By Melanie Bethune, December 4 2014 —
We’ve all heard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” enough this holiday season, so you might be looking to shake up your Christmas playlist. Thankfully, Christmas music has come a long way since you were a kid, and there are hundreds of fantastic mixes out there.
Whether you’re a fan of popular mainstream jams, nostalgic campy fun, or a relaxed set to listen to on a quiet afternoon, there is a Christmas album out there for you. Here are a few of our top picks.
A modern day classic. You’d be hard pressed to go anywhere during the holiday season without hearing the sweet crooning of Michael Bublé’s Christmas.
He’s a Canadian hero, bravely driving us through the cold with his accompanying jazz band. There’s a great range to this festive collection, making it suitable and appealing to every holiday listener.
From the subdued stillness of “Ave Maria” to an uptempo remix of “Jingle Bells,” Bublé keeps us entertained and in the holiday spirit until the end.
The album avoids traditional religious carols and focuses on covers of commercialized hits. It includes Mariah Carey’s ever-present “All I Want For Christmas is You” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” All the songs have Bublé’s signature swing and vibrance. Stick around until the end of the album and you’ll be treated to a five-second greeting from the man himself.
“This is Michael Bublé wishing you a very Merry Christmas,” he says. Oh, Mr. Bublé, we shall, so long as your songs keep us warm.
Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Bing Crosby and John Lennon were on constant rotation in our house during the holiday season. But one selection sticks out in my memory: Boney M and their 1981 Christmas album, aptly titled Christmas Album. This group of Jamaican singers brought together by a German producer are everything you could wish for and more.
Lovable in its pure absurdity, it’s the perfect combination of late-70s disco covers and surprisingly innovative originals. “Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord,” has somehow snuck its way into the Christmas canon. The recurring chorus of “And man will live, forever more, because of Christmas day” is as earwormy as they come. You’ll find a smile on your face and your hips starting to shake and as soon as it starts. If you’re looking for an upbeat and fun soundtrack to your Christmas exploits, this serves as the perfect party mix to laugh and drink a few glasses of rum and eggnog to.
For an added bonus, look up the “Mary’s Boy Child” music video and marvel in the masses of white fur coats and 1970s era lens flares.
She & Him
A Very She & Him Christmas
For those not willing to commit to the full pop treatment, the debut of She & Him’s A Very She & Him Christmas in 2011 was a magical gift.
These calming tracks are a quiet and pleasant contrast to any holiday madness that may plague your life. Fans of the now-classic holiday film Elf will remember a “Baby It’s Cold Outside” duet with Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel in her pre-fringe-bang days. She returns to the tune on the album, only this time with bandmate M. Ward. The song is suave and sexy, combining Ward and Deschanel’s vocals with a groovy swing.
The duo becomes as hot as a burning hearth on updated covers of classics such as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Little St. Nick,” bringing a sense of easy listening to each track.
The casual strumming of a ukelele may not be the first thing you associate with Christmas time, but it adds a much needed sense of serenity to your holiday gatherings.
No single track on the album stands out as particularly blaring or obtrusive, offering an enchanting listen for a quiet day at home by the fire with the people you love.