2016 Christmas Music: Which Songs Are The Most Popular?

If it seems that you’ve been hearing “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano a lot this during this holiday season, there’s a reason for that. It’s the No. 1 most played Christmas song on radio stations right now according to Billboard Holiday Airplay list. Even though the top two best-selling Christmas music albums belong to Pentatonix, none of the group’s songs are part of the top 10 air play songs. In fact, of the top 10 songs played over the airwaves, seven of them were written before 1971 and the most recent tune, “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, was recorded in 1996. The 10 most popular holiday songs playing over the radio airwaves right now are:

Jose Feliciano
Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad' gets the most airplay
  1. “Feliz Navidad” by Joe Feliciano (1970)
  2. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee (1958)
  3. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey (1994)
  4. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms (1957)
  5. “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives (1965)
  6. “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to you)” by Nat King Cole (1961)
  7. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams (1963)
  8. “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1996)
  9. “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Johnny Mathis (1950)
  10. “Last Christmas” by Wham! (1984)

When it comes to top digital sales of holiday songs, more contemporary songs make the top 10 list, including Pentatonix’s “Hallelujah” which is No. 1, but isn’t really a holiday song at all. Even so, Brenda Lee’s 1958 “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is still popular making it to No. 5 and Bobby Helms’ 1957 “Jingle Bell Rock” is No. 9. Ironically, Wham’s 1984 hit, “Last Christmas” is still popular as well making it to No. 10 on both lists. The top 10 best-selling downloaded holiday songs are:

Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee in 1959. [Image by AP Images]
  1. “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix
  2. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
  3. “Mary, Did You Know?” By Pentatonix
  4. “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  5. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
  6. “St. Brick Into” by Gucci Mane
  7. “Christmas Canon” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  8. “Where Are You Christmas” by Faith Hill
  9. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms
  10. “Last Christmas” by Wham!

So apparently, as much as we like to hear new Christmas music each year, it stands to reason that what we buy and what we actually hear (at least on the radio) may be two different things.

When it comes to Christmas music, traditional Christmas hymns like “O Holy Night” or “Joy to the World” are clearly not as popular as they once were. With exception of Pentatonix’ “Mary Did You Know,” songs about the traditional nativity story are not making the cut.


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However, when it comes to top holiday album sales, consumers appear to be looking for more traditional fare. Four of the top 10 albums were recorded by contemporary Christian artists who are more likely to feature songs about Christmas’ first family as well as Christmas hymns. This year Amy Grant released her fourth Christmas album. The top 10 best-selling holiday albums right now are:

Pentatonix
Pentatonix performs at the 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Tishman Speyer/AP Images
  1. A Pentatonix Christmas by Pentatonix
  2. That’s Christmas to Me by Pentatonix
  3. ‘Tis the Season by Jordan Smith
  4. Christmas Together by Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood
  5. Christmas Together / Gunslinger by Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood
  6. Christmas by Michael Buble
  7. Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship by Chris Tomlin
  8. Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant
  9. Behold: A Christmas Collection by Lauren Daigle
  10. Glow by Brett Eldredge

[Featured Image by Mark Humphrey/AP Images]