The holiday season has officially began! And for us holiday fanatics, this also means the beginning of seasonal celebrations – good food, great present, and of course, cheerful holiday music. For those with a old-fashioned Caribbean Christmas in mind, we’ve rounded up our favorite reggae Christmas songs for your holiday playlist. With a mix of traditional carols, witty pop songs, and classic roots rhythms, feel free to play these tunes well in January.
Sound The Trumpets: The Wailers
We love this tune, which is one of the few holiday songs recorded by The Wailers (Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and of course, Bob Marley). Recorded in the band’s early days, the song has an infection ska rhythm and amazing lead vocals from Marley. Recorded at the legendary Studio One, the track echoes a “Deck the Halls” melody and a lovely trumpet solo from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Mary’s Boy Child: Boney M
Though written by American songwriter and composer Jester Hairston, this song’s infectious calypso beat made it an instant hit with generations of Caribbean performers. Harry Belafonte recorded this tune first in 1956, backed by an etherial orchestra. Many other have followed him, but we love this disco-tinged version by the pan-Caribbean group, Boney M. This version bring the group’s classic combo of Caribbean folk classics with electro beats.
Santa Claus Never Comes To The Ghetto: Yellowman
We easily could have chosen the original amazing track “Santa Claus, Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto,” the amazing Carlene Davis song released in 1981. (Read our special interview with Davis on her new album here.) But we love the dancehall twist on the song by the one and only Yellowman. Among the season’s decadent festivities, we love how this song also reminds us of social inequality, and what we owe each other.
Santa Claus Is Ska-ing To Town: The Granville Williams Orchestra
Sometimes you need a big full sound for a Christmas carol. So we love this classic cover of this holiday tune by The Granville Williams Orchestra, released in 1964. Big band saxophones and trumpet fill out the luscious melody, as a classic ska rhythm keeps the beat. This beautiful arrangement was also all done by Jamaican ska legend, Ernest Ranglin. It’s the perfect background instrumental for this year’s classy Caribbean Christmas party.
Happy Christmas: Toots & The Maytals
At the high of their roots reggae powers in 1974, Toots and The Maytals released this stunning track for the holidays. Tinged with their classic gospel sound, the song also features a passionate vocal performance from Toots. All proof positive that the legendary singer is one of reggae’s best front men. The result is a cheerful Christmas tune beaming with raw joy and positivity.