Christmas tracks hold a special place in a lot of people’s hearts; they’re emblematic of one of the most wonderful times of the year, so it makes sense. But, like any great song, there are going to be plenty of remixes out there that some people love more than the original. A lot of Christmas tracks got rock makeovers over the years, eventually turning into holiday classics in their own right.
In this article, we’ll go over the 33 best Christmas rock songs out there, from all-time classics to some you might have forgotten about.
1. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry darn near invented rock and roll as we know it today, so why would we be surprised that he put his unique spin on Christmas songs? Run Rudolph Run is one of the few timeless tracks about Christmas that hasn’t changed in the decades since it was first released. Overall, it’ll have all the kids jumping for joy and even some of the adults shaking around the house as you celebrate Christmas with your family.
Recommended: Top Kids Christmas songs
2. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
Jingle Bell Rock is a track burned into every kid’s memory at a young age, but it’s been a hit Christmas song for a long time. Originally released in 1957, it became a crossover hit that surged up the country and mainstream Billboard charts in its day. It’s still a Christmas favorite to this day, almost always ranking near the top of the Christmas/Holiday Digital Sales charts in the United States every year.
3. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
Wonderful Christmastime isn’t one of the harder rocking songs out there for the holidays, but it’s such a classic that it’s hard to leave out. It’s a simple track with a simple message about spending time with your family during the holidays and having a good time because being together is enough for you. Plus, anything that comes from Paul McCartney instantly has fans, making this one of the most-played songs of the entire holiday season.
4. White Christmas – Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton’s name carries weight, and you better believe his Christmas albums are jam-packed with good stuff. We picked his rendition of White Christmas because it puts an epic new spin on Bing Crosby’s legendary holiday hit.
5. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
While many might spend their Christmas holiday looking out the window at a blanket of snow, those in warmer regions might be able to head to the beach on Christmas. I’ve done it plenty of times in Florida, though being in Canada is quite different. The Beach Boys released Little Saint Nick to celebrate Christmas in California, a song that sees them celebrating the arrival of Santa with a bonfire on a warm California beach.
6. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Santa Baby puts the sexy in Christmas, literally. Eartha Kitt’s iconic vocals in this song turned the whole holiday season into a seductive trap rather than a materialistic one. It was described as a cheeky take on the holiday, but it was a huge hit that saw her asking Santa Claus for some extravagant gifts in return for implied favors. A lot of artists have covered this one over the years, so you can pick any version you like for your holiday playlist.
Recommended: The sexiest songs of all time
7. Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley And Martin McBride
From a white Christmas to a blue one, Elvis Presley produced one of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time when he released Blue Christmas. His dripping vocals make you feel the true heartbreaking emotions of the track, and when it came out, it was a revolutionary twist on the holiday.
8. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee’s version of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree isn’t the remixed rock version of the song, it’s the original. It’s also the undisputed “best” version of the track and the one you’ve heard countless times over the years on TV specials, in malls, and on the radio. A rockabilly singer at heart, she has helped rock our faces off during the holidays for years and given us one of the undisputable best Christmas songs of all time.
9. Silent Night – Johnny Cash
Silent Night might be one of the most iconic songs of the Christmas season, but you’ve never heard it like this before. A beautiful track that celebrates the birth of Jesus does nothing but benefit from the deep smoky vocals of Johnny Cash. His gravelly voice brings an added layer of power and emotion to a song that was already very dear to many people’s hearts during that time of the year.
10. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town – Bruce Springsteen
Is it possible for us to do this list without paying the Boss his due? Bruce Springsteen’s Americana rock style was never afraid to dip his toe into the Christmas spirit. His version of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town eclipsed any that came before it and set a new standard for Christmas tracks. It’s everything you could ask for in a rocking Christmas song, and it’s one that you’re going to hear a lot during the end of the year.
11. Christmas In Hollis – Run DMC
Hey, rap rock counts as rock music when it comes to Christmas. Run DMC sampled classic Christmas songs like Frosty The Snowman and Jingle Bells to create their ode to the holiday season, a sensational rap-rock single that should be in any of your fun holiday playlists.
12. Oi To The World! – The Vandals
Joy To The World might be one of the best Christian Christmas songs out there, but if you’re more inclined to listen to punk music, this is the version for you. The Vandals’ Oi To The World! is a play on that track that has all the punk energy your Christmas needs to rock while maintaining the uplifting Christmas spirit that makes the season so special for people.
13. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Bob Dylan
Listening to Bob Dylan sing Christmas probably wasn’t on your to-do list today, but you need to put it there. His version of I’ll Be Home For Christmas is a lively yet mournful take on one of the best classics of the entire holiday season.
14. 2,000 Miles – Pretenders
Look, the alternative rock fans out there don’t exactly get a lot of good Christmas songs. Most of the rocking Christmas tracks out there is more classic rock than anything new, even the ones recorded in the last few years. Pretenders were unafraid of losing any of the Christmas spirit when they took on the holiday though, producing 2,000 Miles and making one of the best new-wave Christmas anthems of the decade in the process.
15. Frosty the Snowman – The Ventures
Several groups have taken a turn with Frosty The Snowman, from the Cocteau Twins to The Ventures. The Ventures’ version of the track is probably the one you’ve heard growing up. It’s got a 60s vibe to it that matches the old animated movies that come on TV around Christmas, and it just feels like a good rock Christmas song—yeah, the explanation sucks, but it’s accurate).
16. Yule Shoot Your Eye Out – Fall Out Boy
Just like the alt kids got their turn, we now look to the emos for a good rock Christmas song. Fall Out Boy released Yule Shoot Your Eye Out to massive fan praise, but it’s mostly underrated outside of their own audience. It’s got the perfect amount of nihilism for any holiday haters out there thanks to lines like “Merry Christmas, I Could Care Less.” Enjoy this one if you generally happen to bah-humbug the holiday anyway.
