My Favorite Christmas Albums

My favorite Christmas albums. . . I originally debated how many albums to include in this list. I love Christmas music and have, over the years, amassed a large number of favorite Christmas albums. However, I ended up deciding on thirty entries, which seems like a pretty good number to me, if a large one. I’ll divide those into approximate categories to organize things. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that you’ve never heard and would like to check out, something new with which to fall in love!

So, without further ado, here are my thirty personal favorite Christmas albums of all time.

☆☆☆☆

CELTIC CHRISTMAS ALBUMS

edens_bridge_celtic_Christmas

Eden’s Bridge’s Celtic Christmas (Reissued as Irish Christmas)

Released in 1997

I remember listening to this album from bed as my parents played it in the living room Christmas morning. I especially remember the guitar solo partway through the album, splitting through the calming yet passionate Celtic sounds. My best thing to say: I fell in love with Celtic Christmas‘s beauty.

enya_and_winter_came

Enya’s And Winter Came

Released in 2008

Enya has a haunting, transporting voice. Give this album a listen and be carried swiftly into the hills of Ireland on a foggy, crisp, December morning. Hear the celebratory holiday sounds of this ancient land float and flow around you. You will not be disappointed. Enya brings her best here.

COUNTRY CHRISTMAS ALBUMS

garth_brooks_beyond_the_season

Garth Brooks’s Beyond the Season

Released in 1992

Nestled right between Ropin’ the Wind and The Chase, Beyond the Season came at both the height of this hit country singer’s popularity and the height of his ability. Say what you will about Garth, his charm and charisma is captivating. So is this record. For the most part, anyway.

johnny_cash_the_spirit_of_Christmas

Johnny Cash’s The Christmas Spirit

Released in 1963

Cash’s best stab at a Christmas record that truly represents his unique identity, The Christmas Spirit is informed effectively by the Man in Black’s Christianity – despite his rather hard living at this time – and by his childhood experiences of tough times on a New Deal colony farm during the Depression.

willie_nelson_pretty_paper

Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper

Released in 1979

Pretty Paper probably hasn’t aged as well as some of the albums on this list, but it’s hard to deny the draw and ability of Nelson’s voice and guitar, accompanied by minimal instrumentation, to sit you down easy for a chill Christmas afternoon. Pretty Paper‘s a good one, and warming.

brad_paisley_Christmas

Brad Paisley’s Christmas

Released in 2006

Brad Paisley has always maintained aspects of both immense respect for the country artists before him and an eye out toward the future. It hasn’t always worked for him. Sometimes, his songs are cringeworthy. Yet it works for him here. Christmas is a fun modern country album, though not perfect.

a_skaggs_family_Christmas

Ricky Skaggs and the Skaggs Family’s A Skaggs Family Christmas (Vol. 1)

Released in 2005

Bluegrass, old-time country, family, friends, Christ, celebration, and respect for Appalachian, American, and Judeo-Christian tradition. That’s what Christmas means to the Skaggs and the Whites, and that shows clearly and pleasantly on this album. The second volume is pretty decent, but I love volume one much more. Honestly, try it!

INSTRUMENTAL CHRISTMAS ALBUMS

david_grisman_acoustic_Christmas

David Grisman’s Acoustic Christmas

Released in 1983

I received this album as a Christmas present one year. I was around twelve, I think, and a mandolin player in my extended family’s bluegrass gospel band. This was one of my first steps toward wanting more out of my music, though I didn’t necessarily love the album at first.

gary_hoey_the_best_of_hohohoey

Gary Hoey’s The Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey!

Released in 2001

From 1995 to 1999, hard rock and heavy metal guitarist extraordinaire Gary Hoey put out three albums of fresh, exciting, electric guitar instrumental renditions of various Christmas classics. These are, mostly, the best tracks of those albums, and a great listen for fans of rock and masterfully played rock guitar.

vgt_a_charlie_brown_Christmas

Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas

Released in 1965

A Charlie Brown Christmas, the jazz Christmas album, is just as essential as the TV special classic from which it comes. There is no better choice for the background music of a wonderful Christmas party, and, without a doubt, you’ll find yourself dancing a fair bit. Don’t deny it, now!

