Jonathan Takiff's All-Time Top Ten Christmas tunes

Posted: December 05, 2012

1."This Christmas," Donny Hathaway. The groovin' soul original we all remember Hathaway by, that every young artist still aims to cover, 40-plus years later.

2. "Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt. Oh, did the woman raise a fuss with this steamy and materialistic come-on!

3. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Ray Charles and Betty Carter. While written in 1949 by Frank Loesser, this 1961 version was first to chart and remains "the standard." Revealed Brother Ray's lecherous side. Arguably made Carter's career.

4. "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," Gene Autry. Ecumenical fable with a non-sectarian country swing arrangement made this little Jewish cowpoke feel welcome to celebrate that other holiday.

5. "Little Drummer Boy"/"Peace On Earth," Bing Crosby and David Bowie. One of the oddest matchups in pop history. And yet their 1977 TV-special performance soared to the heavens.

6. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen. The most blatant of The Boss' homages to Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" productions. And I was there at CW Post College, the night (12/12/75) this rendering was revealed and recorded. (Thanks Ed and Judy.) Turn it up to "11"!

7. "Frosty The Snowman," The Ronettes. The first big blast of Phil Spector revisionist holiday cheer, from 1963. Made many kinds of "sacrilege" acceptible.

8. "Happy XMAS, War Is Over," John Lennon/Yoko Ono & Plastic Ono Band. Still grabs the heart, brings tears to the eyes, 41 years after its debut.

9. "Father Christmas," The Kinks. Felt old and true, even when new in 1977. A Dickensian tale of poor boys beating up a department store Santa, demanding money instead of frivolous toys.

10. Mary's Little Boy Child," Harry Belafonte. The first Calypso Christmas spiritual, this lilting manger-set saga makes a deserving comeback on Mandisa's new "It's Christmas - Christmas Angel Edition."

- Jonathan Takiff

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