Top Favorite Christmas Albums

December 6, 2011 Uncategorized 29

So, last year I posted my Top 10 Favorite Christmas Songs. Some of you may scoff and say this post is really just the same as the other, but I disagree. A lot of my favorite Christmas songs are not on any of the below albums and on the reverse some of my favorite albums are absolutely fantastic but don’t have a song that I’d consider in my top (er) 8.

Merry Christmas – Mariah Carey
No one belts it out quite like Mariah does and her version of All I Want for Christmas has become a classic. Her CD is filled with classic Christmas songs—religious and secular—and it’s nearly impossible not to want to dance around to her songs or be moved to tears. Yes, pop-tastic to the extreme and pseudo-gospel complete with a choir background, but this album is absolutely fantastic. Her rendition of O Holy Night and All I Want for Christmas are two of my absolute favorites.

Christmas Portrait – The Carpenters
Portrait is an apt description for this one as this truly is a production rather than simply a random grouping of songs. With symphonic medleys and of course Karen Carpenter’s super syrupy sappy voice (voice of an angel I say) it’s hard not to be reminded of a Christmas program at your local school. Recommended for true Christmas music connoisseurs. I fear it’s either love or hate with this one. But for me, love. Love love love.

For Christmas – Peter Kater
Both my parents casually (yet beautifully) play the piano, so this CD feels like home to me. Composed of thirteen Christmas classics, Peter Kater’s album is solely piano music and while the arrangements are a little flowery than some might prefer, they provide the perfect background for a special holiday dinner. I’ve been listening to Peter Kater’s collection for as long as I can remember and it will forever be one of my favorites. Though I’m not making an individual mention, I also recommend George Winston’s December. Very different style from Peter Kater but also beautifully arranged piano music.

Noel – Josh Groban
Cue the church bells, add in Groban’s deep and velvety voice, then bring in the children’s choir, crescendo on the tympani and finally goosebumps from head to toe. Seriously—is there a more beautiful voice than Josh Groban’s? His version of Ave Maria is one of the most gorgeous I’ve heard and it’s difficult not to sit back and soak up every minute of this CD. The arrangements are simple as Groban is the highlight, but the orchestra is wonderful and the children’s choir accompaniment is angelic. With every song I think I’ve found a favorite on the CD, but then the next tops the last. Noel is destined to become a classic.

These are Special Times – Celine Dion
Special songs for a special time—Celine Dion’s Christmas CD has the perfect mix of secular and religious, well-known and non-traditional holiday songs in her collection. Definitely Top 40 type music—a little more relaxed than the pop-tastic CDs but also a little jazzier than Josh Groban’s, but every song is full of joy and heart. I love the majority of the songs on this album, but The Prayer, a duet with Andrea Bocelli, is the highlight of the CD. Gets me everytime.

Wintersong – Sarah McLachlan
I have to admit that I was disappointed the first time I heard Sarah McLachlan’s album Wintersong, especially as I am a big fan of her music. The more I listened to the album, though, the more the songs grew on me. Perhaps not the chill-inducing songs that Celine, Mariah, or Josh produce, but this collection of holiday and winter songs have a way of sticking with you. Not great for dancing around the Christmas tree, but Wintersong is the perfect collection for curling up next to the fire with a cuppa cocoa. The title track, Wintersong is achingly beautiful and though I’m loyal to Joni Mitchell, I adore McLachlan’s version of River. My favorite, though, is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Yes indeed.

Glee The Christmas Album Vol 1.
Beginning with We Need a Little Christmas, I dare you to listen and not find yourself tapping your foot along to the beat. I’m pretty sure that if you let yourself get carried away, you’ll probably find yourself dancing around your house enlisting anyone around to join in on the Christmas spirit. Even if you’re not a fan of Glee the TV show, this is a rockin’ Christmas CD with so many wonderful rendition of Christmas favorites. I’m pretty partial to the Baby It’s Cold Outside duet with Kurt and Blaine, but the version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is one I could listen to over and over and the first time I heard the O Holy Night track, I had tears streaming down my face.

Glee The Christmas Album Vol 2.
It was pretty dang gutsy opening Volume 2 of the Glee Christmas CD with All I want for Christmas—Mariah’s signature opening piece. But…they sure as heck pull it off. Throw Glee Vol 2 into the pop-tastic Christmas CD category, but it’s so much fun. Lots of familiar songs and a few less familiar songs, but plenty of songs to sing to and dance around to. Glee Vol 2 is perfect for decorating the Christmas tree or baking holiday cookies. And you know what makes a great Christmas song? One that makes you hear an old song in a whole different way. Love Glee’s version of Do You Hear What I Hear!

