Top 10 Christmas Songs in Movies


Despite being bombarded with Holiday ads, Christmas songs, and those excellent TV specials, do you find yourself still having trouble getting into that Holiday spirit? Well, get a mug of hot cocoa, turn on some Christmas lights and enjoy these videos of the top ten Christmas songs from movies.

This time around I did not include TV specials that are now movies (i.e. Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas).

The Top 10 Christmas Songs in Movies

– “Auld Lang Syne” – It’s a Wonderful Life
– “Christmas is All Around” – Love Actually
– “The Bells of St. Mary’s” – The Bells of St. Mary’s

10) “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – Elf
Performed By: Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell

If there is one movie where Will Ferrell can be forgiven for his over-acting and lack of subtlety, it is the lovable Holiday movie Elf. Ferrell’s portrayal of Buddy the Elf is nothing short of hilarious as he turns of his usual crudeness and manages to come across as remarkably innocent and sympathetic. Central to the film is his relationship with Jovi, the bitter department store worker played by the adorable Zooey Deschanel. One of their first moments of romantic interaction is when Buddy hears Jovi letting loose her inhibitions and singing in the shower. Naively, Buddy decides to enter the bathroom and join in the song. What follows is an entertaining duet with the soothing voice of Zooey Deschanel and the goofy facial expressions of Will Ferrell.

9) “Snow” – White Christmas
Performed By: Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen

For a Christmas musical, there are a surprisingly low number of songs in the movie White Christmas that are actually about Christmas. Apart from the obvious title song, most of the songs are enjoyable, but could be cut and paste into any season. However, one fabulous song that I feel isn’t paid enough attention in Holiday soundtracks is “Snow”. This song is one of the only times in the film that the four main characters come together and join in harmony. With music and lyrics by the great Irving Berlin the song “Snow” is reminiscent of the soft fall of the first winter flakes. The harmonies are beautiful and Bing’s deep baritone can put anybody in the Holiday spirit as they ask the essential question – what is Christmas with no snow?

8) “Somewhere in My Memory” – Home Alone
Performed By: Children’s Chorus

One of the classics from my childhood that never ceases to warm my heart is Home Alone. The film features some excellent Holiday music with an original score by John Williams. Some songs are not necessarily Christmas or Holiday-themed, but they become that way by association. One of those songs is “Somewhere in My Memory” that appears in one of the rare serious moments in Home Alone. Our protagonist, Kevin (Macauley Culkin), is realizing the importance of family at Christmas time as he peers into windows to see Holiday gatherings. The non-diegetic song “Somewhere in My Memory” fades into the diegetic “O Holy Night” as sung by a children’s chorus. This is representative of Kevin’s dreamlike moment becoming a real one as he is confronted by the neighbor he fears and the realization that he is alone.

7) “Silver Bills” – The Lemon Drop Kid
Performed By: Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell

The often performed Holiday classic “Silver Bells” originally appeared in the subpar Christmas movie The Lemon Drop Kid. It’s not a particularly great movie and it has a poor execution of its themes, but it is undeniably warm especially in the scene where the soon-to-be classic Christmas tune is introduced. Marilyn Maxwell’s vocals are fantastic and Bob Hope’s comic interjections put a humorous spin on the Christmas Carol tradition. Also, enjoyable is the long tracking shots that are used showing the central couple literally surrounded by “busy sidewalks” and “the hustle and bustle” of the season.

6) “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas” – A Muppet Christmas Carol
Performed By: Kermit the Frog

There is something undeniably enjoyable about Kermit the Frog singing. From his classic rendition of “Rainbow Connection” to “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” his cartoonish voice is only improved when put to song. That is why my favorite song from Jim Henson’s retelling of A Christmas Carol is Kermit’s solo “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas.” Kermit plays the sympathetic Bob Cratchit, a character who spends his day being verbally abused by his curmudgeonly boss, Ebenezer Scrooge. Despite the deplorable conditions of his place of employment and his financial insecurity, nothing can destroy Bob’s Holiday spirit. That spirit is magically exemplified in the upbeat song that he sings as he closes up shop on Christmas Eve.