POP CHRISTMAS ALBUMS

the_beach_boys_Christmas_album

The Beach Boys’ The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

Released in 1964

An all-time best Christmas album and one of Brian Wilson’s and The Beach Boys’ first steps toward helping elevate pop music from down in the throwaway tunes of a generation up to the timeless, classic compositions you find here and on Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations.” It’s a delight, too.

carpenters_Christmas_portrait

The Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait

Released in 1978

For many music fans, it isn’t Christmas without the Carpenters. Christmas Portrait is truly Christmas music for everyone. Your grandmother who only likes the old, old, old stuff; your dad still stuck in the ’70s or ’80s; and even those dang “millennials,” many of whom grew up hearing Christmas Portrait.

jackson_5_Christmas_album

The Jackson 5’s Jackson 5 Christmas Album

Released in 1970

Did Motown ever produce a more memorable Christmas record than the Jackson 5 Christmas Album? I don’t think so. And it’s always interesting to hear Michael Jackson in his younger days. Man, is he belting out those lyrics! The rest of the music is good as well. Yeah, yeah, man!

relient_k_lisblir

Relient K’s Let It Snow, Baby, Let It Reindeer

Released in 2007

Will I be run out of town by pop punk fans for including something by Relient K instead of Weezer’s Christmas EP? Well, who cares! This is my list, and I’ll do what I want! Ha! Whatever you say about Relient K, I think this is a fun Christmas listen.

a_very_she_&_him_Christmas

She & Him’s A Very She & Him Christmas

Released in 2011

Zooey Deschanel’s airy, raspy, jazzy, appealing vocals and M. Ward’s folksy, bluesy, echoing instrumentation work together to create a winsome set of minimalistically yet cheerfully performed Christmas songs here that you’d have to be the Grinch to dislike! OK, I’m just kidding, but I do love She & Him’s sound.

sia_everyday_is_Christmas

Sia’s Everyday Is Christmas

Released in 2017

Why this? So be it. I enjoyed Sia’s 2017 Christmas album, and I commend her efforts at essentially making a Christmas album her full-blown next project after 2016’s This Is Acting. Good on her, I say. Greg Kurstin is involved, which can be great or meh. It’s really good here.

Read more. . .

phil_spector_a_Christmas_gift

Phil Spector’s/Various Artist’s A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

Released in 1963

If it weren’t for the album that I have as my favorite (coming soon), this would probably be it. Yes, Spector’s reputation has been severely tarnished. He’s a terrible human being. But he produced some fantastic pop records, and this is one of his best. And, holy cow, the talent!

lindsey_stirling_warmer_in_the_winter

Lindsey Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter

Released in 2017

Another release from this year! What can I say? Stirling’s violin performances and overall compositions catch me up in a whirlwind of beautiful yet modern melody, and Christmas suits Stirling rather well. Two or three tracks aren’t necessarily super awesome, but the album is, without a doubt! Check it out!

Read more. . .

VOCAL POP CHRISTMAS ALBUMS

michael_buble_Christmas

Michael Bublé’s Christmas

Released in 2011

Bublé’s jazzy vocal pop hearkens back to the days of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and though there’s a good chance you’re annoyed by him at this point in time (or by your mom loving him so much), he still performs these songs effortlessly, and he knows a good set.

bing_crosby_white_Christmas

Bing Crosby’s White Christmas (Originally released as Merry Christmas)

Released in 1945

The one, the only, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. If America could only have one Christmas album, this would be the one. You sure wouldn’t hear me complain! Crosby almost is Christmas, just as much as It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol! You’ve surely already heard this. It’s great!

vince_gill_breath_of_Heaven

Vince Gill’s Breath of Heaven

Released in 1998

None of Vince Gill’s Christmas projects are half as good as this. Instead of going the more country route, Vince Gill places his high yet grounded voice in front of a full orchestra, and it works marvelously. Especially “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Breath of Heaven.”

