25 Christmas Albums Every Household Needs To Own

amy_grant._home_for_christmasjpg_0When it comes to Christmas music, the tried and true carols never go out of style, but often times the contemporary side of the season is just as festive. Chances are you’ve been hearing Yuletide themes throughout the halls of the shopping mall, find them popping up in iPod rotation or started tree trimming alongside your favorites, though considering the wealth of Christmas music out there, there’s always room for suggestions, whether that be a classic collection worth rediscovering or a less traditional title just as worthy of an introduction.

With that spirit in mind, UPtv.com unveils 25 of our favorite Christmas albums of all time (in alphabetical order by artist since they’re all so stellar), which won’t just serve as suitable soundtracks to the season, but also remind listeners of its real reason.

 

Avalon – Joy

joy-_a_christmas_collection-150x150The vocal harmonies of contemporary pop troupe Avalon are generally unmistakable, but the male/female foursome sounds especially strong crooning the classics on this collection from 2000.

Even so, the multiple Dove Award winners also shine on the new at the time Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day, which joyfully reminds listeners to keep the seasonal spirit alive all year long.

Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

mariah-150x150As the leading R&B-infused pop singer of her generation, pretty much everything Mariah Carey touches turns to gold, though this 1994 installment may very well be her career crest.

Besides sounding spectacular on oldies but goodies like Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and O Holy Night, there’s also the multi-platinum peppiness of her very own modern anthem All I Want For Christmas Is You.

 

Steven Curtis Chapman – The Music of Christmas

scc-150x150Country-flavored singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman may have three seasonal selections under his belt, but this first installment from 1995 continues to be a fan favorite.

In addition to his personal reflections on the holiday, the troubadour takes many musical adventures as well, including a charming medley of Silent Night/Away In A Manger/O Holy Night.

Harry Connick Jr. – When My Heart Finds Christmas

harry_connick_jr-150x150Though released in the not too distant past of 1993, Harry Connick Jr.’s first holiday rendering could very well have been set in the standards era of Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.

But just because big band man takes an old time approach to Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It SnowSleigh Ride and many more gems doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of snowy zest for younger audiences to love.

Bing Crosby – White Christmas

bing_crosby-150x150When hearkening back to the golden days of vocal greats, few compare to Bing Crosby, as evidenced by the fact that this 1955 recording hasn’t lost any of its luster several decades down the line.

The Irving Berlin-penned title track may be the cornerstone cut, but there’s still plenty more to devour on this gorgeous, dinner party-ready disc.

 

John Denver and The Muppets – A Christmas Together

denver_muppets-150x150This 1979 television special turned soundtrack album is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime novelty collaboration, but how can anyone resist one of the world’s most famous folk singers dueting with his furriest friends?

The light-hearted, multi-character treatment of The Twelve Days of Christmas is worth the purchase price alone, but there are also some more tender-hearted moments, like The Peace Carol and A Baby Just Like You.

Bryan Duncan – Christmas is Jesus

bryan_duncan-150x150Blue-eyed soul singer Bryan Duncan may have kept a lower profile as of late compared to his major label days, but when this disc dropped in 1995, there were few who could rival his remarkable range.

Nearly two decades later, the beautifully produced collection still holds its ground, anchored by the chilling ballad The First Noel and a rich, R&B-tipped rendition of Please Come Home For Christmas.

Amy Grant – A Christmas Album

amy_grant-150x150The first Christmas undertaking by this 30 million plus album seller is sometimes considered her best, especially when scanning a track listing that includes Tennessee Christmas and Emmanuel.

Indeed, and familiar co-writing friends like Michael W. Smith serve up a career defining collection that’s long surpassed its 1983 shelf life.

 

Amy Grant – Home For Christmas

amy_grant._home_for_christmasjpg-150x150

Come 1992, the singer/songwriter was riding high atop the pop charts, but returned to her spiritual roots for this equally treasured sequel of sorts.

 

Grown-Up Christmas List became a huge hit, while Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song) continues to take our breath away.

 

Josh Groban – Noel

josh_groban-150x150In 2007, Josh Groban’s Yuletide compilation was so popular it became the year’s best selling album across all genres.

It’s easy to see why when the vocal powerhouse knocks Ave Maria and Silent Night out of the park, all while accompanied by symphonic sounds straight out of heaven.

 

Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas

charlie_brown-150x150Released to coincide with the television special of the same name in 1965, this Vince Guaraldi Trio treat is nothing short of a multi-generational staple.

The entire album is absolutely ageless, though it’s a toss up between the instrumental O Tannenbaum and the vocal version of Christmas Time Is Here as to what’s the top tune.

 

Faith Hill – Joy To the World

faith_hill-150x150From the relatively recent past, country turned pop crossover queen Faith Hill served up a 2008 smash that demonstrated her tremendous vocal prowess time and time again.

