Top 5 of All Time: Black Christmas Songs

This writer bets you won't agree with his picks. Do you?

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Whitney Houston (Kevin Mazur/WireImage); Donny Hathaway (Gilles Petard/Redferns);
Kanye West (Randy Brooke/WireImage)

Chances are people will bah-humbug the songs not listed. Understood. I know there are more than five great holiday songs, but here's what else I know: These songs are great. One of them is undeniable, three of them are unquestionable and one of them will probably make some scoff because they think it's absurd that a rap song might belong on a list of great holiday music. On that point, we will agree to disagree.

5. "Christmas in Harlem" by Kanye West, featuring Cam'Ron, Jim Jones, Vado, CyHi Da Prynce, Pusha-T, Musiq Soulchild and Teyana Taylor

Most Christmas rap songs sound satirical. Not "Christmas in Harlem." A slew of MCs sandwich their best 16 bars about the holiday season in between a breezy, festive hook sung by Teyana Taylor and Musiq Soulchild. The result is a song that feels timeless, though it's only a year old. The song's producer, Hit-Boy (he of "Ni--as in Paris" fame), told Vibe: "I never really heard [the beat] as a Christmas song, but when Kanye heard it, he said it sounded like some classic Christmas music." Kanye was right.

4. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by the Jackson 5

"You just gotta believe me!" So says little Michael Jackson to his older brothers at the end of this holiday gem. The way he sings it, why would we not? Little MJ is so certain that Santa Claus exists, he not only thinks his mom is kissing the man himself but implies that he won't tell his dad what he saw. It would be mildly disturbing if it weren't so adorable, catchy and true to how most kids feel at a young age about Santa.

3. "Let It Snow" by Boyz II Men, featuring Brian McKnight

If ever there was a holiday song appropriate to play while conceiving, it would be "Let It Snow" from Boyz II Men's 1993 holiday album, Christmas Interpretations. As soon as the group and special guest McKnight harmonize their vocals on the first utterance of "snow," one thing is clear: "Let It Snow" is more than a Christmas song; it's a bedroom song, just as appropriate for a night of romance in the middle of June as it is in December.

2. "Joy" by Whitney Houston