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?