of these songs. If, unlike me, you don't feel the need to have up to 10 different versions of a Christmas song on your Christmas playlist, then you're looking for that one perfect version to satisfy your holiday ears. And that's what I've got here for you. Get yourself a cup of hot apple cider, sit down, and have a listen.

(FYI: The song titles link to the song's Wikipedia page, so you can learn more about the original songs and all the covers. If you're interested in that kind of thing. I am.)

***Update: Grooveshark no longer exists, so there's no playlist to listen to here, but you can find all these songs on iTunes to listen to!

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone
If you've seen Elf, you've heard this song in the end credits. Other covers of this song are too fast or too silly or two voices that just don't go well together. Zooey's unique, deep (for a female) voice combined with the incredibly deep voice of Leon Redbone, make this a beautiful song that I am always happy to sing along to, year round.

Santa Baby - Kylie Minogue
Aside from, perhaps, the girls dancing to Jingle Bell Rock in Mean Girls, this is the only Christmas song that is also quite sexy. Maybe it's because Kylie Minogue performed the song like this, but this is another Christmas song that I don't hesitate to sing along to any time of year. (I also secretly dream of somehow being able to perform this song at some sort of Christmas karaoke party.)
I know a lot of people are quite attached to Mariah Carrey singing this, her original song, but I fell in love with the song after watching Love Actually, so I got this version of the lovely little girl from the movie singing it. And it's great. Sorry, Mariah.

Baby, Please Come Home - KT Tunstall
There are a few versions of this song that I enjoy, but I had to choose this as my favorite. It's a little bit rock n' roll, and definitely fun to sing and dance to.

Auld Lang Syne - Various Artists
I can't even list all the artists on this track, but they all come together to create a beautiful song. I chose this version because I find it the easiest to sing along to, which is essential for this song as you must sing it right after yelling "Happy New Year!"

Sleigh Ride - Karmin
Oh, boy, am I glad this song came out this year. Sorry, KT Tunstall, but it kicked your version out of first place. Karmin brings their fun pop/dance style to this upbeat Christmas song. Trombones, rapping, "giddy up"s. Click here to watch their music video and follow the links to download the song for free!

Silent Night - Taylor Swift
This is a tricky song to cover, I think. Some people try to change it up too much, making it too upbeat, to which I say "Calm down! It's Silent Night! Shhh!" or they just do yet another unoriginal Silent Night. Yawn. My girl Tay Tay, however, changes up the original melody, to make it interesting while still keeping it a beautiful, soulful song for the holidays.

Blue Christmas - Gift Horse
I'm not generally a big fan of Blue Christmas and similar "Boo hoo, I'm alone for Christmas" sad Christmas songs because Christmas is all about the holly jolly merriment for me. However, I love this cover as it's not too blue, and Katie's unique voice is a delight to the ears. You may know Katie from her blog Skunkboy Creatures. Click here to listen to the song and read her description of making it.

Feliz Navidad - Boney M
Possibly my favorite Christmas song ever. Yes, really. It's the most fun and festive of all! I love the whole album, actually. It's reggae meets 70's disco meets Christmas and I love it! Trust me, you will be dancing around your home singing along like I've been doing everyday.

Carol of the Bells - The Bird and the Bee
I have fond memories of playing this song in music class in high school. I played the flute and I remember quickly moving my fingers to their positions to hit the high, quick notes of this song. I love it. However, I've only ever enjoyed instrumental versions before. Adding the lyrics always sounded weird as words seemed squished into the fast-paced melody. However, The Bird and the Bee have done the impossible and created a version, with vocals, that I actually enjoy. It's not exactly traditional, but I get to enjoy one of my favorite melodies in a special way.
This version was my first time hearing this song, and I thought it was a Glee original! Turns out, it's not, but this is still my favorite version. It's fun, it's quick, and they don't change any lyrics to confuse me (Spice Girls, I'm looking at you!). Now, if only I could keep up when I try to sing/rap along with it.
I love, love, love The Nutcracker music. I have the entire suite in my Christmas playlist, but I think we all agree that Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is our favorite song from The Nutcracker. I really enjoy his badass take on this fairy melody. (P.S. Jack Conte is one half of Pomplamoose!)
Don't recognize the title as a Christmas classic? Well, Glee did what Glee does best; a mash-up. Deck the Halls meets Up on the Rooftop is this fun, danceable song. Seriously. You'll dance to it. You'll clap to it. You'll love it.
FInally, a modern version of this Christmas hymn that I can get into. This needs to be a powerful song, and these guys nail it. They also manage to slip a few lines of their own song "Calling All Angels" in there, but I'll forgive them because it actually works with this song.

Winter Wonderland - Jason Mraz
A cheery Christmas song that I've always enjoyed, but Jason Mraz takes the cheer up a notch and in a fun guitar pickin', scattin' kind of way. A change from the traditional without being annoying. A rare feat amongst Christmas music.
Although I enjoy all kinds of Christmas songs, sometimes it's the very religious ones that I can't get into. I know it's "the reason for the season" (Believe me, I know. Grew up in church.) But Christmas is just about the non-religious holiday cheer for me now. I make an exception for this song, really just this version, because I love the melody so much. I just wish I had any whistling talents so I could really sing along to the whole song. This song was released as part of Hey! It's Christmas! Vol. 2 last year. You can download all three volumes for free here.

Happy XMas - Vanessa Carlton
We've had many covers of this song over the years, to the point that I tend to skip over it when it comes up in my iTunes. (Especially the Sarah McLachlan version. Remember those sad World Vision commercials?) However, this version is substantially less annoying to me. I love Vanessa's voice and the overall softness she gives to the song.
Are you ready to rock? This is the only version of this song I actually enjoy. All the ra-pa-pum-pumming gets annoying really quickly. But not in this unique, groovy, hardcore cover. Okay, so it won't exactly get you in the Christmas spirit with jingle bells sounds, but it's a Christmas song and it's awesome. This song was released on the Christmas with The Salads & Friends album. You can listen to it here.

O Holy Night - Glee
What a beautiful song. Yes, it's very religious, but it's so amazing to listen to. If done right. I'm not 100% sure that this is really the ultimate version for this song, but it's the best I've heard so far. You can't do this song if you can't really belt it out and give me goosebumps when you hit that "fall on your knees". Lea Michelle does a pretty good job. This is one Christmas song that you can't mess with. It needs to remain classic.

White Christmas - Katy Perry
If you take away her crazy costumes and pop beats, this girl has such a beautiful, almost gritty voice. While this song can sometimes be upbeat, Katy slows it down. Without becoming boring.