The Twelve Days of Christmas Classics is on! EW is putting the best versions of the most-covered Christmas songs up to a daily vote to compile the ultimate holiday playlist. (We’ve already covered “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “The Christmas Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Let It Snow!”) If your favorite singer isn’t in the list below, you better not pout: Each artist will only appear once throughout the 12 days. Listen to our top six, vote for your favorite, and let us know why you made your pick in the comments below.
UPDATE: The polls are closed, and we have our winners! Listen to YOUR ultimate holiday playlist here.
Who would have thought that a 1941 carol about giving the gift of drumming to an infant would become a mainstream hit that still resonates today? In fact, “The Little Drummer Boy” is the only religious song in the top 25 most-performed Christmas songs of all time.
Our favorite six covers run the gamut from rock and roll to hip-hop, and one version even bridged the generational gap at a very divisive time in pop culture. Come, we told you – parum-pum-pum-pum! – and vote for your favorite below:
Johnny Cash (1963)
Whether singing about shooting a man just to watch him die or the drummer boy who played for the baby Jesus, the Man in Black brings his deep-voiced cool. Our favorite part about this version is the fact that Cash never sings a “parum-pum-pum-pum,” instead leaving the drum parts to the much more upbeat female chorus backing him up.
Bing Crosby and David Bowie (1977)
This version is EVERYTHING. Back in 1977, the straitlaced Bing and subversive Bowie teamed up for a lovely take on the Christmas classic, interspersed with an original tune, “Peace on Earth.” Bowie has said he agreed to the TV special, titled Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, because his mum loved Crosby. The White Christmas actor/singer died five weeks after filming, leaving behind this wonderful gift.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1981)
If you love rock and roll, this is your version. Joan Jett brings her gritty guitars and, of course, a steady rock drum line to the Christmas standard. (How else is she going to lead the Three Kings to the manger?)
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (1987)
Apparently, rockers love “The Little Drummer Boy.” But the Detroit legend strikes a balance between rock and gospel with his passionate vocals and the full chorus singing with him.
Lauryn Hill (1999)
Just to show you how late-’90s this version is, it originally appeared on Rosie O’Donnell’s charity album A Rosie Christmas. This cover is just as cool as everything else the former Fugees singer did in her heyday. Come back to us, Lauryn!
The season 3 winners of The Sing-Off have struck a serious chord with their holiday album, PTXmas, which is currently No. 3 on the iTunes albums chart. A big part of that is their a cappella version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” which has racked up more than 17 million views on YouTube so far. See for yourself below:
How did you pick your favorite? Make your case in the comments below! And hurry up: Voting closes daily at midnight ET.