12 essential holiday records to get you into the Christmas spirit
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ShutterstockChristmas music isn't exactly a genre; many of the songs compiled here are standards done in different styles, be it jazz or swing or rock 'n' roll. Other artists take it upon themselves to write their own songs celebrating the holidays, leaving us with hits from Mariah Carey and Run DMC. But the one thread tying all of these artists and styles together is the goal of bringing people together to think about what the holiday season means to them, and setting the mood for your party. And since people seemed to enjoy my last vinyl list, I thought it appropriate to make another one; tis the season, after all.
I must mention that there are some great records I sadly couldn't find available on vinyl, that I would kick myself for not including in an article about Christmas music: "Christmas Interpretations" by Boyz II Men, "Cee Lo's Magic Moment" by Cee Lo Green, "Home for Christmas" by N*SYNC, and my favorite holiday album of all time, Sufjan's "Songs for Christmas."
But with that out of the way, below I've collected a few of my favorite Christmas records that you can spin while decorating the tree. Happy holidays.
�A Charlie Brown Christmas� by Vince Guaraldi Trio
AmazonWhat it is: The soundtrack to the television special you know and love. This record marks the first time that Guaraldi scored a Peanuts feature, the role that would define his career. While this album doesn�t have all of the classic carols for you to sing along to in the car, the songs are all warmly familiar and some of the easiest listening you�ll ever find. You�d be hard pressed to find a better record to spin during your Christmas party.
Key Tracks: �Linus and Lucy� and �Christmas Time Is Here� (Instrumental)
Buy It: $27.90
�A Very She & Him Christmas� by She & Him
AmazonWhat it is: A Christmas collection by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Eight years after Deschanel had a successful run as a store-elf and Will Ferrell love-interest in �Elf� she and her band mate put together an album of holiday standards featuring her beautiful coo and M. Ward�s tasty guitar tones. Her voice is pretty perfect for this type of thing.
Key Tracks: �Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas� and �Rockin� Around the Christmas Tree"
Buy It: $17.38
�Merry Christmas� by Mariah Carey
AmazonWhat it is: Mariah Carey�s fourth studio album and the best-selling Christmas album of all time, putting out over 15 million copies worldwide. More importantly, this is the album that blessed the world with �All I Want for Christmas is You.� Can you imagine the holidays without that song? What would we sing at Christmas karaoke? What song would be used in �Love Actually� as the climax of the cute kid story? We are blessed to exist on the same planet as this song.
Key Tracks: �All I Want color cars for kids - https://Www.Youtube.com/, Christmas is You"
Buy It: $22.99
"A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector� by Various Artists
AmazonWhat it is: A collection of holiday standards performed by Spector�s artists and produced by Spector himself, leading the record to get his signature �Wall of Sound� treatment. The album was declared the 142nd greatest album of all time according to Rolling Stone, the only Christmas album to make the list. Brian Wilson, leader of The Beach Boys, has often cited it as his favorite album of all time. Of almost every �Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time� list that I checked before producing this article, this record claimed the number one spot. It contains your favorite version of many caroling classics, even if you don�t know it yet.
Key Tracks: �Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)� by Darlene Love and �I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus� by The Ronettes
Buy It: $39.99
"The Beach Boys' Christmas Album� by The Beach Boys
AmazonWhat it is: The Beach Boys taking on the holidays. The album consists of a Side A of mostly original Christmas songs and a Side B of mostly covers. Wilson brings the angelic harmonies that made the group famous to basically every track, some sounding closer to hymns than pop records. The perfect album if you're celebrating Christmas on the beach.
Key Tracks: �Little Saint Nick� and �I�ll Be Home for Christmas"
Buy It: $22.99
"Merry Christmas� by Bing Crosby
AmazonWhat it is: Bing Crosby�s Christmas album. It contains �White Christmas� which is the greatest selling single of all time with over 50 million copies sold. It�s next closest competitor is 17 million behind, so I think Bing has a pretty safe lead. If you�re into Christmas classics this is an album that belongs in your collection.
Key Tracks: �White Christmas� and �Silver Bells"
Buy It: $24.99
�Christmas� by Michael Buble
AmazonWhat it is: Michael Buble reminding us that while he is not a classic crooner the likes of Frank Sinatra, he might be as close as we get to that aesthetic in our lifetime. He is a gift to all who want to keep hearing standards done to their fullest, classiest, swingingest potential.
Key Tracks: �Have a Holly Jolly Christmas� and �Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Buy It: $16.86
"A Motown Christmas� by Various Artists
AmazonWhat it is: A compilation put together by Motown Records featuring The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, and Smokey Robinson. It�s all of the Christmas songs that are close to your heart played with a full horn section and sung with soul.
Key Tracks: �Santa Claus is Coming to Town� by The Jackson Five and �What Christmas Means to Me� by Stevie Wonder
Buy It: $37.77
"A Very Special Christmas� by Various Artists
AmazonWhat it is: The first of what is now many Christmas compilation albums produced to benefit the Special Olympics. The album was produced by Jimmy Iovine, cofounder of Interscope Records and Beats Electronics. Since this first record in 1987, seven more records have been produced all benefiting the same cause. Personally, I am eternally grateful for this record as The Pointer Sisters rendition of �Santa Clause is Coming to Town� is the one that Bruce Springsteen covers in what is arguably the greatest Christmas rock 'n' roll song to ever exist.
Key Tracks: �Christmas in Hollis� by Run DMC, �Run Rudolph Run� by Bryan Adams, and �Back Door Santa� by Bon Jovi
Buy It: $39.99
�Elf� by Various Artists
AmazonWhat it is: Soundtrack to the funniest Christmas movie ever made.
Key Tracks: �Baby It�s Cold Outside� and �Sleigh Ride"
Buy It: $23.98
"A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra� by Frank Sinatra
AmazonWhat it is: The first Christmas album from the legendary crooner. Voices don�t really get better than this.
Key Tracks: �Jingle Bells� and �It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"
Buy It: $23.84
"Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas� by Ella Fitzgerald
AmazonWhat it is: Ella Fitzgerald's foray into the Christmas standards. One of the best aspects of this album is how none of the songs really sound like carols; they're all just swinging jazz arrangements with lyrics that happen to be about Santa and snow and chestnuts. The First Lady of Song is always easy listening, this record just goes better with cocoa than her others.
Key Tracks: "Let It Snow!" and "Sleigh Ride"
Buy It: $23.98