17. The Night Santa Went Crazy – “Weird Al” Yankovic
We’ve got to have a “Weird Al” Yankovic song on this list because you know he’d do one at some point. It’s a hilarious and clever track about a drunken Santa Claus that makes fun of the holiday and all of the pop music that pretends to love it in a purely “Weird Al” Yankovic way that we adore.
18. Mistress For Christmas – AC/DC
What can you get a rockstar, who has everything, for Christmas? Well, according to AC/DC, a mistress wouldn’t be a bad idea. Mistress For Christmas is a simple holiday song about wanting to get a woman as a Christmas present. Is it family-friendly? No. Is it a good song to play around feminists? Absolutely not. However, it’s still a rocking Christmas song that can be enjoyed in the right company.
19. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon
John Lennon released several songs in an effort to plead for peace during the Vietnam War era. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was an entry by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that was meant to be a call for the end of the Vietnam War but remains relevant to this day. It would eventually become a staple of the season. It’s a sad reminder of the continual conflicts the government fuels and the troops that don’t get to spend the holiday with their families.
20. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid 30
Band Aid 30 is someone you might not have heard of. It was a British supergroup that included Bono, Phil Collins, Sting, George Michael, and plenty of other huge stars. The group joined up to release a Christmas song for charity, with the proceeds of the track going to help with hunger relief in Ethiopia. Do They Know It’s Christmas? was the result of that endeavor, becoming an absolutely massive hit internationally despite a bit of controversy over one of Bono’s lyrics.
21. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
Darlene Love’s version of Christmas (Babe Please Come Home) is considered a cult classic and an amazing song in its own right. A lot of stars have covered it over the years, including Mariah Carey and U2, so you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to different versions that are actually good.
22. Thank God It’s Christmas – Queen
Have you ever counted down the days to Christmas and felt like it was taking forever? If you did, the relief of it finally coming must have been grand. Thank God It’s Christmas by Queen is a song that sort of goes over that feeling. It’s often a forgotten track by the band, but once you hear it, it’ll always find a place in your holiday playlist.
23. Christmas In Harlem – Kanye West
Kanye West’s Christmas in Harlem is sort of a follow-up to Run DMC’s Christmas In Hollis. It’s one of the best depictions of the season, describing the horrific weather conditions outside but saying it’s okay because he’s with the one he loves. Even if you don’t love Ye anymore, this is still a good Christmas song.
24. All I Want For Christmas Is You (Make My Wish Come True Edition) – Mariah Carey
Okay, don’t hate me. This has to be a song on the list. It’s a rockin’ version of a classic and has made Mariah Carey ungodly amounts of money in the years since she first released it. I mean, we can’t leave a track this ubiquitous off the list. You’re going to hear it in every shopping mall, store, restaurant, and public building that plays music that you walk into from November 1st through Christmas, so you’re going to have to prepare yourself for the greatness that is All I Want For Christmas Is You (Make My Wish Come True Edition).
25. Christmas With The Devil – Spinal Tap
Jesus will certainly not be smiling at this song, as it’s mainly depicting celebrating the Savior’s birthday with his arch-nemesis. Spinal Tap’s Christmas With The Devil is a heavy metal track about spending the holidays with Satan. But, they don’t exist as a band, they’re actually a team of comedians and writers, making this a hilarious parody of the holiday—despite how well it’s packaged into a song.
26. Little Drummer Boy – Bob Seger
Little Drummer Boy is a staple of Christmas, and there’s an endless number of versions out there for you to choose from. If you want a bit of a rock twist on it, Bob Seger’s version is the best one to go with, as it’s become an essential of any holiday playlist.
27. Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
The Ronettes were specifically picked to do a Christmas album in 1963, recording several classics that were all exceptional. Sleigh Ride was one of their best, charting when it was released the first time and again when it was re-released in 2020.
28. Father Christmas – The Kinks
Father Christmas by The Kinks is a fun Christmas song. It sees a department mall Santa attacked by a bunch of poor kids who hadn’t been getting presents. Seeing richer friends get things, they wrongly blame ‘Santa’ and go on the offensive.
29. Last Christmas – Wham!
Last Christmas by Wham! has been called one of the best Christmas songs ever written. It’s a sad track, discussing a lost loved one that will have you reminiscing about the people you don’t have around anymore to spend Christmas with, so listen with due caution if that has happened to you recently.
30. Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
Slade was an iconic glam group and they weren’t big fans of doing a Christmas special. Eventually, producers coaxed them into releasing Merry Xmas Everybody and the world was better for it. It took the top spot on the charts in 1973 and became a huge success.
31. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
Fairytale Of New York isn’t exactly a Christmas song, it depicts the city during that time of year. Speaking of years, in recent ones, this track has come under fire for a few different lines that people are bent out of shape about. I doubt anything will change and this classic will remain the same as it’s always been.
32. Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Christmas All Over Again by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is a rocking good Christmas song, but it was released for a very special reason. He didn’t write the track for his own album; it was part of A Very Special Christmas Compilation by A&M, an album that was meant to fund and support the Special Olympics that came out in 1992. So we got a Christmas classic, but it also served a good cause.
33. We Wish You A Merry Christmas – Weezer
We Wish You A Merry Christmas is an all-time caroling classic, but Weezer’s rocking version of it was something else. It was a massive fan favorite from their Christmas With Weezer EP in 2008 that put the band’s own twist on a holiday staple. This is definitely one you should break out in your door-to-door caroling campaign if you’ve got the pipes for it.
The top Christmas Carols of all time
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.