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Philly is undoubtedly one of the greatest music cities in the world. From “American Bandstand” to The Sound of Philadelphia to Boyz II Men and Jill Scott, Philadelphia stands with the best across genre and time.
As holiday tunes begin to fill the air, it’s easy to represent with local love.
We rounded up a selection of classics that add Philly magic to your seasonal listening. Some are by the greatest artists of all time, others from acts you might not yet know.
Scroll down to check out the YouTube videos, or add our Spotify playlist.
‘Let It Snow’ (1993)
Combining R&B powerhouses Boyz II Men with Brian McKnight was the perfect recipe for this Wanya Morris remix of the 1940s classic. With a video that showcases both friendship and romantic love, the song peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.
‘I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm’ (1937)
The one and only Billie “Lady Day” Holiday was born in Philadelphia, and her mellifluous voice is captured elegantly on this classic tune, written in 1937 by Irving Berlin and subsequently adopted as a standard in the American holiday songbook.
‘Christmas Blues’ (2011)
Born and bred in Philly, G. Love accurately captures what it means to feel low around the holidays on this original track. With soulful harmonica playing, he reminds us that some people during the holiday season are just trying to make it through. Bonus: His new album “Coming Back Home For Christmas!” is being released today.
‘Jingle Bell Rock’ (1983)
Composed by Joseph Carleton Beal and originally sung in 1957 by Bobby Helms, Hall and Oates’ cover remains one of the most popular renditions of this Christmas standard. The duo first released it as a standalone single with two versions — one with each singer taking the lead.
‘Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas’ (1973)
Written and produced by legendary duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and released on Philadelphia International Records, this is a definitive Philly Soul classic. The O’Jays remind us that the holiday season is about spending time with those we love.
‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ (2020)
Leslie Odom Jr., who grew up in East Oak Lane, started his career singing in a Germantown church choir. His crooning has become a holiday classic: Two of his four professional albums have been dedicated to Christmas songs, with the most recent released just last year.
‘Wouldn’t It Be Beautiful’ (1990)
On another gem by Gamble and Huff, Patti LaBelle’s incredible prowess brings all the holiday vibes you can handle. Released by the Philadelphia sonstress in 1990, the slow jam encourages us to use the season to cultivate a more loving and just world.
‘Joyful, Joyful’ (2019)
Strawberry Mansion’s Jazmine Sullivan puts her gospel chops on full display with this cameo on one of many Christmas albums from a capella group Pentatonix. Sullivan takes the lead in this soulful track from the “Sister Act 2,” with the quintet harmonizing to back her up.
‘Blue Christmas’ (1962)
Written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson in 1948, and famously sung by Elvis, this holiday standard made it onto Frankie Avalon’s Christmas album, on which the Philly-born teen heartthrob presented his own notable version.
‘Deck the Halls’ (2008)
Musiq Soulchild released a version of this carol on his album “A Philly Soul Christmas.” After his tight production, the 19th century Scottish lyrics over a Welsh melody that dates back to the 1500s may never be the same.
Note: The O’Jays version of “Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas” isn’t on Spotify, so we’ve replaced it with Aretha Franklin (no one can be mad about that)