With the surplus of holiday music these days, the novelty of the Christmas album has worn off. However, every year a few gems surface from some unexpecting artists (who we thought were too cool to make a holiday album). They might claim that they were being ironic, but I’m sure they were laughing-all-the-way when they recorded the sleigh bells! And of course there will always be the classics to fall back on, if contemporary holiday tunes make you nauseous.
Sufjan Stevens - Silver & Gold (2012)
As one of the most prolific Christmas music composers ever, Sufjan Stevens has released his SECOND box-set of 5 EPs (the first was 2006’s Songs for Christmas Vol. 1-5). With joyful guest stars, caroling harmonies, spacey artwork, stickers and temporary tattoos -- this is the ultimate gift package for hipsters, and everyday music lovers, everywhere.
She & Him - A Very She & Him Christmas (2011)
She’s best known from the popular TV show New Girl, but Zooey Deschanel is also a well-known indie pop singer. In collaboration with musical troubadour M. Ward, Deschanel’s retro vocal style makes this a holiday favorite for years to come (much like her starring role in the movie Elf).
Andy Williams - Merry Christmas (1965)
Elvis vs. Andy Williams? No contest! I know we could debate the classics all day, but the quickest way to get in the holiday spirit is to cue up “Sleigh Ride” and let this unforgettable album spin on repeat. OK MAYBE I'll consider John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas as a second place pick.
Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
No surprise here. This is by far the most listenable Christmas album (since it’s mostly instrumental) and network TV will continue to air the prime-time special until the end of time. Everytime I watch it though, I always wonder if Charlie ever got a chance to direct that school play that he worked so hard on.
Tracey Thorn - Tinsel and Lights (2012)
As one of the more underrated vocalist around, Tracey Thorn (Everything But The Girl) has been turning out beautifully deep melodies since the ‘80s. I wouldn’t recommend spinning this album at the office holiday party though. Save this introspective set of songs for a private listening session with headphones, or for a singalong while driving alone your car.
To recap, good Christmas music can only be from 1965 or by an indie artist! Well alright, there might be a few exceptions in between. What are your favorite holiday albums? Let us know in the comments below...