Santa Claus listening to Christmas music on headphones
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Modern Holiday Songs to Add to Your Playlist Right Now

It's that time of the year! If you need to upgrade your holiday music game, we have the best new releases to get you in the holiday spirit, pronto!
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I love Bing Crosby Christmas classics as much as the next person, but the 2020 holiday season needs a little extra bounce this year.

Luckily, there’s an abundance of modern Christmas songs out there that are ready to bring some cheer to your holiday playlist! With the likes of Ariana Grande, Lil Nas X, Sia, RuPaul, and even the Queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey, these songs will get you in the Christmas spirit.

From upbeat hits to chill ballads, there’s a little something here for everyone. Check it out, and get your playlist ready!

“Drummer Boy” by Justin Bieber feat. Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes lent his crazy skills to Justin Bieber’s 2011 bop, and the proves that not all inspiring holiday messages need to be slow jams.

“Oh Santa!” by Mariah Carey feat. Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson

The Queen of Christmas brought in Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson for this souped-up version of her lesser-known classic, “Oh Santa!” It’s full of extra festive flair as Mariah harmonizes with Ariana and belts alongside Jennifer.

“What Christmas Means to Me” by John Legend feat. Stevie Wonder

This has always been one of my favorite holiday classics, and John Legend does it better than anyone else. Plus, it features the Stevie Wonder on the harmonica, who covered this very same track on his 1967 album, Someday at Christmas.

“Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas” by Dolly Parton and Michael Bublé

Dolly Parton might as well be the Patron Saint of Christmas, considering how much holiday spirit the Queen of Country continues to bring. She teamed up with Michael Bublé this year to bring us this loungy Christmas track that’s sure to become a holiday classic.

“Oi to the World” by No Doubt

Back in their ska days, Gwen Stefani-fronted No Doubt paid tribute to fellow SoCal punks The Vandals with this cover that will get you up and moving. Plus, who doesn’t love a little ’90s nostalgia? For extra holiday spirit, check out the original, too.

“Like It’s Christmas” by The Jonas Brothers

This super sweet holiday hit from the Jo Bros is about being so in love that every day feels like Christmas. Getting a holiday track from Nick, Kevin, and Joe after more than a decade makes every day feel like Christmas, if you ask me.

“I Am the Grinch” by Tyler, The Creator feat. Fletcher Jones

Tyler, the Creator actually contributed two songs to the soundtrack of The Grinch from 2018, but this one gives an interesting take on everyone’s favorite Christmas villain.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You (Make My Wish Come True Edition)” by Mariah Carey

I know it’s an oldie, but this hit from Mariah Carey deserves to be on every holiday playlist. I’ve included the new 2019 version, but the original video is obviously still a classic.

“8 Days of Christmas” by Destiny’s Child

This one’s another oldie, but it is clearly still a banger. Add this song to your holiday playlist for a throwback that will get the party started.

“My Gift Is You” by Gwen Stefani

I love Gwen Stefani, so clearly I love her renditions of holiday tracks. With one listen, this catchy song will get stuck in your head for the entire holiday season — but I’m not complaining.

“The Christmas Song” by Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo put an R&B spin on Christmas classics with the holiday album, Another Kind of Christmas. Although the entire album is great, “The Christmas Song” is a standout track.

“Christmases When You Were Mine” by Taylor Swift

Slow it down with a song that perfectly documents experiencing the holidays without someone you love. Anyone who loves late-2000s Taylor Swift will love this 2007 holiday ballad.

“Santa Baby” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

There are plenty of versions of this song out there, for sure. But Cali punk rockers Me First and the Gimme Gimmes give it the perfect upbeat spin, so let’s rock around the Christmas tree this year!

“Where Are You Christmas” by Faith Hill

This Faith Hill track from the soundtrack for How the Grinch Stole Christmas is definitely a holiday classic. It’s been covered by plenty of artists since it came out, but the Faith Hill version is the best. Fun fact: it was written by the queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey.

“Holidays” by Meghan Trainor feat. Earth, Wind & Fire

This festive jam just came out a few weeks ago, so it’s brand new for 2020. Break out the disco ball and dancing shoes, because it features disco legends Earth, Wind & Fire. The ’70s are so hot right now.

“Feliz Navidad” by El Vez

Mixing the styles of Elvis Presley, American rock n’ roll, and the sounds of his Latin-American roots, El Vez’s take on the classic “Feliz Navidad” rocks.

“Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande explained that this holiday single is “sort of about being fed up with Santa because he doesn’t necessarily pull through all the time.” In any case, the song is cute and catchy — so beware, it’ll be stuck in your head all season!

“Christmas Is” by Dolly Parton feat. Miley Cyrus

Dolly Parton deserves to be on this list twice, considering she is singlehandedly bringing all the holiday cheer this year. This one features Miley Cyrus, and was also in Dolly Parton’s Netflix movie, Christmas On the Square.

“Christmas Was Better In the ‘80s” by The Futureheads

Amid racing drums and soaring guitars, these nu-post-punkers are pining for simpler times when the “snow was deeper” and kids were getting in snowball fights.

“Holiday” by Lil Nas X

Although the lyrics to this track could have been released at any point in the year and still made sense, the accompanying video is probably one of the best Christmas music videos of all time. Check out Lil Nas X as the king of the North Pole, kitted out with high-tech gadgets and a futuristic silver suit.

“Candy Cane Lane” by Sia

I really like this upbeat jingle from Sia. It’s off of her first holiday album, Every Day is Christmas, which features plenty of other original Christmas-themed songs that are worth a listen.

“Hey Sis, It’s Christmas” by RuPaul feat. Markaholic

Surely you’ve heard this banger in the Old Navy ad that’s been playing nonstop on Hulu this season. No, RuPaul didn’t write it for the retailer — it’s actually from RuPaul’s holiday album, Christmas Party. Fluff up your wig and get ready to hit the dance floor.

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Pentatonix

This a cappella group is famous for their amazing holiday albums made with nothing but vocal sounds. But “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is definitely a standout that showcases their impressive beat-boxing skills.

“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson’s original Christmas song features swelling instrumentals and a moving message. Since its release, Clarkson has performed it everywhere, from The Voice and The Ellen Degeneres Show to The Today Show and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

“White Christmas” by Bad Religion

I never thought I’d see the day that Bad Religion made a Christmas song — let alone an entire album — but here we are! The whole album is full of rockin’ holiday spirit, but “White Christmas” is definitely one of its crowning tracks.

“Last Christmas” by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen flips Wham!’s heartbroken holiday classic by adding a heaping dose of saxophone and her smooth, soothing vocals. Turn it up for chill ’80s vibes. Honorable mention that deserves a listen: “It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries”

“Christmas In Harlem” by Kanye West feat. Prynce Cy Hi and Teyana Taylor

Kanye didn’t become president in 2020, but you can’t ignore that he knows how to write a bop. Rolling Stone agrees, since they included this 2010 track on its list of “The Greatest Rock & Roll Christmas Songs.”

“Don’t Shoot Me Santa” by The Killers

The band’s taste for the absurd makes a different kind of holiday song. Watch out — Santa’s got a bullet for lead singer Brandon Flowers, who has apparently been naughty this year.

“Making Christmas” by Rise Against

Try something a little different this year! In my house, The Nightmare Before Christmas is both a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie. Thankfully, Chicago punks Rise Against covered this key song from the classic film and turned it into a punk holiday anthem.

“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC

Ready for some serious late-90s nostalgia and Justin Timberlake’s ramen hair phase? It’s not the holidays until I bring out *NSYNC’s Home for Christmas. Don’t @ me.