The very cheesy but always upbeat All I Want for Christmas is You:

Other honorable mentions include Vince Vance and Valiants, Martina McBride, and the Very Special Christmas series.

Sorry Mom, Neil Diamond did not make the list. Nor did Aaron Neville.

Which Christmas CDs do you have playing in rotation this time of year?

29 Responses to “Top Favorite Christmas Albums”

  1. Sara C

    I lovelovelove Wintersong. It is absolutely the perfect album for the kind of quiet winters I prefer. No blustering snowstorms and “getting out in it” and whatnot for me. A cup of something warm, a blanket, and a book in front of the tree IS a Christmas gift all its own.

  2. Suzanne

    Michael Buble’s new Christmas CD is in heavy rotation (I am just a bit obsessed). I also love Harry Connick Jr.’s Christmas music.

    Agreed on Dion/Bocelli singing The Prayer. Their voices together are just beautiful.

  3. Kailana

    I love the Groban CD. If I made a list one that would be on it for sure is Amy Grant. I really like her Christmas stuff and listen to it every year! The Carpenters were played every year when I was a child. I know pretty much all of the songs and have my own copy now. :)

  4. Allie

    I’m glad you have the Josh Groban title on here. He is an absolute favorite of mine and I could listen to him sing for hours…

  5. Trish

    *Sara C – Yes, Wintersong is so perfect for staying in out of the chill. There are some songs that I still skip, but mostly I love the unconventional twists of the CD.

    *Rhapsody – Oh ya, I’m all about the cheese when it comes to Christmas songs! ;)

    *Bermuda – Don’t have any of these?! Well, there’s a lot of variety so certainly there would be at least one you’d enjoy!

    *Lisa – Let me know what you end up picking!!

    *Suzanne – I have GOT to get Michael Buble’s Christmas CD–not sure what I’ve been waiting for. I havent’ heard Harry Connick Jr’s, but I bet it’s great!

    *Wordlily – Definitely check out the Peter Kater! A little frilly but really gorgeous. Will check out Keaggy’s.

    *Melissa – I have a CD with a lot of old classics but I couldn’t think of the title of the CD so didn’t include. I know, lame. ;) Love Bing Crosby, though!

    *Kailana – I’ve heard so many great things about Amy Grant’s Christmas CD but haven’t checked it out. Need to!! And glad you like The Carpenters. Definitely think it’s an acquired taste. ;)

    *Allie – Isn’t Groban’s CD gorgeous? I don’t have any of his other music but do LOVE Noel.

  6. Meg

    Sarah McLachlan’s voice brings tears to my eyes! And I could listen to “River” over and over and never get tired of it. So gorgeous.

    At my house, Christmas isn’t Christmas until we’ve listened to ‘NSYNC’s “Home For Christmas,” Hanson’s “Snowed In” and holiday tunes from the Ray Conniff Singers, Elvis and more. They’re totally the background of every holiday!

  7. Nicole

    I tend to go pop music all the way, until just a few days before christmas, and then I flip the switch to some more religious tunes. O Holy Night gets me every time :)

  8. Michelle

    I would agree with you on The Carpenters. I love Karen Carpenter. So pure and beautiful. I also love Sarah’s Wintersong. And this is not an album, but I love Judy Garland’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

  9. Melissa

    The one thing I love about Wintersong is that you can actually play it in the bleak mid-winter and it seems appropriate; its a beautiful album.

  10. Debi

    GASP. There are people who hate The Carpenters? Please say it isn’t so!

    I love sooooooo many Christmas albums. But probably the one that gets the most play around here is Barenaked for the Holidays–just because it’s one we *all* like.

  11. Amy

    These are some really great classic choices. I love Wintersong because I feel like it captures the melancholy and beauty of Christmas in a way few do.

  12. Cath

    All I Want For Christmas is my favorite Christmas song ever. My punk rock guitarist husband laughs so hard at me as I scrub myself down in the shower, struggling to hit those high notes. Is yoouu-ououououu!

