We can all agree that one of the best things about the holiday season is listening to all the Christmas music. While so many of the classics we have come to love over the years have been recorded a million times by artists new and old, there is a long list of festive albums that have made their mark on our traditions year in and year out. With each track being so heartwarming and indulgent for those chilly evenings, yuletide-inspired albums have the power to really brighten up the holidays and make those wintry days all the more enjoyable.
From traditional classics to contemporary originals, our staff shares their favorite holiday albums that will be the perfect accent to that party this season or just accompany you on those quiet nights before Christmas.
Brooke White, “White Christmas”
Meg Quinn: I tend to listen to compilation Christmas albums more than whole albums made by one artist, I should probably check out more of the latter. But White Christmas by Brooke White is my exception, it’s such a lovely album. She covers mostly traditional Christmas songs but they sound very modern with her voice and production. This album has been my most played album this time of year every year since it came out in 2012, and she does my favorite version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” ever.
Mariah Carey, “Merry Christmas”
Jessica Fritz: Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album is an absolute holiday favorite in my house! Her incredible vocals and gift for writing makes hers one the best Christmas albums ever. Whether it’s in the house, in the car, or in the office, I always have this album playing in December. The album also includes “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which is hands down my favorite Christmas song ever. The fact that it has become a holiday staple on radio stations around the world is a clear indication Mariah has the magic touch for a great holiday tune.
Elvis Presley, “Elvis’ Christmas Album”
Tania Hussain: This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas records for good reason — it’s by the King of Rock and Roll. Released in 1957, it was Presley’s fourth studio album and his first Christmas album. It has some of the best tracks too, including his version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” which is so buttery in its sounding; “Santa Claus is Back in Town,” which has this really awesome, rock and roll, jazzy vibe; and of course, “Blue Christmas,” a track that’s my festive jam and tune I listen to every December. I know it’s super sad in its message, but I think it’s also really romantic and a testament to a relationship that still holds resonance and belief.
The Killers, “Don’t Waste Your Wishes”
Nicole Drum: Every year I say this, but I don’t like Christmas music which means I have never had a favorite Christmas album. Until now. The only Christmas songs I like are always the songs The Killers put out each year. They are irreverent, often funny, and sometimes just strikingly raw which is probably why I love the songs so much. Now I have a whole album of them, including the deeply moving take “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that I can’t make it through without ugly crying.
Kelly Clarkson, “Wrapped in Red”
Elizabeth The: With a voice as powerful, textured, and versatile as hers, the original American Idol was destined to produce this gift of a record, which spans across a variety of genres from jazz, blues, and soul to pop, classical, and Broadway. This Christmas collection plays like a kaleidoscope of holiday emotions as portrayed through a spectrum of colors, including romantic red (“Wrapped In Red”), winter blues (“Blue Christmas”), and wondrous white (“White Christmas”). Add in the charmingly catchy original song “Underneath the Tree” and a jaw-dropping trio performance of “Silent Night” with country superstars Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood and you have the makings of a true American Christmas classic.
Celine Dion, “These Are Special Times”
Alex Keobke: When I was growing up in my house there was never any shortage of Celine Dion music on hand, and you better believe that didn’t change during the Holiday season. Which is why there is no way that These are Special Times, the Dion holiday album that was released in 1998 absolutely has to be my all-time favorite – with my favorite track being “The Prayer” which she duets with Andrea Bocelli! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ll be hating on some of the other classic singers like Mariah Carey getting her groove on, but the nostalgia factor needs to bump Dion to the top of my list. Now the real question is how do I convince my girlfriend that it’s appropriate to listen to in January?
Andrew Rogers: Like every good Canadian, I grew up listening to Celine. I would have been 10 when it came out and I still remember that year. It reminds me of the Christmas’ of my childhood and features Celine’s take on a few classics and few originals that feel like instant classics. The whole album just embodies those warm, joyful nights by the fire with my family.
Neil Diamond, “The Christmas Album”
Katherine Hernandez: While I still unironically play the Chipmunk’s Christmas albums every holiday season, my absolute favorite Christmas album is Neil Diamond’s The Christmas Album. His follow-up The Christmas Album: Volume 2 is also good, but his first installment is something I listen to every year when I’m wrapping Christmas presents. Neil superbly covers many traditional songs, and the original Christmas song “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” is one of the album’s best. I grew up listening to Neil Diamond because my mom is a fan, but even into adulthood this album remained my go-to Christmas favorite.
What are your favorite holiday albums? Share with us in the comments below!