The Ultimate Holiday Song Playlist Every Millennial Will Love

Whether you're looking for an upbeat pop song or a pensive ballad, these tunes are a pitch-perfect way to get in the holiday spirit.

It’s the time of year when Christmas carols fill the radio waves and the shops, which isn’t always the most positive experience. While many holiday classics are nostalgic and catchy, not everyone wants to hear “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” day in and day out for the entire month of December.

However, as the air turns colder and the Christmas lights illuminate the streets, you may still want to embrace holiday cheer. Thankfully, there are some great festive songs that aren’t cringe-inducing or repetitive. For those who want a catchy holiday playlist without sacrificing musical quality, we’re compiled some of the all-time great Christmas songs.

As a long-time music journalist, I can confirm these holiday tunes, which span the past twenty or so years, will delight millennial listeners this season. Whether you’re looking for an upbeat pop song or a pensive ballad, these tracks will make the ultimate holiday playlist.

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“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey‘s Christmas anthem is one of the holiday season’s most iconic — and delightful — songs. Fans of Love, Actually may also want to add the film’s memorable version, by Olivia Olson, to their playlist.

“Merry Christmas” by Elton John and Ed Sheeran 

Elton John and Ed Sheeran‘s pop-fueled holiday team-up was an instant classic when it came out in 2021. The catchy chorus, which sees the duo singing in harmony, is festive and upbeat.

“Last Christmas” by Ariana Grande

A lot of artists have taken a crack at covering Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” but Ariana Grande‘s is one of the best, retaining the tragic pop edge of the original. For more, check out Jimmy Eat World‘s aptly depressing emo version.

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton‘s countrified take on “Jingle Bell Rock,” off his 2012 holiday album Cheers, It’s Christmas, will get you in the mood for some celebration.

“Fairy Tale of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

“Fairy Tale of New York,” originally released in 1987, is the U.K.’s unofficial Christmas anthem. The folk ballad isn’t the most uplifting number, but it’s perfect for reflecting on the year that’s passed.

“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson is no stranger to a holiday song, but her powerful, anthemic “Underneath the Tree” is an undeniable favorite. The track comes off her 2013 album Wrapped in Red, which is filled with both standards and originals.

“Christmas Tree Farm” by Taylor Swift

It feels like Taylor Swift should have released more holiday songs than she has, but “Christmas Tree Farm,” inspired by the singer’s Christmas vacation, is an uplifting addition to any festive playlist.

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” by Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton

Christmas tunes don’t have to traditional, especially when performed by Gwen Stefani. For her 2017 holiday album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, Stefani teamed up with Blake Shelton on the rollicking title track.

“My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears

Britney Spears is pure ’00s pop on “My Only Wish (This Year),” a nostalgic number that comes off compilation album Platinum Christmas.

“Winter Wonderland” by Kylie Minogue

Sure, you could go for one of the more traditional renditions of “Winter Wonderland,” but Kylie Minogue‘s sultry version is far more compelling. For more, check out her 2015 album Kylie Christmas.

“Christmas Without You” by Ava Max

Ava Max‘s gets reflective on her bluesy holiday ballad “Christmas Without You,” an original tune that dropped in 2020.

“Cozy Little Christmas” by Katy Perry

There’s a lot of love to share in Katy Perry‘s catchy Christmas single “Cozy Little Christmas,” a mid-tempo pop number that makes enough holiday references to fill a stocking.

“Christmas Lights” by Coldplay

Originally recorded for NOW Christmas 2011, Coldplay‘s addition to the holiday canon is emotional and sad. And sometimes that’s the vibe you want on a snowy Christmas day.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Echosmith

There are multiple covers of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” floating around on Spotify, but none is more pensive and heartfelt than Echosmith‘s version. For something a bit more stripped down, look for Johnny Cash‘s 1963 performance of the song.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Phoebe Bridgers

There is no Christmas song sadder than “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Phoebe Bridgers absolutely nails the classic’s mood.

“One More Sleep” by Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis makes everything bright on her charming pop song “One More Sleep,” off the singer’s 2013 album Christmas, with Love.

“You Deserve It All” by John Legend

If all you want for Christmas is John Legend crooning to you, this is your song. The romantic holiday tune, released in 2021, is soulful and sweet.

“Make You Mine This Season” by Tegan and Sara

Written for Hulu’s holiday film Happiest Season, Tegan and Sara‘s “Make You Mine This Season” is a delightful, warm-hearted Christmas love song.

“Home To You (This Christmas)” by Sigrid

Sigrid‘s heart-felt ballad “Home To You” is another instant classic. Like the best holiday songs, the piano-driven track is mournful but still resonates a sense of hope.

“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney

No holiday playlist is complete with the Paul McCartney classic, which is infused with a sense of much-needed feel-good spirit.

Emily Zemler
Emily Zemler is a freelance writer and journalist based in London. She covers entertainment and travel for a variety of outlets, including Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Shondaland and Observer. Read more
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