There are so many things to love about the holidays from sipping hot cocoa to seeing the pretty Christmas lights, but one of the best things are the TV specials. Whether they’re cheesy, heartbreaking, touching, or funny, holiday specials have a special place in our hearts. For many, it’s part of their holiday tradition. Along with these specials comes great, memorable music. Sometimes the music in these holiday classics is better than the stuff playing in the malls. So if you’re looking for some Christmas music to put you in the holiday spirit or just need a nostalgia boost, check out these memorable songs from Christmas specials. And while songs like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Frosty the Snowman” are featured in holiday classics, they were written before the TV specials and won’t be featured here. But make sure to check them out because it’s not Christmas without those songs!
“Hardrock, Coco, and Joe”
Unless you live in Chicago you probably aren’t familiar with this Christmas short. Made in the 1950s, Hardrock, Coco, and Joe is a stop-motion short based on the song of the same name written by Stuart Hamblen. The song talks about three of Santa’s elves, who help out the big man deliver toys. The song is pretty repetitive and the animation is crude; the elves end up looking terrifying instead of cute. But ever since I first saw this cartoon six years ago, it always pops into my head this time of year. What sticks out the most? The oddly infectious hook of “I’m Hardrock, I’m Coco, I’m Jooooooe.” Joe’s part gets me every time.
“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” from A Chipmunk Christmas
The Chipmunks are one of the most baffling products of the 50s. It’s bad enough that they already sounded awful but then came multiple albums because nothing is better than listening to a bunch of squeakers shrill in your ear. But it wouldn’t be Christmas if this song wasn’t played at least once. Though I’ve always hated the song, in recent years it’s grown on me. It’s still annoying as hell and warrants only one listen. But, it’s fun and pretty goofy. And who doesn’t love singing “I just want a hula hoop?” Does this mean you should listen to the Chipmunk’s Christmas album? No. No, it does not.
“Christmas Time is Here” from Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown is still one of the best holiday specials and it boasts one of the most beloved soundtracks. All of the songs are great, from the upbeat and jaunty “Linus and Lucy” to the jazzy instrumental rendition of “O Christmas Tree.” But the one song that’s perfect for ushering in the season is “Christmas Time is Here.” Something about the soft piano and hushed children’s choir makes it a relaxing holiday classic. Imagine a gentle snowfall outside or the fire crackling while listening to it. It’s practically perfect. It’s also innocent and kind, which is the nature the holiday brings.
“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Most holiday songs are upbeat, jolly tunes about finding the joy and love during the season. That’s not the case with this classic from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Sung by the unforgettable Thurl Ravenscroft, the song insults the Grinch and talks about how unpleasant he is. He’s compared to a cactus, has termites in his smile, and he’s so bad a seasick crocodile is better company. But the highlight of the song is when Ravenscroft sticks it to the green grump by describing him as “stink, stank, stunk!” The biting lyrics and the cool baritone of Ravenscroft make this a timeless Christmas tune that makes you smile even if it is about a grouch.
“Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo”from “Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo”
South Park gave us one of the best and most disgusting Christmas characters in TV Land: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. Introduced in South Park’s very first Christmas special, Mr. Hankey’s high-pitched voice, and Disney-like demeanor makes him kind of cute, but he’s also poo, which is something the song doesn’t let you forget. The tune is upbeat and happy, like any other holiday song, but it spends the entire time talking about poop and it’s different forms: watery, chunky, and how it hangs off of your ass sometimes. It’s simultaneously funny and cringy, which is what we expect from Matt and Trey at this point.
“Can’t Wait til Christmas” from A Garfield Christmas
This Garfield holiday tune may not be well remembered, but it’s charming and funny. What I like so much about this song, aside from the catchy beat, is how it presents different views on Christmas. Jon sings about having a great time putting up the tree, the lights, and waiting for Santa. Garfield sees none of these activities as pleasant and refers to them as chores and electrical contracting. He then refers to losing sleep waiting for Christmas to arrive as filling kids with insomnia and anxiety. It’s short, but cute and will remind you of that one person you know who just doesn’t like Christmas.
