The 12 Best Christmas Albums of All Time

By Kent Dunn
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If you went shopping or turned on the radio around the end of October, you'd have found that the Christmas festivities start earlier every year. Although that may bother some people, it's hard to resist the nostalgic feelings of Christmas when you hear certain songs that you grew up with. So you may as well join in the festivities by putting up the tree, hanging up your stockings, drinking hot cocoa and putting on your holiday snuggie to the soothing sounds of the best Christmas albums.

12. Christmas with the Chipmunks – Alvin and the Chipmunks
Before you cringe at the thought of high-pitch voices singing the holiday classics, just take a moment to think about how you feel when you hear the Chipmunks' iconic song "Christmas Don't Be Late." Your inner child can't help but smile and remember the holidays when you were young and life was easier. At 20 tracks, this may feel like a bit much for one sitting, so it's best to mix it up with other Christmas albums. With the recent success of the Alvin and the Chipmunks trilogy (shudder), this may well be one Christmas album that your kids will enjoy most.
Unforgettable Song: "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)"

11. Home for Christmas – Amy Grant
Amy Grant has released some great Christmas recordings. This one ranks highest in our opinion because of standout original tracks that fit well with favorite holiday melodies such as "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "Winter Wonderland" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas." She gives each song emotional weight without overwhelming what made the songs great in the first place. Each song deserves rotation in your current Christmas playlist.
Unforgettable Song: "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)"

10. A Fresh Aire Christmas – Mannheim Steamroller
In the late 1980s, Mannheim Steamroller reinvented themselves with Christmas music, and their band name has since become synonymous with the festivities around the season. It's true that synthesizers can feel very dated, but they are somehow entirely acceptable when played by Mannheim Steamroller. The band have found their niche of combining instrumentals, synthesizers and choruses to make memorable Christmas music that keeps you attached to your stereo.
Unforgettable Song: "Veni Veni (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)"

9. A Very Special Christmas – Various Artists
This 1987 compilation was so successful that it spawned a series of seven compilations all together. The biggest stars of the time, from The Eurythmics and Sting to Madonna and Bon Jovi, all contributed music for the record, which was produced to raise money for the Special Olympics. This album excels because of its eclectic mix of artists and genres that reach across demographics and are enjoyable to all. It's a rare thing to get both U2 and The Pointer Sisters on one CD. This album should a staple in every Christmas collection.

Unforgettable Song: Whitney Houston – "Do You Hear What I Hear?" 

8. Christmas with The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys
Rarely do people associate Christmas with the sandy beaches of California, except when they're singing along to "Little Saint Nick." These legends of catchy surf rhythms and harmony struck gold when they released this album in 1964. It is a great mix of original Beach Boys songs written by Brian Wilson, but it also includes their surf rock riffs on classic Christmas melodies like "White Christmas," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Frosty the Snowman." The happiness this album gives will balance out the other reverent Christmas tunes in your collection.
Unforgettable Song: "We Three Kings of Orient Are"

7. Christmas Eve and Other Stories – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
This 1996 debut album from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is also the band's best. The band burst onto the scene by mixing familiar holiday songs with opera and progressive rock epicness. This may put off the older crowd because playing this record at full volume is a necessity, but it provides a great variation that diverts away from the crooner norm of Christmas music past. Instead of giving you feelings of drinking eggnog and having awkward family conversations, you'll feel as though you've been transported on an adventure to save the North Pole from impending snowman armies.
Unforgettable Song: "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24"

6. Songs for Christmas – Sufjan Stevens
This is one of the more recent Christmas selections we've included. Sufjan (Soof-yawn) Stevens, an indie music staple, released this collection of 5 EPs in one box set. In total, this collection boasts 44 holiday songs. Half of the songs are Sufjan's variations on Christmas classics such as "Silent Night," "Away in a Manger" and "O Holy Night." The other half are his quirky original songs that lean toward the festive side of the holidays, with songs called "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever," "Did I Make You Cry on Christmas" and "Get Behind Me, Santa!" This collection is for fans of independent artists with a touch of folk thrown in for good measure.
Unforgettable Song: "Sister Winter"

5. Christmas Portrait – The Carpenters
The Carpenters are responsible for a great deal of musical comfort food. Their memorable holiday record, "Christmas Portrait," is no exception. It's hard to deny love for Karen Carpenter's sweet voice as she is backed up by classical choirs and ringing bells to accentuate the festive yet poignant message. This album may sound a little eerie and quiet to your young ones, but it's a great CD to listen to as you watch the snowflakes fall outside your window. Few albums will put you more into the Christmas spirit.
Unforgettable Song: "Merry Christmas Darling"

4. Christmas - Michael Buble
This 2011 Christmas album is the most recent entry in our top 12 Christmas albums. Michael Buble has the singing ability of the classic crooners and the special skill of keeping his listeners from dozing off. There is little new material here in terms of the song choices, but he manages to put his romantic spin on each. Much credit should be given to Mariah Carey for her modern Christmas classic "All I Want for Christmas is You," and Buble puts his personality into the song. If you are singing along, you won't be as embarrassed. This is a worthy addition right alongside the classics.
Unforgettable Song: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

3. Elvis' Christmas Album
You can't have Christmas without hearing the longing "Blue Christmas" by the King of Rock and Roll himself. This album from 1957 is the best-selling Christmas album of all time. This record mixes Presley's iconic blues roots with slow, jazzy tempos that give you the feeling of indoor warmth, sipping hot cocoa. His rendition of "White Christmas" was quite controversial at the time of its release because of Bing
Crosby's still-popular version, but it has passed the test of time.
Unforgettable Song: "Silent Night"

2. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
There are few better albums to play while you sit comfortably in front of the fireplace. If you don't have a fireplace, then you'll have to make do with a furnace. Nat King Cole is one of the legendary Christmas singers, and this record is a compilation of his best selections celebrating Christmas. It is incredibly difficult to choose a favorite from this 20-track CD. Every song will inspire nostalgia for Christmases past as you hear the greats: "Deck the Halls," "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Caroling, Caroling."
Unforgettable Song: "The Christmas Song"

1. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
The original record was titled "Merry Christmas" and was a holiday-music game changer. This collection of classic Christmas songs was released in 1945. This record contains some great duets with both the Andrews Sisters and Carole Richards. This is the album that you always hear in the background but rarely attribute to Bing Crosby. Great tracks like "It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Mele Kalikimaka" have made this album the second highest selling Christmas album. The most famous track, "White Christmas," is still the best selling single ever, reaching sales in excess of 50 million.
Unforgettable Song: "White Christmas"


 
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