25 Christmas Albums Every Household Needs To Own
When 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
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
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
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
But just because big band man takes an old time approach to Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride and many more gems doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of snowy zest for younger audiences to love.
Bing Crosby – White Christmas
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
This 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
There 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
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
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
Part classic sensibilities, part southern-inspired and even occasionally swing-centered, this unsung hero is a master interpreter of Angels We Have Heard On High, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and several others.
Jaci Velasquez – Christmas
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
With 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 Ronettes, The Crystals and more of Spector’s talented protégés.
Various Artists – A Very Special Christmas
Combine Whitney Houston’s Do You Hear What I Hear?, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Merry Christmas Baby, plus more from U2, Madonna, Sting 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).