“Snow Miser/Heat Miser Song” from The Year Without A Santa Claus
There are plenty of songs in the popular Renkin and Bass Christmas specials, but they’re usually cheesy or the holiday classics we already love. But these two tunes from The Year Without a Santa Claus add a little pep and sass to the holiday season. With a jazzy vibe and playful trumpet, the Snow and Heat Miser both get their chance to talk about their favorite weather conditions. The Snow Miser’s version is a bit more upbeat and jaunty, while Heat Miser’s is more slow and lumbering. Both stand out from the usual Christmas song fare, making them some of the tunes from these cheesy, but beloved specials.
“Ho Ho Dance” from Rocko’s Modern Christmas
Nicktoons had some of the greatest, and in Doug’s case saddest, Christmas specials. The Rocko’s Modern Life special stands out for being charming, funny, and a little sad, but one of the best things about it is the music. It mixes traditional instrumental holiday tunes with a rock flair to make them really stand out, but my favorite has always been the “Ho Ho Dance.” It’s nothing but “ho ho ho/ho ho ho ho ho ho” being repeated over a 90s club beat. It’s a fun, short tune sure to get you dancing when it comes on. Why don’t more Christmas songs make you feel like starting a party?
“Boogie Woogie Christmas” from Arthur’s Perfect Christmas
There aren’t enough holiday songs that make you want to rock out and dance. Arthur’s Perfect Christmas fixes this with the simple and satisfying “Boogie Woogie Christmas.” In a similar vain to “Rock n Roll Christmas,” the song is upbeat and fun with the infectious hook of “have a boogie woogie Christmas and rocking and reeling new year!” It’s kind of generic, but if you watched this special as a kid, it makes you want to dance and sing as soon as you hear it. Also, it’s the least sappy song in the entire special. And that “Tina the Talking Tabby” jingle isn’t bad either; just don’t tell Arthur I said that.
“Christmas Rules” from “A Christmas Carol”
Though some may disagree, The Looney Tunes Show was the best update to these classic characters. Other attempts were horrible, but this show kept the toons’ personalities and stuck them in a modern setting, which made for some amusing situations. During the episode “A Christmas Carol” all the Merrie Melodie characters burst out in song and exclaim what makes Christmas awesome. For some, it’s presents, for others, it’s stuffing their faces. Each iconic character gets their own part with Daffy Duck mentioning glitter bombs, the red hairy monster talking about school closings, and Elmer Fudd drowning his sorrows in candy canes. Okay, so that part is more sad than funny, but the rest of the song is upbeat and jolly, sure to put you in a good mood.
“Welcome Christmas” from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
There’s already a song from The Grinch on the list, but this one was too good to leave off. The Whos down in Whoville kept the spirit and joy of Christmas alive with the uplifting, cheery tune. Though you can’t understand what they’re saying, hearing their joyful singing and the bright music makes you smile. Even the Grinch smiled when he heard this song. It’s a festive, happy way to ring in the holiday season and marks a highlight in one of the all-time best Christmas specials ever. Let’s try to forget the movie, though…maybe that one wasn’t so great.
“Pokemon Christmas Bash”
This one isn’t from a holiday special, but it was too good to not talk about. Prior to working on this list, I had no idea there was a Pokemon Christmas song. And yes, all of them are as cheesy as you think. But this holiday tune is so corny, it’s kind of good. Based off the “Who’s that Pokemon?” game, the song features Ash, Misty, Brock, and Team Rocket spitting rhymes about what they want for Christmas. Yes, they are actually rapping! And Brock’s is the creepiest since he wants to find Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny under his tree. There’s even remixes of Squirtle and Pikachu’s cries. It’s one of those things you need to hear to believe. It’s definitely something we probably thought was cool as kids and is a weird, cheesy, novelty now. Still lots of fun, though.
Which one of these is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!