5) “Noel” – The Bishop’s Wife
Performed By: The Boy’s Choir

One of the often overlooked Christmas classics is The Bishop’s Wife starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. It is not a very “musical” film with the exception of one scene that could melt even the most frozen of hearts. Cary Grant’s character enters a church where boy’s choir rehearsal is supposed to be occurring. The pastor talks of the difficulty of competing with basketball practice and other activities around Christmastime. Cary Grant convinces the one boy who is present to start singing a rendition of “Noel.” The beautiful first soprano begins a solo and is soon joined by the entire chorus entering slowly and assuming their respective harmonies. It is a remarkable scene that truly captures the communal and youthful spirit of the season.

4) “What’s This?” – The Nightmare Before Christmas
Performed By: Danny Elfman

Tim Burton’s dark stop motion Christmas film The Nightmare Before Christmas is full of excellent songs that don’t sound a bit like your classical Holiday tunes. With the film’s score and Jack Skellington’s singing vocals done by Danny Elfman, we get a taste of the creepy side of Christmas. One of my favorite moments comes in Jack’s discovery of Christmas Town where it is actually Christmas every day of the year. He elatedly explores all of the traditions in which the citizens partake while he tries to learn why he suddenly feels so happy. The true message here is that even those of you who scoff at the cheesiness of the Holidays and prefer the ghoulishness of Halloween over the magic of Christmas should get into the spirit once in a while.

3) “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Meet Me in St. Louis
Performed By: Judy Garland

Despite not being a Christmas movie at all, Vincente Minelli’s classic film Meet Me in St. Louis provides one of the most memorable Holiday songs ever. The song is used as a mood-changing device in the film as Esther (Judy Garland) attempts to cheer up her distraught younger sister “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien). The song she sings has become an anthem for Holiday cheer with poignant lyrics for anybody who is going through struggles during the Holidays – “Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow / Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.” The way the Minnelli shoots the scene is perfect with Esther and “Tootie” framed in a window as if to represent a snapshot of America. The lighting in the film suggests a quiet optimism that is reassuring and goes perfect with Garland’s beautiful voice.

2) “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Love Actually
Performed By: Olivia Olson

I will admit I have a guilty pleasure when it comes to Holiday movies. Many people would categorize Love Actually as a “chick flick,” but I adore the ensemble comedy and am not ashamed to say it proud. Of all the various love stories occurring simultaneously in the movie, none is more precious than the innocent crush that young Sam has on his American classmate Joanna. Sam works around the clock to learn the drums just to impress the girl of his dreams and we get to see his work pay off in the school’s Christmas concert, for which young Joanna has a solo. I’d like to see the Grinch whose heart doesn’t leap for joy when Joanna turns and points to Sam as she sings “all I want for Christmas is YOU”. That emotional peak is crushed a split second later as she turns and points to everywhere in the audience saying “and you, and you, and you…” It’s a hilarious moment that is well-directed by Richard Curtis.

1) “White Christmas” – Holiday Inn
Performed By: Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds

The song “White Christmas” has been performed numerous times in films and on television and inspired an entire Holiday movie. However, I will take the original performance of the song any day. That performance was in the film Holiday Inn and performed by the master of Holiday tunes, Bing Crosby, and his co-star Marjorie Reynolds. The scene is a simple one. Jim Hardy (Crosby) is distraught by his inability to keep love and a steady job and he decides to reveal a special song he’d been working on to Linda Mason (Reynolds). What follows was destined to become one of the most popular Christmas songs of all-time. What more can be said about the classic scene? Enjoy!

There you have it. Hopefully that helped with the Holiday spirit. What’s your favorite Christmas song?

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  • Kris H

    Thank you, Alex for putting this together. I loved the music. Isn’t it a most powerful medium? My favorite was your number 3 with Judy G. You brought some great memories back for me with these 10 and added a little more happiness to my Christmas season. Happy Holidays!

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