What gives me the authority to render judgment on the quality of Christmas tunes? Well folks, let me tell you a story. 

At my first job we had one supervisor with a bit of an unusual policy. Every time she supervised a closing shift, we celebrated the horrifying tradition of “Christmas Music Power Hour,” in which the only music that was allowed to be blasting through our speakers for the final hour of the shift was Christmas music. And the real kicker? This was a summer job. I have been subjected to literally hundreds of hours of out-of-season Christmas music. And all the trauma gave me exactly one skill: the ability to put together a spectacular Christmas playlist. 

First off, there is only one correct way to begin any good Christmas playlist. That way, my good pals, is with Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You.” This is the only Christmas song I genuinely enjoy when it is played out of season. She is the perfect way to kick off your celebration. No one can resist the alluring holiday cheer of Ms. Mariah Carey, and why would you want to? 

Next, we have to cover the classics, because Christmas is all about the classics. I probably don’t have to tell you what belongs in this section, you already know. “Silver Bells” by Dean Martin, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, “Feliz Navidad”  by José Felicano, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of The Year” by Andy Williams are just some of the things that should be appearing here. 

“Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms is also an essential classic. A reenactment of the Mean Girls dance scene is technically optional, but highly encouraged. 

I know there are about a thousand different artists who have performed “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” but the version you want to be listening to is Bruce Springsteen’s. It is simply the superior rendition. 

The dominance that Michael Bublé asserts over the Christmas music industry is simply unmatched. Personally, my hot take of the holiday season is that he’s kind of overrated. However, if your playlist needs the capacity to satisfy your middle-aged relatives, he has a few relatively good offerings. Both “It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” will provide you with some cheerful holiday vibes. 

Now, let’s move on to a few more outside of the box additions. “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay is a very pretty, if slightly sad, element. Get a little Justin Timberlake in there with “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” by NSYNC. And my mother will never approve of a Christmas playlist that doesn’t contain “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. 

For a fun wild card nostalgia element, throw in “Like It’s Christmas” by the Jonas Brothers. Is it good? The answer to that is a resounding indifferent shrug. But will it give you the same dopamine rush you got the first time you watched Camp Rock in 2008? Absolutely, yes. And if we’re really being honest with ourselves that’s worth even more. 

As the final installment in this epic saga of Christmas songs, I will be revealing my best-kept secret. This final song is, drumroll please, “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball” by The Killers. Just imagine there are some flashing lights and maybe some jazz hands as you read this. 

This song simply appeared out of nowhere one day on a homemade Christmas playlist CD created by my father back when CDs were the most effective way to listen to music in cars. It has everything you could possibly want in a holiday song. It’s got a storyline. It’s got a vague illusion that the two main characters are not straight. It’s got the kind of peppy country-ish dance beat that brings back the memories of that one gym class in high school where they decided to teach you how to square dance even though you are from Connecticut. You really couldn’t ask for anything more. 

And there you have it folks, the perfect Christmas playlist. Go forth, celebrate and enjoy!

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