Spotify analysis reveals the 10 most popular Christmas songs

24 December 2020 3 min. read
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As music lovers around the world look to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, many seem to only want one thing for Christmas: a traditional selection of seasonal songs still featuring the likes of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. According to an analysis of Spotify data, however, Mariah Carey is still the undisputed Queen of Christmas, appearing on more than half of all festive playlists, while Michael Bublé and Ariana Grande have also become modern seasonal staples.

As of the third quarter of 2020, online music streaming platform Spotify had 286 million monthly active users. In a bid to find out whether this new digitally savvy generation of music fans still favour the Christmas classics of old, researchers from Netherlands based consultancy Verdonck, Klooster & Associates (VKA) have gathered all the songs that have been put into a Christmas playlist on the app. This not only includes all playlists in English, but also songs favoured by people from more than 100 other languages.

Using machine learning, the consultants mixed the reams of data together to conclude that the following 10 songs were the most popular Christmas songs on Spotify:

The top 10 most popular Christmas songs (featured in the most playlists)

  1. All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey (43.2%)
  2. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams (27.8%)
  3. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas – Michael Bublé (26.1%)
  4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) –John Lennon (23.9%)
  5. Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande (23.2%)
  6. Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson (20.7%)
  7. Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley (20.1%)
  8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Mariah Carey (17.4%)
  9. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys (17.2%)
  10. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé (16.7%)

Written by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff, 1994’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ originally spent three weeks at number two in the UK charts, kept from the coveted Christmas Number One spot by East 17's ‘Stay Another Day’. While the British boy band has long since faded into obscurity, however, Carey’s hit has clearly stood the test of time in the years since – alongside her cover of the 1960s classic ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’.

Andy Williams’ original 1963 version of ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ meanwhile shows that many Spotify listeners are more than happy to still seek out the seasonal staples of longer ago, in spite of it being covered by a number of other popular Christmas artists in the intervening period. One of those is bane of all retail workers Michael Bublé, whose version of ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas’ still managed to find it’s way into more than a quarter of all Holiday playlists – while the Christmas crooner’s ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ also managed to make the top 10.

Spotify listeners’ mixture of old and new tastes was similarly reflected by their outright favoured artists. According to VKA’s research, while Carey and Bublé  still held on to the top spots, and were joined by Ariana Grande in 10th, the bulk of top-streaming Christmas artists were from much longer ago. Brenda Lee, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole are still the first port of call for many listeners looking to get into the spirit of the season.

The 10 most popular artists for Christmas songs:

  1. Mariah Carey (56.9%)
  2. Michael Bublé (51.1%)
  3. Wham! (45.6%)
  4. Brenda Lee (44.5%)
  5. Frank Sinatra (44.1%)
  6. Bing Crosby (42.3%)
  7. Andy Williams (42%)
  8. Dean Martin (40.3%)
  9. Nat King Cole (36.9%)
  10. Ariana Grande (36.7%)