josh_groban_noel

Josh Groban’s Noël

Released in 2007

Many probably think of Josh Groban as basically the Michael Bolton of today, but that’s simply not the case, just based on Groban’s vocal ability alone. Pair Noël in a playlist with “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Groban’s debut album, and there you’ll have a Christmas playlist to beat!

nat_king_cole_the_magic_of_Christmas

Nat King Cole’s The Magic of Christmas (Reissued as The Christmas Song)

Released in 1960

Like many of these albums, is it Christmas without Nat King Cole? And The Magic of Christmas is, in my opinion, the best release to play, whether you’re spinning the original or the reissued version. Everyone knows Cole’s voice and interpretations of these songs, whether they think so or not.

sj&tdp_iahsp

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ It’s a Holiday Soul Party

Released in 2015

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings always brought the soul, rhythm, and funk in a way that you remember the old soul acts sounding, but in a way that even they sometimes struggled to deliver on. This album is relevant, aware, joyous, fun Christmas music with heart and spirit. And soul.

a_jolly_Christmas_from_frank_sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra

Released in 1957

Frank Sinatra is one of the most influential artists of all time, and, with this album, he brought his jazz and swing vocal and interpretation style to Christmas songs. Though when it competes directly with Crosby’s White Christmas, it has to end up bowing out, it’s a fantastic Christmas record.

ROCK CHRISTMAS ALBUMS

casting_crowns_peace_on_earth

Casting Crowns’ Peace on Earth

Released in 2008

Casting Crowns, to me, is not only just a solid CCM band, but also they work rather well as a straightforward, stripped-down, rock band influenced and informed by country and gospel. Moreover, their earnestness and honesty aids them. They bring the best of all their talents to this Christmas album.

cheap_trick_Christmas_Christmas

Cheap Trick’s Christmas Christmas

Released in 2017

What does this album sound like? Probably exactly what you think it does. But it’s not lazy or too hurried feeling, and it probably is the best it could be. It even features a few good original songs from the band. I enjoy it, and I think you might, too.

Read more. . .

elvis_Christmas_album

Elvis Presley’s Elvis’ Christmas Album

Released in 1957

Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll himself, has the best-selling Christmas album of all time in the United States, and that’s what this album is. Deserving, too, containing one of my favorite renditions of “Here Comes Santa Clause,” the best version of “Blue Christmas,” and four wonderful gospel tunes.

a_very_special_Christmas

Jimmy Iovine’s/Various Artist’s A Very Special Christmas

Released in 1987

The first in a series of Christmas compilation albums produced, here by Jimmy Iovine for A&M, to raise money for the Special Olympics. I still think this is the one to go to, if not the best. So many awesome ’80s artists here, many at the heights of their careers.

AND . . . MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS ALBUM

tso_Christmas_eve

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve and Other Stories

Released in 1996

This album came along for me during a time when I was learning to broaden my musical horizons. I loved it from the instant I heard it, and I love it more every Christmas season. The combination of quite, heartfelt, almost singer-songwriter style songs; orchestras and choirs; and grandiose tracks with well-constructed rock and metal compositions and instrumentals makes for a marvelous combination, one that works, one that is uniquely Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And the concept’s story is beautiful, culminating in two moments that never fail to bring me nearly to tears. Try the other two Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas albums, too.

☆☆☆☆

There you go!

Here’s my top 10:

10. Jackson 5’s Jackson 5 Christmas Album

9. Vince Gill’s Breath of Heaven

8. Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas

7. The Beach Boys’ The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

6. Elvis Presley’s Elvis’ Christmas Album

5. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas

4. Casting Crowns’ Peace on Earth

3. Eden’s Bridge’s Celtic Christmas

2. Phil Spector’s/Various Artist’s A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve and Other Stories

What are your favorite Christmas albums?

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year! And God bless us, every one.

6 thoughts on “My Favorite Christmas Albums

  1. Your post is so much more than a list! I have several of these albums that I love and neglected to talk about in my post about Christmas music – namely, #’s 5, 8, and 9 in the above numbered list. I will have to look for the Zooey Deschanel music. I do like her voice. There are also a couple on the list I have but do not care for at all….popular with others but not me, after I listened several times, I put them at the bottom of my stack.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s