A complete review of 10 classic holiday songs

It’s that time of the year! Members of The Lasso’s Features section review some of the most popular and classic holiday songs. (As you read, try to discern which writer is which: there’s an extremely opinionated Winter enthusiast, a Christmas fanatic, a Taylor Swift lover, and an avid holiday music hater.)

Justin Bieber wrote and sang “Mistletoe,” which was released on his Christmas album Under the Mistletoe in 2011. We rate it at an average of 3 stars.


Elizabeth: With the perfect Christmas love song, Justin Bieber pulls us in and takes us along on a magical ride. It was with this song that I knew I was a Belieber. If you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with Justin Bieber and his Christmas melody, I encourage you to dive into the “Mistletoe” experience. ★★★★★

Emma: If you are like Stella and have never listened to this work of art since last week, I’m very disappointed. You can’t help releasing your inner Belieber with this blessing to Christmas music everywhere. This song will most definitely be stuck in your head until at least February, and that is something to not be ashamed of. ★★★★★

Stella: I didn’t know this song existed until Elizabeth and Emma forced me to listen to it. All I can say is that this is the epitome of Justin Bieber. ☆☆☆☆☆

Tucker: While this may have been Justin Bieber’s peak, it was still mediocre at best. One star for being funny and one for its repeated usage of “shawty.” ★★☆☆☆


Robert Wells and Mel Tormé wrote “The Christmas Song” in 1945, and its most popular recording is Nat King Cole’s 1961 release. We rate it at an average of 3.5 stars.

“The Christmas Song”

Elizabeth: “The Christmas Song” embodies all of the cozy feelings of the holiday season. While listening to the words, I feel as though I really am roasting chestnuts on an open fire. “The Christmas Song” is another classic that you simply can’t go wrong with. For best results, listen to Nat King Cole’s version. ★★★★★

Emma: To be honest, this song is not very memorable. The only reason I know it exists is because Elizabeth loves to belt random lyrics every class to this song whenever we are in breakout rooms. It’s as fun as it sounds. ★★☆☆☆

Stella: The orchestra accompanying Nat King Cole’s 1961 recording is a bit off-putting, and I have a more serious distaste of the use of the term “Eskimos” to refer to the Indigenous people of Inuit tribes. Besides that, Cole’s voice is somewhat soothing and the lyrics aren’t terrible. ★★☆☆☆

Tucker: Nat King Cole is a musical icon and he did not fail to deliver a remarkable Christmas classic. This song is the quiet that comes as the kids snuggle in to wait for Santa, or the hush of fresh snow. It is a simple and timeless song that completes the Christmas spirit.  ★★★★★


Mariah Carey sang and co-wrote “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which was released on her album Merry Christmas in 1994. We rate it at an average of 3.75 stars.

“All I Want for Christmas is You”

Elizabeth: It is evident by the number of times this song plays on the radio, in stores, and in commercials that this is America’s Christmas classic. Who can think of Christmastime without thinking of Mariah Carey and her goldmine Christmas album? This song is the official anthem of Christmas and I will not listen to anyone who says otherwise. ★★★★★

Emma: Christmas just isn’t the same without that one song that is repeatedly blasted everywhere you go, and Mariah Carey wins that award. This exemplary tune makes you want to put off studying for that math test and binge watch those Christmas rom coms that are always a favorite. ★★★★★

Stella: I guess Elizabeth isn’t going to listen to me! This song is purely annoying and overrated. Comparing your partner to a present is a bit dehumanizing, if you ask me, and I sure hope people appreciate their significant others all year round, as opposed to solely the time period in which they’re accustomed to receiving gifts. The intended sentiment is sweet, but the metaphor is questionable. Besides the lyrics, the song itself is comprised of constant high-pitched jingle bells and excessive riffs, rendering the sound unbearable. Only adding insult to injury, the song is catchy and extremely overplayed. ★☆☆☆☆

Tucker: Is a Christmas playlist even a Christmas playlist without this song? Every year I hear this song everywhere I go, but somehow I am still not tired of it. Carey hooks us with a strong solo, which is followed by an infectious song that makes it hard not to smile. ★★★★☆


José Feliciano wrote and sang “Feliz Navidad,” which was released in 1970 under the title “José Feliciano.” We rate it at an average of 3.5 stars.

