Musicians vying for immortality by penning a new Christmas original aren't just competing with evergreens like "Silent Night" and "White Christmas." They also have to contend with the dozen or so standards from the rock era like "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and "Wonderful Christmastime" that everyone is dutifully covering now.
As we close out the decade, let's postulate whether any songs from the '10s (the decade, not the Tenors) can find their space near the inescapable "Last Christmas" and "All I Want for Christmas Is You," both which even The Ten Tenors covered. The latter song finally hit No. 1 after 25 years, so these 10 songs have a good chance to reach classic status.
2010: 'Fruitcake' — The Superions
Few people with lives even knew The B-52s' Fred Schneider had a side project. Yet here's an entire album of fetching Christmas originals, including "Santa's Disco" ("Santa's on stage, Mrs. Claus is in a cage") and a commentary on our aversion to this Christmas Kryptonite ("Artificial color, artificial flavor, If your family don't want it, give it to a neighbor!).
2011: 'Mistletoe' — Justin Bieber
Under The Mistletoe was the first-ever Christmas album by a male artist to debut at No. 1. The song "Mistletoe" hasn't spawned any cover versions thus far, but its music video, with The Bieb's short attention span to his "shorty" whenever a blonde is in camera view, has been spoofed to great effect by The Key of Awesome ("I get more ass than a toilet seat, Cops let me singing in the fuckin' street") and Bart Baker's "Cameltoe."
2012: 'All I Need Is Love' — CeeLo Green featuring The Muppets
Historians say Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift to You was the most ill-timed yuletide album since it was released the same day President Kennedy was assassinated. A close second is Cee Lo's Magic Moment, which came out the same day Green was accused of sexual battery by a woman he furnished with ecstasy (the drug, not the emotion). In his defense, during this Muppet merger, nothing untoward happened with Miss Piggy.
2013: 'Miracle Hymn' — Susan Boyle
Everyone loved the story that propelled Boyle to stardom in 2009. By 2013, she was established enough to have a posthumous duet with Elvis. Her second Christmas CD also featured this hymn written for Boyle's film acting debut in The Christmas Candle. If you wanna watch a movie just to hear Boyle say, "You're not the first clergyman I've seen in his underpants," then go knock yourself out.
2014: 'That's Christmas to Me' — Pentatonix
Talk about "Silent Night" and bloodless coups — why aren't right-wing conspiracy groups railing about how the a capella group Pentatonix hijacked Christmas? For five consecutive holiday seasons, they've had the top-selling Christmas album. The album of the same name was the first chart-topping Christmas album by a vocal group since 1962 — when it was Mitch Miller and the Gang. We're just disappointed as you it wasn't Alvin and The Chipmunks.
2015: 'Nothing for Christmas' — Ru Paul
In 1997, RuPaul released Ho, Ho, Ho, setting the standard for holiday drag queen music. The follow-up, titled Slay Belles, came 18 years later. In between skits and risque fare like "I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus" was "Nothing for Christmas,” a lament about how bad behavior scratched Ru off of Santa’s list (“I was a good girl all year long until somebody did me wrong”). This ditty could satiate that niche market for holiday breakup songs created by Wham’s “Last Christmas.”
2016: 'Ugly Christmas Sweater' — Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood
It's universal, short, catchy, and produced to sound like it was recorded the same week as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." In a few more years, this office Christmas party anthem will be as omnipresent as "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."
2017: 'You Make It Feel Like Christmas' — Gwen Stefani featuring Blake Shelton
Playing Marilyn Monroe to Blake Shelton’s Desi Arnaz, Stefani sings, “We’re gonna be a classic for all time.” This carol, with its retro-Motown production, could very well prove timeless. So could this star-power coupling, although every other National Enquirer cover wants you to believe otherwise.
2018: 'Icy Colors Change' — Azealia Banks
Even in a decade when rap finally outsold rock, not much holiday hip-hop since "Christmas in Hollis" has had any Winter Wonderland traction. But Banks has made an eccentric, magical track that glistens like a row of stalagmites.
2019: 'A Hand for Mrs. Claus' — Idina Menzel featuring Ariana Grande
Finally, a carol about Santa's better half. Need something naughty like "Santa Baby" without that stink of "Baby It's Cold Outside"? Check out when these chanteuses ask, "Who keeps the North Pole hot till winter thaws?"
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.