The Top 20 Holiday Songs in Retail for 2015

Last week, we shared our list of the top holiday songs in retail for the first time. Culled from song playback data during this holiday season across our 400+ brands, this list of the Top 20 Holiday Songs Played in Retail is indicative of songs you’re most likely to hear while you’re out perusing the big sales, flipping through racks of sweaters, or sorting through piles of The Force Awakens merchandise.

For each of our clients, we develop a music strategy that’s based on a number of factors, including brand and marketing initiatives, target audiences, touch points, products and services, seasonality, and more. We then build playlists that align with these strategies, resulting in highly-tailored music programs that translate each brand’s identity into sound.

Classics, Covers and Co-Penned Originals

When it comes to holiday music, classics and covers always tend to reign supreme, so first off I have to say “congrats” to Kelly Clarkson for another American Idol first: co-penning one of the only original, contemporary songs on the list of top 20 holiday shopping songs, “Underneath the Tree.”

A little sentiment goes a long way during the holidays, so evergreen playlist staples like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” (the second highest grossing song of all time) and the super-sentimental “Christmas Time is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, a nostalgic track that evokes the collective vibe of quiet fireside-nights watching Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew, also made the list.

One exciting thing about this list is seeing new artists sneak in alongside the classics, and create a bridge between audiences. New crooners like Sam Smith and the 5-part lulling harmonies of Sing-Off winners Pentatonix made the top 20. Meanwhile, the precious pairing of She & Him takes some of the cloy out of the always popular “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and makes the song sound more sweet than dated.

A Hidden Gem

Some people might be surprised that the more obscure “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses receives a ton of airplay in retail stores over the holidays, but we’re not: it’s a fun, upbeat song with a catchy guitar riff, jingly bells, sing-along refrains, and an un-ironic horn. It’s a track that seems to have hit a sweet spot across generations, capturing the attention of Gen X-ers who actually remember the band, as well as millennials who think it’s some modern indie pop band mining the retro 80s and 90s for a fresh sound.

Retail’s Top Pick

Finally, it takes a lot to de-throne the holiday queen Mariah Carey with her ubiquitous holiday now-standard “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which has been the most-played song in our customers’ retail stores almost every year since its release in 1994, but this year it happened. Drum roll please… It’s The Shins and their grittier reimagining of Paul McCartney’s almost too-sweet “Wonderful Christmastime.” Don’t worry though, holiday purists. McCartney’s version is on the list too.

 

Here’s the full list. Happy shopping!

1. Shins “Wonderful Christmastime”

2. Mariah Carey “All I want For Christmas Is You”

3. Christina Aguilera “Christmas Time”

4. Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping”
5. Jack Johnson “Someday At Christmas”
6. Kelly Clarkson “Underneath The Tree”
7. Michael Buble “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
8. Bing Crosby “White Christmas”
9. Train “What Christmas Means To Me”
10. Ella Fitzgerald “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
11. Coldplay “Christmas Lights”
12. Jose Feliciano “Feliz Navidad”
13. Sharon Jones/Dap Kings “White Christmas”
14. Vince Guaraldi Trio “Christmas Time Is Here”
15. Sam Smith “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
16. Pentatonix “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”
17. Paul McCartney “Wonderful Christmastime”
18. She & Him “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
19. Elvis Presley “Blue Christmas”
20. Darlene Love “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

 

The list of Top 20 Holiday Songs in Retail was compiled based on our weekly song usage royalty reporting (to verify playback) and is subject to number of locations and song list length. The songs you find on this list are the most frequently played tracks at our client locations based on their inclusion in each brand’s music strategy and playlists.

Julia Cummings

About Julia Cummings

Hello my name is Julia Cummings and I am the music services director at PlayNetwork. I have been in the industry for 15+ years.

My dad played bass in a Dixieland band so I was dancing around to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” long before I understood how to misbehave. Growing up I had a healthy diet of the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, and Otis Redding. My diverse record collection would confuse someone who might try to pigeonhole my musical taste. When people ask me what genre of music is my favorite: I always say I like music that is, well, genuine.

Spending a lifetime as a sponge absorbing music led me to pursue audio production. Prior to starting with PlayNetwork in 2005, I did some time as a production assistant and a remote broadcast engineer at KEXP-FM and as a board operator at KWJZ-FM. And like all radio mythologies, I got a fill-in shift at KWJZ-FM and ended up keeping the weekend slot for a year.

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