Covers of What Child Is This? and Little Drummer Boy are amongst the most elegant selections, but the true tear jerker is the original A Baby Changes Everything.

 

Jars of Clay – Christmas Songs

jars_of_clay-150x150Even if Jars of Clay’s commercial awareness has lessened with age, the alternative pop/rock group’s musical outpouring has only strengthened with experience.

These earthy and intimate sentiments from 2007 are a perfect case in point, spanning the witty Wonderful Christmastime cover to the traditional Irish poem Love Came Down At Christmas.

 

Jewel – Joy: A Holiday Collection

jewel-150x150Sandwiched right between her smash singer/songwriter disc Spirit and her pop exploration This WayJewel’s jubilant 1999 Christmas offering falls somewhere between both musical stylings.

Many of the cuts are carols adorned with strings and choirs, though there’s also an impressive glimpse at her own lyrical chops on Face Of Love.

 

Michael McDonald – In the Spirit

michael_mcdonald-150x150The one time Doobie Brother turned solo star took significant risks on this 2001 project, writing no less than eight tunes and merely covering three.

Fans from both career periods are sure to be satisfied with the blend between rock, soul and the singer/songwriter’s increasingly noticeable spiritual side.

 

Ginny Owens – Bring Us Peace

ginny_owens-150x150Piano gal Ginny Owens popped back up in 2006 with a self-released CD that was ultimately quite uplifting, albeit highly underrated.

Her sweet acapella vocal stylings help paint classics like In the Bleak Midwinter and Ave Maria in a contemplative light, while self-created cuts like Nothin for Christmas and This Is Christmas are worth seeking out.

 

Elvis Presley – It’s Christmas Time

elvis_presley-150x150What’s not to love about “the King of Rock and Roll” swinging and swiveling his way through Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) and Santa Claus Is Back In Town?

In addition to those celebratory standards, the late great legend also leaves behind some softer sounds of December, including Blue Christmas and Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem from sessions spanning 1957 to 1970.

Relient K – Let It Snow Baby … Let it Reindeer

relientk-150x150There aren’t that many pop/punk holiday options on the market, and while Relient K practically has a monopoly, chances are very few like-minded acts could come close to the group’s cheeky compilation.

While it’s quite clever how the guys translate 12 Days Of Christmas or Sleigh Ride to their own style (circa 2007), front man Matt Thiessen’s very own In Like A Lion (Always Winter) is also cause for unconventional celebration.

Michael W. Smith – Christmas

mws_christmas-150x150Contemporary pop mainstay Michael W. Smith may have his fair share of Christmas projects under his belt, but 1989’s inaugural installment set the bar quite high.

Not only does it consist mostly of originals and obscure delights, but it’s arranged with the utmost of symphonic sophistication.

 

Michael W. Smith – Christmastime

mws_christmastime-150x150By 1998, the singer/songwriter was still feeling the season’s spirit, but changing musical directions for the sophisticated pop-focused Christmastime.

The title track benefits from a bountiful boys choir, Sandi Patty guests on The Christmas Waltz, while guitar great Phil Keaggy turns in an instrumental duet with the piano man on O Christmas Tree.

 

Russ Taff – A Christmas Song

russ-taff-a-christmas-song-150x150With extensive time logged in The Imperials and the Gaither Vocal BandRuss Taff’s vocal talents are truly immeasurable, particularly on this 1992 solo centerpiece.

Part classic sensibilities, part southern-inspired and even occasionally swing-centered, this unsung hero is a master interpreter of Angels We Have Heard On HighIt Came Upon The Midnight Clear and several others.

 

Jaci Velasquez – Christmas

jaci-150x150Regularly blurring the lines between pop, gospel and Latin stylings, Jaci Valesquez is an artist for the ages, even if her recording pace has slowed with marriage and motherhood.

Just flashback to 2001 for endless evidence via the dynamite ballad The Angel Song, two other newbies, plus tons of tradition.

 

Various Artists – A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records

achristmasgift-150x150With Phil Spector as producer, this all-star experience from 1963 unequivocally defined its era, while later serving as the blueprint for how a practically perfect album is made for the loads who followed in its footsteps.

Darlene Love’s soulful reading of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) has yet to be surpassed, plus there’s plenty more from The RonettesThe Crystals and more of Spector’s talented protégés.

Various Artists – A Very Special Christmas

a-very-special-christmas-150x150The 1980s equivalent of the aforementioned masterpiece is easily this 1987 assortment benefiting Special Olympics.

Combine Whitney Houston’s Do You Hear What I Hear?Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Merry Christmas Baby, plus more from U2MadonnaSting and Bon Jovi, and there’s almost enough star power to light up Bethlehem’s most history-changing night.

About the Writer

Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of “Access Matthews” (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own “Gospel Dream” (where he served as season one judge).