There are few things I enjoy more than a good Christmas album during the holidays. I’m one of those people that feels it is completely appropriate to break them out at the beginning of November, and I’m always reluctant to remove my Christmas playlist from my iPod come January.
When it comes to holiday music, I don’t discriminate: I’m happy just to listen to the Christmas radio station. But of course I do have my favorites, which I’m so excited to share with you today.
So on this December 8th, here are my 8 favorite Christmas albums…which I hope you’ll like just as much as I do. I’ve ordered them according to how long I’ve been listening to them (starting just as recently as last month) and linked each to the Amazon mp3 album download.
- Glee: The Christmas Album I’m a total Gleek, so when I got wind of this album in November, I immediately pre-ordered it. The songs are super-fun, especially since all of these familiar tunes have been given the unique Glee treatment. My favorite is “Deck the Rooftop” — a mash-up of “Deck the Halls” and “Up on a Housetop”.
- Wilson Phillips: Christmas in Harmony If you grew up listening to this female trio back in the early 90s like I did, you should immediately download this album. Their sound is still gorgeous 20 years later, especially on Christmas songs like “Little Drummer Boy”.
- Martina McBride: White Christmas Even if you aren’t a fan of country music, it’s hard not to be enamored with Martina’s voice. Out of the 16 traditional tunes on this albums, I could listen to her versions of “White Christmas” and “O Holy Night” all day long.
- James Taylor: At Christmas There’s not a James Taylor song I don’t love. But this is by far my favorite album of his, and it still would be even if his poignant rendition of “In the Bleak Midwinter” was the only song on it.
- Kristen Chenoweth: A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas Kristen’s voice definitely ranks up their amongst my favorite ever — it’s incredibly versatile. A couple of the songs are originals, while others (like “Sing”) are familiar and happy surprises.
- Bette Midler: Cool Yule For me, this is the quintessential “fun” Christmas album. I started to list a few of my favorite tracks just now, but then I realized I would be listing nearly all of them. So just take my word for it and check this one out, starting with the title song.
- Christmas With the Rat Pack I grew up listening to the Rat Pack, thanks to my dad. Does it get any better than Frank, Dean and Sammy singing holiday songs like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Marshmallow World” in their usual charming ways? The best part about this album is that there are 21 tracks (and not a bad one in the bunch).
- The Carpenters: Christmas Portrait It’s not Christmas for me until I’ve heard Karen Carpenter sing “The Christmas Waltz” and “Merry Christmas, Darling”. This has been a staple in my CD player (and iPod now, of course) since I was a child, and is still the most-played Christmas album I own.
There are many more Christmas albums in my rotation, but if I was stranded on the North Pole (or maybe just at the airport) and could only take 8 with me, these would be it. I hope I’ve introduced you to some potential new favorites! Oh, and let’s keep this list going…which Christmas albums do YOU dig?
I love the James Taylor album. But my favorite Christmas album BY FAR is John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. It has old classics like the 12 Days of Christmas and Deck the Halls, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Orchestra covering Little St. Nick, really moving versions of Silent Night and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and of course, it has the amazing John Denver.
Oooh, I’m not familiar with that one! Thanks for adding it to the list — I can’t wait to check it out :)
The Denver album is great!
So you did 8 Xmas albums for the 8 nights of Chanukkah right? ;)
LOL, I didn’t even think about that! However, I am half-Jewish and grew up celebrating both holidays…it’s a shame I don’t know very many Chanukkah songs to show for it :(
I have so many favorites . . .
The “Winter’s Solstice” series from Windham Hill–at least six volumes from the ’80s–acoustic instrumentals and some vocals, both traditional and New Age
Liona Boyd’s “A Guitar for Christmas”
Mahalia Jackson’s “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”–classics from the best gospel singer ever
“The John Rutter Christmas Album”–English choral music from the Cambridge Singers
Jim Brickman’s “The Gift”
George Winston’s “Winter”
The holidays wouldn’t be complete without these in the player!
Believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve heard any of these with the exception of Jim Brickman. Will definitely be taking a listen…thanks!!
I also love the John Denver & Muppets album. Didn’t know James Taylor had a Christmas album – I will definitely be checking that out!
I grew up listening to my parents’ LP of The Ray Conniff Singers. They’re a little hokey and Lawrence Welk-y, but it’s not Christmas without listening to their version of “Count Your Blessings.”
My more modern favorite is from a group from Cincinnati called Over The Rhine. Their album The Darkest Night of the Year. Lovely, haunting versions of some standards and a few original arrangements, I believe, and a mix of vocal & instrumental tracks. It’s not right for a lively party, but perfect for sitting in front of the tree with a cup of hot cocoa.
Sorry, I mixed up the first link – it was supposed to be to Ray Conniff’s We Wish You A Merry Christmas album. Much more goofy 60s cover photo!
Hey Emily! Thanks for the additions. I know the Ray Conniff Singers from listening to Christmas radio — I agree, hokey but totally fun :) And I don’t know the Rhine but I’m going to check out the album you mentioned!