Holiday, Christmas, Top 10, List

10 Iconic Holiday Albums

As the holidays grow closer, the frequency of carols on radio stations and jingly pop songs playing in busy shopping malls increases. There's an understated universality to holiday music. Whether you like country, hip-hop, blues, pop, or jazz, you can find covers of "White Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" within your preferred genre.

But where do our most beloved holiday tunes come from...y'know, that good ol' classic stuff? And what few albums constitute the majority of holiday music we hear every December?

Those are the questions we are going to answer in today's top 10! From Bing Crosby to the Beach Boys and Michael Bublé, here are 10 Iconic Holiday Albums that the world can't get enough of every yuletide season.

1. Elvis' Christmas Album - Elvis Presley (1957)

Considering how influential Presley was in the 50s, it's no surprise this holiday record shot to the top of the Billboard 200 chart upon its release. It stayed at #1 for a month and sold nearly 20 million copies.

Elvis's Christmas Album remains a classic because of its lighthearted mix of rock & roll ("Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me"), graceful versions of traditional holiday standards ("O Little Town of Bethlehem"), and nods to his country and gospel roots ("Take My Hand, Precious Lord"). Of course, most people know this album for the hit "Blue Christmas," but the whole tracklist is great to play while you're driving down the road to your parents' house for their holiday party.

2. Merry Christmas - Mariah Carey (1994)

Notice how Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" flies to the top of the charts every holiday season? It's all thanks to this beloved 90s' holiday album. Besides the showstopping hit single everyone knows, this record blends traditional Christmas sounds with R&B and gospel tracks. Songs like "Joy to the World" and "O Holy Night" show off Carey's voice - a voice that, several years later, is now subconsciously connected to the sound of the holiday season.

Although the record only peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, Merry Christmas is considered the best-selling holiday album of all time and has sold fourteen million copies worldwide. It’s certified five-times platinum in the U.S., double platinum by RIAJ (making it the fourth best-selling album in Japan by a Western artist), and six-times platinum by ARIA.

3. Christmas - Michael Bublé (2011)

The seventh studio album from Bublé, Christmas spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and has appeared in the top 10 every December holiday season since its release in 2011. Christmas has sold 4.3 million copies in the U.S. Similar to Mariah Carey and her holiday album, this record cemented Bublé as an iconic voice of the modern Christmas sound.

There's no one particular track on Christmas that stands out among others - and we consider that a good thing. It's just a really well-tailored tracklist. We particularly love Bublé's renditions of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," and "Holly Jolly Christmas."

4. Noël - Josh Groban (2007)

Oh, Josh Groban...what would we do every holiday season without you? Everyone knows Groban's voice has an angelic and ethereal quality, making it the perfect sound to belt out holiday tunes. If your mother hasn't played this album while you're decorating the tree with her, you haven't experienced a true holiday season. And who can forget that tear-jerking Polar Express song "Believe"?

5. A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector - Phil Spector (1963)

Spector's "Wall of Sound" production adds grandeur and drama to every track on this beloved record. "Sleigh Ride" by The Ronettes gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling while you listen. Their version of "Frosty the Snowman" will do the same thing. Additionally, Darlene Love's performances on "White Christmas" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" will knock your cozy socks off. Every song on this album feels like it exists in its own little world, and it's no wonder Brian Wilson has claimed Spector's project to be his favorite album of all time.

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Who would have thought the West Coast jazz soundtrack to a children's holiday CBS special would contribute to the overall sound of the season? With instrumental tunes like "Skating" and "Christmas Is Coming," the Vince Guaraldi Trio somehow nails a perfect balance of childhood anticipation and wintry introspection. And who doesn't want to dance along with the Peanuts characters to the iconic "Linus and Lucy?" It's not even a song specifically about Christmas, yet still encapsulates the warm joy of the season. As Peanuts creator Charles Schulz said, "The way they walk and bounce a little bit – he captured that in his music."

7. A Motown Christmas (1973)

This 70s compilation album takes the best Motown acts and their stunning holiday songs - including the Jackson 5's "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town," Stevie Wonder's "What Christmas Means to Me," and the Supremes' "My Favorite Things" - and wraps them all together in a neat bow. Simple, yet so satisfying. There's nothing more to say about this helpful little mix except for thank you, Berry Gordy.

8. White Christmas - Bing Crosby (1986)

At this point in history, Bing Crosby is basically synonymous with Christmas. Crosby combined his 1945 album Merry Christmas with his rendition of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and other holiday hits to form this 1986 album issue. It's hard to resist Crosby's smooth and elegant vocal magic on "Silver Bells," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and even the fun Hawaiian-tinged "Mele Kalikimaka" with the Andrews Sisters. This album is what the holidays are all about, and has inspired other artists attempting holiday tracks for decades.

9. Beach Boys' Christmas Album - Beach Boys (1964)

Tired of the cold winter air and need something more tropical? That's where the Beach Boys' great 1964 holiday record, Beach Boys' Christmas Album, comes in. Everyone recognizes the tune "Little Saint Nick" off this project, but fun numbers like "Santa's Beard," "Little Deuce Coupe," and the jazzy "Frosty the Snowman" will also fill your ears with merry bliss. Side 2 has more ballad-oriented ditties, all orchestrated by Four Freshmen arranger Dick Reynolds.

10. Christmas Eve and Other Stories - Trans-Siberian Orchestra (2004)

While we're sad the dreamy and popular "Christmas Canon" isn't on this album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories is a delightful mix of holiday rock covers from the large American band. Everyone can't get enough of the headbang-worthy "Carol of the Bells" cover "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo," but other tracks - like "A Mad Russian's Christmas," "First Snow," and "O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night" - also bring the heat. This orchestra might be unconventional compared to the bands on other holiday songs, but Trans-Siberian still brings the spirit.

Looking for some holiday music? We've got you covered! Head to for a selection of holiday stations.

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Article Image: Wearing black shades and headphones, Santa Claus listens to music on an MP3 player. (gstockstudio via DepositPhotos.)

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About Kathryn Milewski

  • New Jersey