  13. Rae

    Okay, I have to admit, I really haven’t listed to any Christmas music yet. The last 6 weeks of my life have been insanely busy November was unusually warm for New York, so it really just hasn’t felt like Christmas, and listening to Christmas music just seemed a little weird.
    That being said, THANK YOU for posting this because for the first time this season, I’m really excited to listen to some Christmas tunes. :) I may just have to listen to some today while doing dreaded expenses.
    I grew up on Manheim Steamroller so that will always hold a special place in my heart.
    Do you know the version of “All I want for Christmas” from Love Actually? I really really love it. It’s pretty amazing such a classic has been able to be remade. I’ve never heard the Glee version but will have to check it out. I admit, I have never been a fan of the show, but your recap has me sold. I do like some of the songs I’ve heard on the show and feel a bit of loyalty because one of my friends sings backup.
    I think I’m in the hate group for the Carpenters. Sad. I’ve never realized it, but I have one Carpenters song on a Christmas mix and I always find myself skipping it.
    I have to download Peter Kater. I love me some piano!
    Josh Groban, TOTALLY AGREE. Oh Come All Ye Faithful with the MoTab? Brings me to tears.
    Not totally related, but do you know the song Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson? It’s hands down one of my Christmas favs. It a little meloncholy but so beautiful.
    My other favorite albums are Christmas with the Rat Pack, introduced to me be Elise, and Ella Fitzgerald’s A Swinging Christmas.

  14. Rae

    Also, I’m with Shellie, Judy Garland’s, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is also one of my favorites. Makes me a little sad, but I love it.

  15. Trish

    *Meg – You crack me up! Looks like you like the pop-tastic Christmas music as well. ;) though I have to admit I Haven’t heard any of the ones you mention (except Elvis). Yes, LOVE River, too.

    *Care – Please don’t shoot daggers at me with your eyes when I tell you this—but I have the Martina McBride CD. And while I like it and think her voice is gorgeous, it doesn’t do much for me. (ducking…)

    *Trisha – WAIT. The ONLY Christmas CD you’ve ever played is Bing Crosby? Seriously? Oh Trisha…

    *Nicole – It’s the Falllllll on your Knees part…gets me too. Such a beautiful beautiful song.

    *Michelle – I have a classics Christmas songs CD that has Judy Garland’s version of Merry Little Christmas. Love that song, too! Any version really.

    *Melissa – I agree—Wintersong CD really fits the mood of a winter’s day, especially when cold! Her voice is so beautiful!

    *Debi – Ha! Maybe HATE was a bit harsh of term. But I know people who really don’t like it. Haven’t heard Barenaked for the Holidays but need to check it out!!

    *Amy – That’s such a great way to describe Wintersong album—melancholy and beautiful! She does a great job of conveying both.

    *Cath – LOL!!! All I Want for Christmas is definitely a great one to dance to. Love the version on Love, Actually.

    *Rae – I’ve just been WAITING for you to leave me this long ass comment—after hearing your STELLAR collection at Bake Day last year I was hoping you’d have some great suggestions for me. And MoTab? Ha! Never heard that before but love.

    *Care Redux – We’ve discussed on twitter and I stand firm. You take your Martina and I’ll take my Celine and maybe we can meet in the middle with Mariah? ;)

  16. Elise

    I’m all about the Michael Buble holiday station on Pandora this year. I put that on & the collection of Christmas hits (actually quite a variety of artists, secular/religious songs, singing/instrumental) can keep me going for hours.

  17. Trish

    *Elise – I have GOT to get Michael Buble’s album! And I’ll check out the Pandora station. Internet on phone is slow today at work–was listening to Indie Christmas station earlier. Love Pandora!

  18. Rae

    You have such a good memory! I completely forgot I plugged my phone in and we listened to my Christmas mix. I’m glad you guys liked it!

  19. Thoughts of Joy

    Oddly enough, we didn’t listen to a lot of Christmas music this year. However, I love The Carpenters and Celine Dion. I think I have OD on Glee, so I haven’t given any attention to their album.

  20. Trish

    *Kim – NO AARON NEVILLE! :) Though mom made us listen to Neil during bake day and it was all I could do not to tear off my ears. Ha!

    *Rachel – Yup–you’ve got a great collection! I remember being jealous. ;)

    *Joy – I haven’t been watching Glee at all this season–didn’t like the turn the show made at the end of last (too much about sex), but I do enjoy their Christmas CDs.

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