“Feliz Navidad”

Elizabeth: While the lyrics may be incredibly repetitive, “Feliz Navidad” is a joy-inducing song that is known by Spanish and non Spanish speakers alike. This cultural phenomenon is light-hearted and fun, and will brighten anyone’s mood. ★★★★☆

Emma: This song is the perfect way to increase my very limited Spanish vocabulary, and is the best distraction from writing chemistry lab reports (yes, I’m speaking from personal experience). This song never fails to get you in the Christmas spirit! ★★★★★

Stella: ¡Órale! ¡Qué padre! This song is very chido (yes, I broke out my applicable Mexican slang for this, because I don’t know any of the Puerto Rican variety). I very much enjoy this song, both for its lyrics and upbeat instrumental accompaniment. It is three minutes of highly repetitive chorus, but José Feliciano certainly outdid himself. ★★★★☆
Tucker: It can be a fun song but overall it just doesn’t have much to offer. ★☆☆☆☆


“Winter Wonderland” was originally written by Felix Bernard and Richard Berhnard Smith in 1934, with some lyrics being changed in 1947 to make it more suitable to children. Multiple lyrical variations have been used in the over 200 recordings of the song. We rate it at an average of 3.5 stars.

“Winter Wonderland”

Elizabeth: “Winter Wonderland” contains beautiful imagery that accurately conveys all of the emotions surrounding the Christmas season. While this isn’t my most favorite song on this list, “Winter Wonderland” is a perfectly acceptable Christmas tune and will never fail to lift your spirits. I advise you to listen to Bing Crosby’s performance of this timeless song. ★★★★☆

Emma: Don’t listen to Elizabeth; Michael Bublé’s version is so much better! This classic never fails to make you want to go skip around the city and meet a snowman named Parson Brown (I think? Something like that). Anyway, a must add to your holiday playlist! ★★★★☆

Stella: This song’s tired rhymes and mediocre melody never fail to remind me how astounding the obsession over Christmas music is. Ignoring the re-written, unintelligible lyrics, the accompanying jazz band’s sound gives me the violent urge to shove my head through drywall. This doesn’t remind me at all of snow or Winter in general, and I would rather listen to anything else during the holiday season. Michael Bublé’s voice is the only reason “Winter Wonderland” gets any stars at all. (And, in case you’re wondering, Tucker and Emma did threaten me over this review.) ★☆☆☆☆

Tucker: “Winter Wonderland” encapsulates everything perfect about winter: the first walk after it snows where the sun is shining as your feet crunch in the snow, fires and blankets, lovely desserts, and family time are all wrapped up in this wonderful song. The cheery big band set up just emanates the holiday spirit while Crosby’s voice has a classic warmth. With “Winter Wonderland,” Bing Crosby invites everyone to feel the pure joy that winter can bring.   ★★★★★


“The First Nowell” is of Cornish origin, and, although the timing is unclear, is speculated to have been written between the 1500s and 1700s. Many popular artists have covered it since, usually referring to it as “The First Noel” in America. We rate it at an average of 3.25 stars.

“The First Noel”

Elizabeth: “The First Noel” doesn’t get mentioned very often when discussing the best Christmas songs, but that is a huge mistake. This song is beautifully crafted with soft and soothing vocals. This subtle but striking song is really one of my favorite Christmas songs. My go-to version of this song is Josh Groban and Faith Hill’s duet (Yes, Emma went to my Christmas playlist in order to hear this song for the first time). ★★★★★

Emma: Reality check: I had no idea what this song was until I played it for the first time in order to write this review. But, it was certainly not a waste of time. I will have you know that it made the cut for my exclusive Christmas playlist. Josh Groban and Faith Hill’s duet is a must-listen! ★★★★☆

Stella: While I don’t have much of a connection to the first Noël, this song is my favorite to listen to while looking at Christmas lights. I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics, but the music itself is quite enjoyable. ★★★☆☆

Tucker: Frank Sinatra’s voice is stunning in his rendition of this “The First Noel,” but frankly, it has too much religion for my taste. ★☆☆☆☆


“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was written by Tommie Connor and first sang by Jimmy Boyd in 1952. One of the most notable covers was released in 1970 by The Jackson 5. We rate it at an average of 0.75 stars.

