17 criminally underrated festive bangers that deserve your attention this Christmas
Stop sleeping on these ho ho ho hits!
I love Christmas music with all my heart and soul. Some songs I love so much that I will even forgo the societal conventions that insist you only enjoy them from late November through December. I’m a sucker for it all – the melodies, the nostalgia, the undeniable presence of a jingly bell. But what annoys me a lot about Christmas music is a traditionalist approach, a gatekeeping, that refuses to allow the new Christmas bangers into regular circulation. Only a few make it through the crack – Kelly’s Underneath The Tree, Ariana’s Santa Tell Me, Leona’s One More Sleep – but what about the other hidden gems? I’ve got you covered. Here are the best underrated Christmas songs that you need to get you through the season.
Christmas Time by Christina Aguilera
The opening track of Xtina’s My Kind Of Christmas festive album is one that deserves to be a stone cold classic. It perfectly balances samples of traditional fa-la-las with the most 00s production imaginable, echoing Britney and N Sync. Her vocals are perfect and it’s an essential for your playlists.
Christmas Tree Farm by Taylor Swift
I do think this song is on the rise year on year every Christmas, and as it bloody should be. Taylor Swift really is the best we have in the industry, and Christmas Tree Farm is nothing but a joy. Swift was raised on an actual Christmas tree farm, so the subject matter is close to her heart and you really feel that familiarity in the tune. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the way it builds is euphoric. I love that shouty middle eight bit, feels like being in a full pub with your mates. This deserves what Fairytale Of New York has. End of.
Glittery by Kacey Musgraves and Troye Sivan
A stunning little original duet from The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show in 2019 – Glittery is a perfect little country Christmas number. Troye and Kacey sound gorgeous together, the harmonies are delicious and it’s a nice soft jewel in the mix where the songs can be brash.
Heading North For Christmas by Rae Morris
Perhaps a personal one, as someone from the north who does indeed head there for Christmas, but Blackpool native Rae Morris really captures that journey home from the big city so magically that I find it extremely moving. It’s the little details in this one – the Welcome Break, the M6 toll, waving to Grandma, pissing in a bottle on the motorway. We’ve all been there.
Ho Ho Ho Ho by Willam
Okay, slight tonal whiplash on this one, but if you’re on board for some filthy Christmas bangers it doesn’t get much better, boppier or ruder than Drag Race icon Willam’s Christmas rap banger Ho Ho Ho Ho. If you can’t fuse sex and Christmas perhaps this one isn’t for you, but if you want a raunchy banger round your Christmas tree then here we are. Play it for your nan over Christmas dinner.
Sad Sad Girl by Terror Jr
If you like your Christmas tunes chirpy with dark lyrical content, then here you are. Autotuned Terror Jr signature vocals (remember when everyone thought their lead singer was Kylie Jenner? Lmao) singing about Santa going to glory holes. If my Christmas isn’t like that then why even bother? A dark jewel in the canon of the best underrated Christmas songs.
This Time Last Year by Rina Sawayama
A departure from Rina’s signature maximalist bangers, This Time Last Year is a delicate and wistful ballad with her spectacular vocals belting to the high heavens. It’s excellent – modern and traditional at the same time and is the kind of track that really would have gotten radio play if Rina was a bigger artist when she dropped it.
Santa’s Comin’ Down The Chimney by Confidence Man
Australia’s indie dance duo Confidence Man are in my opinion one of the most exciting acts releasing music in the industry right now, and their entry to the best Christmas music bangers canon is one that defines underrated. The production? CRACKLING! “Santa asked me what I want I said I want a beat” is an instantly dance worthy lyric, Janet Planet’s dry deadpan vocal delivery is so wry and the whole thing is sublime. Listen to it right now!
I Won’t Be Home For Christmas by Poppy
Not to be confused with the Blink-182 song of the same name, Poppy’s bitter take on a festive tune acted as the lead single for her festive EP that she dropped last year. It’s quite magical, her frosty robotic vocals doing all the work to make Christmas a more sinister place.
Stopped Believing in Santa by MNEK
MNEK remains an underrated presence in music and that continues in the world of Christmas songs, because this is one of the best modern entries. If you love Little Mix you can’t NOT love this festive excellence. Bops and weaves along with a gorgeous throwback R&B vibe coupled with Mariah-esque vocal runs.
All I Want For Christmas Is A Work Email by Self Esteem
Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s Christmas song has everything you come to expect from her stellar and unique music – gospel vocals, bitingly sharp lyrics and a vocal performance that has you wowing from start to fin. But this time with festive sheen! There’s a sarcastic sting to Self Esteem’s music that’s covered in warmth and this is one of my favourite songs by her. A gentle Christmas wow.
Loneliest Time Of The Year by Mabel
Written by Little Mix super duo MNEK and KAMILLE along with Mabel herself, this needy Christmas mid tempo is the anthem you need if you spend your December wishing you got cuffed for the festive period. Mabel’s vocals soar on this, and the style just really suits her. Huge sleeper hit potential in the UK.
Sympathy For The Grinch by 100 gecs
100 gecs’ abrasive, futuristic, hyperpop genre fusion isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan there’s so much fun to be had with their ridiculous Christmas banger. Great title aside, its got an incredibly catchy melody and about four choruses that all hit a bit harder than the last. Rock chick Christmas is a-GO!
Christmas Without You by Ava Max
Who is making pop music as infectious as Ava Max? Pretty much nobody. Out of all the songs on this list of the best underrated Christmas songs, its Christmas Without You that has the Santa Tell Me-esque power that makes me think it should be massive. It’s wonderfully sang, has a familiar feel to it on your first listen and sits very comfortably in Ava Max’s meticulously crafted catalogue of pop bangers.
It’s Not Christmas Til Somebody Cries by Carly Rae Jepsen
Coming from a household of Christmas arguers, Carly’s 2020 Christmas addition is one that rang very true. “Every year we sing a little song to survive / It’s not Christmas ’til somebody cries” is a great lyric to build a festive jingle around and I think that even though people received this quite lukewarmly last year, it deserves a lot more praise and love. It’s a blast.
New Year’s Eve by MØ
Is a New Year’s Eve ode a Christmas song? I’m declaring YES. I have this little ritual with myself where I will listen to New Year’s Eve by MØ before I go out and party and then when I wake up on January 1st the first thing I do is listen to is New Year’s Day by Taylor Swift. It’s very full circle. New Year’s Eve bristles with anticipation and promise and absolutely adore it.
New Year by Sugababes
Music peaked when Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan released their first album One Touch, and their second single kind of flew under the radar. But it’s a Christmas classic. End of. It’s got the perfect Sugababes vocals written by the babes themselves and Cameron McVey (Mabel’s dad), it mourns a break-up that happened a year ago at Christmas. If these vocals and harmonies were the only gift I got for Christmas I’d be grateful. One of the best and most underrated Christmas songs.