Written by Brett Gibbons

Unpopular opinion: Christmas music sucks. Especially when it comes from your favorite artists.

Blake Shelton singing me Jingle Bell Rock just feels like a faithless cash grab put together by a record label that decided he needed some music released in late November. If you like it, that’s fine.

Sometimes, though, my hmm’s and haw’s when listening to the latest country Christmas release is followed by pleasant surprise. After all, I’d rather listen to Brett Eldridge’s Christmas album twenty times back-to-back than All I Want For Christmas Is You once.

So, if you’re felling holly and jolly, here’s some fine country Christmas songs to add to your cookie decorating playlist.

Christmas Cookies, George Strait

Yes, even King George has released his share of Christmas tunes, but none quite land like Christmas Cookies. It’s an original that hits so hard that it’s the title track of a country Christmas album by various artists. It’s everything a Christmas song should be– goofy, catchy, and not too deep.

There’s not terribly much to say about this except that, it’s not the worst song you’ve ever heard, which is usually the case with original Christmas songs these days. I’ll admit, this song is solid, Christmas season or not.

Run, Run Rudolph, Luke Bryan

I’m not sure if Run, Run Rudolph is always a country song, but it’s covered by a ton of country artists and it has elements that sound like it’s a country song. My favorite of them is the one by Luke Bryan. He’s got the voice for it and the song sounds like it could be an original by him.

Other artists that have solid renditions of this classic include Randall King, Lynyard Skynyrd, and Sara Evans. It’s another Christmas song that doesn’t take itself seriously. Make this one a staple at your next Christmas gathering.

Blue Christmas, Tyler Farr

This song was originally cut by Charles Brown, but has been made famous by Elvis and, I guess, Michael Buble. However, my favorite rendition might be by Tyler Farr. His voice is perfectly suited for this kind of song and, because Tyler Farr’s song library is fairly limited, this is a great song.

You won’t find this one on many Spotify or Pandora-made playlists, but it’s absolutely worth an add to your holiday party playlist. Granted, Blue Christmas is a bit deeper and sadder than your average Jingle Bells, it’s a dang good song.

Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy, Brad Paisley

Note: the above photo is not photoshopped by Tailgate Country– that really exists. Brad Paisley’s Christmas album is actually not bad. He keeps the iconic Paisley sound– Telecaster and all. I think Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy is the best track off it because of the guitar breaks.

Other songs off his Christmas album include Penguin, James Penguin (a Brad Paisley original) and Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday (with plenty of Nashville legends). This Christmas album is pretty interesting, mixed with plenty of classics and originals.

The Only Present I Want, CJ Solar

This is one of the best things to come out of 2020. CJ Solar’s original release (written with Andy Scott Wills and Devin Barker) is a country song that happens to take place around Christmas. It’s got a little country, a little R&B, a little rock and a whole lotta Christmas.

The first thing I usually do to original Christmas songs– especially in modern music genres– is roll my eyes. But this one is legit. Save it for this year, next year, and the year after that. The lyrics are heavy enough to make you think, but the sound is great for a country Christmas playlist that won’t bring a party mood down.

Jingle Bell Rock, Dylan Scott

No matter what you think about his other music, Dylan Scott has the ideal voice for traditional country covers (Don’t Close Your Eyes) and Christmas songs. He has an 11-song Christmas album and all of it’s pretty good, but this song is one of the better Christmas songs in general, so it gets the nod.

Last Christmas, Taylor Swift

There’s two kinds of people in this world: those who love old Taylor Swift and liars. Surprise– she’s got a 2008 Christmas EP with six songs on it. Last Christmas is the best song off it, though any of the six are acceptable to put on your Christmas party playlist.

Last Christmas really fits the T-Swift style and theme of the mid-2000s, likely moreso than any other Christmas song. Judge if you may, but there’s no shame in mid-2000s Taylor Swift on this site.

Don’t expect to find a Tailgate Country Christmas playlist anytime soon, but this is a good base to get you started. To be clear, I love Christmas. Just not modern takes on classic Christmas songs.

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