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5 Best ’80s Christmas Songs for Your Driving Playlist

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george michael wham last christmas

How anyone could break George Michael’s heart–especially on Christmas–is beyond me

The 1980s was a decade known for flamboyance, bright clothes, and movies like The Goonies and Ghostbusters. But the ’80s also produced a variety of Christmas songs that remain popular to this day. If you want to mix up your playlist, check out our suggestions and enjoy the season ’80s-style.

“Last Christmas” – Wham! (1984)

No ’80s Christmas song list would be complete without mentioning Wham!’s legendary hit from 1984-85. The jingling bells, George Michael’s big hair, the snow-covered scenery… the entire song screams “Christmas.” It’s since been covered by numerous artists, from Crazy Frog (yes, really) to Billie Piper (who enjoyed a brief pop career before rocketing to fame on Doctor Who), but none of the subsequent versions hold a candle to the original.

“Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (1988)

Most Christmas songs talk of the joy and happiness of the season. The Pogues’ and Kirsty MaColl’s still-famous song certainly starts out that way, but it soon takes a turn for the worst with lyrics like “Happy Christmas you arse, I pray God it’s our last.” Despite its slightly dark twist, “Fairytale of New York” remains one of the best Christmas songs out there. Even though Shane MacGowen’s teeth (or lack thereof) are quite distracting.

“2000 Miles” – The Pretenders (1983)

Although not originally intended as a Christmas song, The Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” is commonly featured on Christmas compilation albums. Many people think that the song is about long-distance lovers, but it was actually written for The Pretenders’ original guitar player, James Honeyman-Scott, who died in 1982.

“Christmas in Hollis” – RUN-DMC (1988)

While you might not automatically associate rap artists with Christmas songs, RUN-DMC’s 1988 classic “Christmas in Hollis” did its best to smash that stereotype. The song refers to Hollis, which is the neighborhood in Queens where the band’s members grew up, and samples tunes like “Frosty the Snowman,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Joy to the World.” The song and video are just as epic today as they were in 1988.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid (1984)

Irish singer/songwriter/author/actor/activist Bob Geldof was deeply moved by television reports of famine in Ethoipia in the early ’80s, and decided to challenge the pop world to do something about it. The result was “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”—a song recorded by a group of famous singers that included Bono, Boy George, George Michael, Sting, and Duran Duran. The song raised £8 million for Ethiopia in the 12 months following its release.

  • Cat HilesManaging Editor

    Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.