Culture

The definitive 13 biggest, campest and best Christmas songs from our favourite big pop girls

Patrick Kelleher December 11, 2021
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Kylie and Mariah

Kylie and Mariah, two of the three wise men. (PinkNews)

The Christmas season is almost upon us, which means that it’s officially time for us to wheel out all our favourite tunes from the big pop girls once again.

The world loves replaying all of the same old songs at this time of year, but you’ve probably noticed that most of them are objectively bad. Are you sick of hearing “Fairytale of New York” absolutely everywhere you go? Are you tired of being forced to listen to Wizzard, Frank Sinatra, and other boring men at every turn?

Of course you are – which is why it’s time for us to bring you our list of the best, campest, most iconic Christmas songs from all of our favourite big pop girls.

So what are you waiting for? Get your glittery Santa Clause outfit ready and pour yourself a glass of wine. It’s time for us to look back on the big pop girls’ best Christmassy moments.

1. Mariah Carey – ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’

Every now and again, a truly perfect song emerges – and Mariah Carey’s magnum opus “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is one of those songs.

Mariah essentially created the blueprint for the big pop girl Christmas song when she dropped this iconic track all the way back in 1994. It truly doesn’t get any better than this – from the opening notes to Mariah’s truly over-the-top riffing, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the very definition of camp.

The song has proven an enduring classic too – each year, it seems to grow in popularity. It’s basically the gay version of “Fairytale of New York” – while straight people like to dabble in a bit of festive misery, queer people instead go for explosive joy each time.

2. Ariana Grande – ‘Santa Tell Me’

Shortly before Mariah Carey unleashed “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, she was rushed to hospital one fateful night so she could give birth to her daughter, Ariana Grande.

OK – that’s not true, but we can all agree that Ariana is at the very least Mariah’s spiritual daughter, even if they’re not biologically related.

Ariana blessed the world with her own Christmas anthem, “Santa Tell Me”, in 2014 – a full two decades after Mariah released her classic song.

Since then, “Santa Tell Me” has become a modern-day classic, and it’s an enduring example of one of the big pop girls serving us festive joy at a time of the year when we need it most.

3. Britney Spears – ‘My Only Wish (This Year)’

Britney was truly all of us when she released “My Only Wish (This Year)” in 2000.

“Last night I took a walk in the snow / Couples holding hands, places to go / Seems like everyone but me is in love / Santa, can you hear me?” Britney sings on “My Only Wish (This Year)”.

She truly captured the frustration that comes with being single at Christmas and finding yourself left with no option but to plead with Santa to leave you a boyfriend under the tree.

In what is best described as an act of homophobia, “My Only Wish (This Year)” was released to mixed reviews in 2000, when it first appeared on the compilation album Platinum Christmas. In the years since, it has rightly been recognised as the iconic Christmas song it really is.

4. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Underneath the Tree’

Like many others, Kelly Clarkson took her vocal baton from the queen that is Mariah Carey – and the world is all the better for it.

After Kelly won American Idol, she could have just as easily faded into the background. Instead, she has encountered enormous success – and her vocal prowess is (almost) unmatched.

She proved that on “Underneath the Tree”, her 2013 Christmas song. It’s exactly what queer people need from a festive anthem – it’s upbeat, fun, dramatic, and includes plenty of vocal acrobatics.

It’s not going to win any awards for originality anytime soon – but that’s not what any of us want from a Christmas song.

5. Kylie Minogue – ‘Christmas Isn’t Christmas ‘Til You Get Here’

In 2015, Kylie – having already mastered pop music – decided to turn her hand to Christmas music, and we’re still so glad she did.

Her Christmas album is truly mesmerising – she even resurrected Frank Sinatra briefly from the dead to jump on her version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. It really goes to show Kylie’s power – not only is she one of our favourite pop girls, she’s also a necromancer supreme.

Possibly the stand-out track on her Christmas album is “Christmas Isn’t Christmas ‘Til You Get Here”, a glittering, expertly crafted festive pop song that sees Kylie getting ready for her lover to arrive for the festive season.

Thankfully, the song ends with Kylie’s lover finally arriving so she can celebrate the festive season in style. It’s a story for the ages.

6. Kylie Minogue – ‘At Christmas’

As we all know, Kylie’s Christmas album is, in fact, a concept album that tells a story from start to finish (this is a lie, but we would encourage you to listen to it as a concept album anyway).

“At Christmas” really gives you the sense that Kylie considered a conceptual framework for her Christmas album. “At Christmas” seems to be set roughly a year after the events of “Christmas Isn’t Christmas ‘Til You Get Here” – Kylie was once in love, but now, as the festive season approaches, she’s missing her former lover after going through a nasty break-up.

The devastating Christmas break-up anthem is very much in the style of Wham! in that it brings us some much-needed festive heartbreak. Kylie sings about building a snowman by herself and she confesses she wishes her former lover could be her Christmas present.

