You know you’re entering the festive season when Christmas songs start being played everywhere. From old classics to new tunes, which are the best Christmas songs of all time?
We wanted to get to the bottom of this, so using heart rate tracking equipment, we analysed listeners’ heart rates as we played top festive hits, to see which tunes really do get us rocking around the Christmas tree.
So, which is the all-time best Christmas song? It’s about to be revealed…
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard tops the Christmas charts
It’s official: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday gets hearts racing the most. With respondents’ average beats per minute (BPM) reaching 83.4, this song raised BPM by more than 20 – outperforming any other festive tune! The original song was recorded and released in 1973, making the song nearly 50 years old.
The second top Christmas song based on heart rates is Fairytale of New York, by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl. It’s no coincidence that Shane MacGowan, who was the lead singer of The Pogues and co-wrote the song, was in fact born on Christmas Day. It was certified triple platinum in the UK in 2019, making it one of the most successful Christmas songs of all time. When listening to this classic, respondents’ BPM increase by more than 17.
In third place is Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas, resulting in an increase in BPM of more than 16. When it was originally released in 1988, the song peaked in the UK charts at just No. 53. It has since gone on to peak at No. 11 in 2018 and has made an appearance in the Top 40 every year since 2007. X Factor finalist, Stacey Solomon, released a version of the song in 2011 which featured in supermarket chain Iceland’s Christmas TV adverts at the time.
Coming in at 4th just behind Driving Home For Christmas was It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams. This raised respondents’ heart rates by 16 BPM. There have been several versions of the song since its original release in 1963, including a version by Johnny Mathis more than 20 years later in 1986. Completing the top five was Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. It became the seventh single released by John Lennon separate to his work with The Beatles. The 1971 Christmas hit raised respondents’ heart rates by 15 BPM.
When A Child Is Born by Johnny Mathis is the least popular Christmas song
In contrast, the most unpopular Christmas song according to heart rates, is When A Child Is Born by Johnny Mathis. With an average heart rate of 68.9, listeners experienced only a small increase in their BPM by 5.3. There have been many covers of the song, but the version by Johnny Mathis recorded in 1976 has arguably been the most successful to date.
Just ahead of that in second to last place was Blue Christmas by the ‘King’ himself, Elvis Presley. Respondents’ heart rates improve by just 6.6 BPM when listening to the 1964 hit. The song was actually first performed by Doye O’Dell nearly 20 years earlier in 1948, making it one of the oldest Christmas songs on our list.
Baby It’s Cold Outside by Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews came in third from bottom having increased heart rates by 7.3 BPM. This classic has been covered many times across several continents. More recently it was covered by John Legend & Kelly Clarkson with their 2019 rendition. The Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews version was released just before the Millennium in 1999.
Completing the bottom five were Lonely This Christmas and Stop The Cavalry by Mud and Jona Lewie respectively. Both songs were released in the 70s and the former sold more than 750,000 copies – not bad considering it only raised heart rates by 9.3 BPM.
So, there you have it! I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is officially the greatest Christmas song of all time. To get yourself into the festive spirit, all you need to do is pour yourself a glass of eggnog, have a gingerbread biscuit, and listen to these Christmas songs on repeat!