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”

Elizabeth: I don’t know who came up with the idea or the message behind this song, but it’s time for us to stop putting this song on our Christmas playlists. Let’s normalize boycotting “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” because any true Christmas lover knows that it just doesn’t hold a candle to any of the other Christmas classics. Simply put, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” doesn’t meet the standard of Christmas. ☆☆☆☆☆

Emma: EW EW EW! This embarrassment to Christmas music everywhere puts a damper on Christmas cheer. For someone who loves Christmas so much they make their holiday playlist right after Halloween (OK, I realize I pride myself too much on this playlist), this song does not make the cut. ☆☆☆☆☆

Stella: As someone who grew up with separated parents, the idea that Santa is actually the dad went entirely over my head as a kid, and does not appeal to me. However, if this is the sort of childish naiveté you enjoy, I recommend the Jackson 5 rendition. Young Michael Jackson has an amazing voice, which earns the quintet a star. ★☆☆☆☆

Tucker: Even the opening of this song makes me uncomfortable. It simply isn’t an enjoyable song, the words are weird, the music is not great, but young Michael Jackson’s stunning voice almost makes it enjoyable. ★★☆☆☆


“Baby It’s Cold Outside” was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and first released in the 1949 movie Neptune’s Daughter. It has since been performed by many popular artists. We rate it at an average of 0.25 stars.

“Baby it’s Cold Outside”

Elizabeth: If you overlook the overall creepiness of the song, “Baby it’s Cold Outside” can be an enjoyable listen. I recommend the Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé rendition. ★☆☆☆☆

Emma: No, Elizabeth, the overall creepiness cannot be overlooked! The conversational dialogue also makes it ten times worse than it already is. Michael Bublé- I’m disappointed that you decided to take on this duet. ☆☆☆☆☆

Stella: A man trying to coax a woman to stay at his house? There is not a definitive “no,” but there certainly isn’t a “yes.” Romanticizing coercion is not tolerable, regardless of if it was acceptable at the time. I can’t ignore the lyrics, so I recommend just forgoing this song altogether and reminding your family and friends that non-pressured consent and clear communication is always necessary.  ☆☆☆☆☆

Tucker: Why is this song still around? Besides its terrible lyrics, this song’s overall sound is mediocre at best. Even Sinatra could not save this travesty. ☆☆☆☆☆


Due to a lack of Chanukah songs, Adam Sandler performed and co-wrote “The Chanukah Song” in 1994 for a Saturday Night Live skit. We rate it at an average of 3.5 stars.

“The Chanukah Song”

Elizabeth: Was I entertained and amused? Yes. Was I also very confused? Yes. ★★★☆☆

Emma: OMG. Adam Sandler never disappoints, and the crowd of people cheering him on would definitely agree with me. Add this to the queue for a laugh and a chance to follow along Adam’s questionable rhymes! ★★★★★

Stella: I find that the lack of non-prayer Chanukah songs is a tragedy. Adam Sandler’s creative rhyming and melody make a wonderful soundtrack for me to listen to while eating all the chocolate coins I win. So, despite the disdain I harbor for Sandler, I have to say this song is a gem.  ★★★★☆

Tucker: The intent is lovely, some of the lyrics are fun, but Sandler’s terrible voice hurts too much to make this listenable. As a skit it would be rated higher, but as a holiday song, I can only give it two stars. ★★☆☆☆


In 1963, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was written by George Wyle and Edward Pola. That same year, the song was first recorded and released by Andy WIlliams. We rate it at an average of 3.25 stars.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Elizabeth: Contrary to Stella’s negative attitude, I believe that the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year. Nothing screams Christmas like walking into a department store and hearing Andy Williams’ version of this song blasting at full volume. If you wrapped all of the anticipations, hopes, and sentiments of Christmas into one song, that would be “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” ★★★★☆

Emma: It really is the happiest season of all. As Andy Williams tells us, this time of year is the perfect excuse to go caroling and catch up with loved ones (safely!), contrary to what Stella may tell you in the following review.  ★★★★☆

Stella: Is it really the most wonderful time of the year? When’s the last time you went caroling, were mistletoeing (whatever that is), or your heart was glowing? The lyrics don’t represent what the holiday season is like for most families; rather, it displays the idealistic notion that everybody is magically happy when Christmas comes along. Besides this debatable claim, the music in Andy Williams’ classic version is mildly enjoyable. ★☆☆☆☆

Tucker: A Christmas classic – this song just screams holiday cheer. Andy Williams gives a timeless carol that entirely encapsulates the winter season. ★★★★☆

What is your favorite holiday song referenced in our holiday song review?

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