To make matters even more tragic, the song doesn’t end with Kylie and her old flame getting back together. It was Kylie’s way of making us all feel seen at the most wonderful time of the year.

7. Katy Perry – ‘Cozy Little Christmas’

Remember back in the day when everyone was absolutely obsessed with Katy Perry and you couldn’t move without hearing “Roar” or “Firework”?

Well, those days are over – but Katy is still churning out bops, even if the general public has wistfully moved on.

Katy proved that she’s still dedicated to the art of a good pop song when she released “Cozy Little Christmas” in 2018. It’s all very camp – particularly the part where she breaks character to deliver a spoken word treatise on why she doesn’t need Cartier jewels for Christmas.

8. Leona Lewis – ‘One More Sleep’

Leona Lewis is no stranger to vocal acrobatics, which is exactly what makes “One More Sleep” such an addictive Christmas bop.

The song’s structure is a simple one – it sees Leona counting down the days until Christmas so she can see her lover once more. You might have noticed that this is a recurring theme in the world of Christmas pop songs – and we’re absolutely fine with that.

Notably, the song’s title is actually incredibly deceptive – keen Leona Lewis stans will have noticed that she does not in fact have one more sleep to go until she sees her lover. The truth is that Christmas is still days away, and she is looking forward to Christmas Eve because she will then have one more sleep to go.

It’s not every day one of the big pop girls disrupts the very definition of time, but we are 100 per cent here for it.

9. Destiny’s Child – ‘8 Days of Christmas’

Here’s a thought – have you ever considered the possibility that Destiny’s Child’s classic Christmas song “8 Days of Christmas” and the 2015 film Carol are actually set in the same world?

Carol opens in a department store at Christmas-time, with Cate Blanchett meeting her new flame as she buys a train-set for her daughter. Coincidentally (or not so coincidentally!) the music video for “8 Days of Christmas” also opens with the trio in a department store at Christmas.

Arbitrary connections aside, Destiny Child really pulled it out of the bag (or sack, if you will) with this Christmas anthem. Ever the pop icons, they clearly recognised that the original “12 Days of Christmas” was simply too long.

They also recognised the harsh realities of capitalism which mean the holidays are never 12 days long – especially if you work in retail – which is why they cut four days out.

It’s a socialist Christmas anthem for the ages, and it’s one we always return to at this time of the year.

10. Kacey Musgraves – ‘Ribbons And Bows’

Kacey Musgraves, the country star who has crossed over into being one of the big pop girls, has a Christmas song for every occasion – but “Ribbons And Bows” is probably the most fun.

Most of the big pop girls wait until they’re firmly established big pop girls before they record their Christmas albums, but Kacey wasn’t interested in such bland restrictions. She released her Christmas album A Very Kacey Christmas in 2016, two years before her mainstream breakthrough Golden Hour earned her a Grammy.

Like many Christmas songs before it, “Ribbons And Bows” sees Kacey singing about how she doesn’t need gifts for Christmas – she just needs love. It’s everything we ever wanted and needed in a festive classic.

11. Gwen Stefani – ‘You Make It Feel Like Christmas’

Gwen Stefani well and truly delivered big pop girl energy when she released “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” with country star Blake Shelton (who she has since married).

The song sees Gwen and Blake singing about how much they love each other and how their other half makes it feel like Christmas. It might all feel very straight, but if you’re in doubt, just remember it’s Gwen Stefani singing.

The song delivers some classic festive vibes – you might say it makes it feel like Christmas (see what we did there?)

12. Taylor Swift – ‘Christmas Tree Farm’

It wouldn’t be a list of the big pop girls’ Christmas songs without Taylor Swift – and thankfully, she too has recorded a Christmas song to ensure she wouldn’t be left off this list.

You would be forgiven for thinking Taylor Swift might be too busy to record Christmas music – after all, she releases a new album once every six weeks, and she’s also re-recording all her past albums – but she very kindly set some time aside in 2019 to give us “Christmas Tree Farm”.

In the song, Taylor escapes the hustle and bustle of Christmas by imagining she’s at the Christmas tree farm she frequented as a child. The lyrics are basically the same as the plot of every Hallmark Christmas film, but we’re not complaining – that’s how Taylor reels in the gays while also tossing a tidbit to the straight community who are, of course, well known for having bad taste.

13. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries’

Most artists settle for selling us a glorified version of Christmas that ignores the many tensions and frustrations that inevitably come with the festive season – but not Carly Rae Jepsen.

On “It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries”, Carly Rae follows in the tradition of Charles Dickins and other 19th century novelists by giving us a realist interpretation of the festive season.

The song sees Carly Rae confronting the fact that Christmas is actually a bit of a nightmare – and it’ll probably end with someone crying or a drunken row with your Tory aunt (we’ve all been there).

More: Britney Spears, Carly Rae Jepsen, Christmas, Destiny's Child, kacey musgraves, mariah carey kylie minogue, pop music

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