We don’t want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing we need: a kick-ass playlist of contemporary holiday pop songs that we can blast from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, helping to ensure that this year, our friends and family have the hap-hap-happiest holidays since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny Fuckin’ Kaye. And that is just what we set out to give you, as the Great Pop Culture Debate is serving up 32 modern classics in our mission to name the Best Holiday Pop Song from 1980 to 2020.

Host Eric Rezsnyak and panelists Curtis Creekmore, Heather Maclean, and Kate Racculia get into the holiday spirit by debating the holliest, jolliest holiday songs of the past 40 years.

If you want to listen to the Top 32 songs (plus some extra picks by our panel!), here’s a playlist. If you want even more modern holiday pop songs, we made a separate playlist featuring song suggestions by our listeners!

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The Round 1 match-ups are:

Match-Up 1: “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey vs. “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You” by Billy Squier

Match-Up 2: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by John Legend & Kelly Clarkson vs. “Winter Wonderland” by Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Match-Up 3: “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton vs. “Christmas in Hollis” by Run D.M.C.

Match-Up 4: “White Christmas” by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings vs. “Where Are You Christmas?” by Faith Hill

Match-Up 5: “Last Christmas” by WHAM! vs. “Happy Christmas (War Is Over” by Maroon 5

Match-Up 6: “Santa Baby” by Madonna vs. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” by Pointer Sisters

Match-Up 7: “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses vs. “We Need a Little Christmas” by “GLEE” Cast

Match-Up 8: “My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears vs. “The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler

Match-Up 9: “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Whitney Houston vs. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Sam Smith

Match-Up 10: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by U2 vs. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson

Match-Up 11: “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band-Aid vs. “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues

Match-Up 12: “Mele Kalikimaka” by KT Tunstall vs. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Buble

Match-Up 13: “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by NSYNC vs. “Sleigh Ride” by TLC

Match-Up 14: “Merry Christmas Baby” by Bruce Springsteen vs. “Winter Wonderland” by Eurythmics

Match-Up 15: “Carol of the Bells” by Pentatonix vs. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by John Mellencamp

Match-Up 16: “Christmas All Over Again” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers vs. “Dick In a Box” by The Lonely Island & Justin Timberlake

Discover which songs the panel advanced by listening Part 2!

Want to play along at home?

Find the listener bracket for this episode by clicking here. Download a copy, make your own choices, and see how you stack up against our panelists!

Looking for more related content?

Check out these other episodes from Great Pop Culture Debate:

Best Holiday Pop Song (1980-2020) Part 2

Best Classic Holiday Song

Best Holiday Album

Also make sure to check out our Visual Puzzle featuring iconic Movie Santas!

Have a say in future episodes!

Finally, if you want to have a say in what episodes we tackle next, vote in our Topic Polls! And we would love to have you pick your faves in the polls currently open for your votes!

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Host: Eric Rezsnyak

Panel: Curtis Creekmore, Heather Maclean, Kate Racculia

Producer: Mike Rapin

Editor: Jeffery Perry

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