Every year, a stream of Christmas albums is released, containing their obligatory covers of the season’s most beloved classics.
From Elvis, Sinatra, Dean Martin and Cliff Richard to Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, Celine Dion and K.T. Tunstall, artists from different eras and musical genres introduce the classic tunes to a new audience. They also attempt to nab the biggest share of the lucrative Christmas record sales.
Last Week, Opera singer Josh Groban scored the biggest selling album of 2007 in America with his Christmas collection “Noel.
Meanwhile, an invasion of Christmas hits such as Mariah Carrey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You, The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York and Wham’s “Last Christmas is hitting the British top 20 singles chart. Katie Melua and Eva Cassidy’s rendition of the Louis Armstrong Christmas classic “What a Wonderful World is the current number one single in the UK.
Whether you’re satisfied with your current Christmas record collection, shopping for new ones or hungry for alternative material, here is our pick of the top five Christmas albums.
“That Christmas Feeling by Bing Crosby
No Christmas record collection is complete without the “White Christmas crooner. Taken from sessions recorded in the late 40s and 50s, the 1958 album contains lesser-known Crosby Christmas songs including “Christmas Is A-Comin’ and “O Fir Tree Dark. Crosby’s warm, commanding and memorable voice is the perfect companion for the long winter nights of December.
“Snow Angels by Over the RhineThis is the year’s best, most innovative Christmas album from Cincinnati’s folk rock band. The tracks are all original and not all related to Christmas.
Singer Karin Bergquist’s wistful, gentle voice is like a series of long sighs.
Mostly lively and joyful, a few tracks are slightly melancholic – such as “All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue and “We’re Gonna Pull Through. “Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens
Since 2001, prolific singer/songwriter Stevens has been recording numerous traditional carols and hymns along with original holiday-themed songs. Last year, he decided to release his massive collection, spread over five discs.
The result is an instant classic, encompassing Stevens’ multi-instrumental indie sound while preserving the spirit of the classics. Stevens’ arrangements are brisk, and simply gorgeous. He wears whimsy on his sleeve, and there’s a yearning in his songs for the sensation Christmas infuses into life.
“Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach
Bach’s forgotten and overlooked masterpiece might not be on par with the “B minor Mass or “St. Matthew’s Passion. It’s also nowhere near as famous as Handel’s “Messiah, one of the most well known and celebrated classical works. Yet there’s an inexplicable joyful, grand and perhaps divine quality about this Oratorio. Each of Bach’s six cantatas depicts a different scene from Christ’s birth. The texts of these compositions are lifted from the Gospel of St. Luke. The chorus was originally performed in German by regular folks, and hence the feeling of accessibility and affection that constantly shimmers every time these compositions are performed.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi
Guaraldi’s score for the 1965 Christmas special ranks among the greatest Christmas records in history. Guaraldi brought his brand of contemporary jazz to the young fans of the Peanuts gang and successfully captured the overwhelming innocence and beauty of Christmas from a child’s viewpoint. “Brown creator Charles Schulz’s critique of commercialism and Christian themes is reflected in Guaraldi’s bittersweet, slightly sad interpretations of “What Child Is This and “The Christmas Song. Charming and terrifically sweet.