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“Feliz Navidad” Is the Most Underrated Christmas Song of All Time. I Said What I Said.

I will die on this hill.

In every holiday season, there is a debate that springs eternal: what is the best Christmas song? For a long time, that title has been held by Mariah Carey’s delightful “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But even though I will always stan the Queen of Christmas’s iconic number, it’s time to pay tribute to what is lowkey the most banging Christmas tribute of all time. I am talking, of course, about José Feliciano’s 1970 classic “Feliz Navidad.”

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the song, Feliciano sat down with Amazon Music to discuss the legacy of the bilingual hit. Feliciano, who was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, emigrated to New York in 1950 at five years old. Blind since birth, Feliciano quickly discovered a passion and a talent for music. In 1970, he released an album of Christmas standards which included his new song, “Feliz Navidad.” The song has remained a beloved holiday staple ever since.

In the interview, Feliciano said, “I thought, I’m going to write a song that radio stations can’t make excuses about. They can’t say, ‘Oh it’s too Spanish’ or ‘oh it’s too English.’ I made it so that they had to play it.”

I love “Feliz Navidad” because not only is it an irrepressibly catchy melody, but it’s the easiest song to sing. That’s because Feliciano never bothered with verses, making the song all chorus all the time. I mean, most folks only remember the chorus of a song anyway, right? Go ahead, sing me the second verse of “Jingle Bells,” I’ll wait.

Having a song that is entirely chorus is like eating a meal that’s entirely dessert—to which I say, bring on the figgy pudding and candy canes! I will chase that sugar high headfirst into a snowbank and think nothing of it. Maybe that’s because I live in Southern California and have only seen snow banks in movies. But I digress. I mean, what other songs have only 8 lines, 6 of which are just repeating the same line?! Instantly iconic:

“Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Próspero año y felicidad

I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart”

I also love the simplicity of the song’s message. It’s just wishing the listener a sincere and heartfelt Merry Christmas, a prosperous and happy year. So many Christmas songs are about romance or Jesus or trying to seduce Santa Claus into giving you more presents. What about a song for secular singles and the folks who appreciate them? We love to see it, and more importantly hear it.

So here’s to you, José Feliciano. Thank you for the catchiest, most enjoyable Christmas song ever. And to our readers, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Feliz Navidad. From the bottom of our hearts.

(featured image: screencap/Amazon Music)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.