The Best Christmas Music CDs You Need to Buy

Geek!This is Scott Crews’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

(1) Sufjan Stevens – Songs for Christmas

  • Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Sufjan Stevens hasn’t had any mainstream attention (no matter how much his fans think he should).
  • Why You Should Listen to It: If you’ve never heard of Sufjan Stevens, it’s almost impossible to compare him to anyone else. “Sufjan Stevens: Songs for Christmas” is full of creative instrumentation, laid back tempos, and vocal harmonies, but it doesn’t have a lot of “over-production” that most albums suffer from these days. There are a few traditional Christmas songs on the disc. And it gives a lot of bang for your buck: he made the album into 5 CDs (over two hours of continuous music), and he doesn’t just do Christmas songs. It is a fantastic collection of music to get you in the Christmas spirit.

(2) MercyMe – The Christmas Sessions

  • Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because when your top 40 radio station got done playing “I Can Only Imagine,” you were okay with it.
  • Why You Should Be Listening to It: Because what made “I Can Only Imagine” a hit makes MercyMe a great band, and it isn’t their fault that your radio station played that song into the ground. The Christmas Sessions contains all the Christmas classics with new arrangements and amazing vocals. Tracks to check out: “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” and “Joesph’s Lullaby.”

(3) Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

  • Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because geeky guys don’t listen to Mariah Carey.
  • Why You Should Be Listening to It: Because there’s a reason it’s a top selling Christmas CD every year. It’s really, really good. It is important to realize that “Merry Christmas” is from back in the day when Mariah Carey was still making REAL music, and not the booty-pop garbage that her producers are pumping out now. It is possible to like this CD and completely preserve one’s manliness. Tracks to check out: “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” NOTE: On iTunes, there are two editions of this CD – one is 7.99 and one is 9.90. From what I can tell, there is no difference… so save two bucks if you can!

(4) Andy Williams – The Andy Williams Christmas Album

  • Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because if you’re under 30 years old, you’ve probably never heard of him.
  • Why You Should Be Listening to It: Because Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra are good… and Andy Williams is just as good (or probably even better). Sure, listen to Frank the rest of the year when you want big, smooth, classic vocals. But for Christmas, Andy Williams hits a home run. Check out “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” and “The Christmas Song.”

(5) Relient K – Let It Snow Baby… Let it Reindeer

  • Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because either you’ve never heard of them or you don’t like pop/punk at Christmas.
  • Why You Should Be Listening to It: There are two reasons to listen. The first is if you like pop/punk music (surging drum beats, driving guitars, vocal harmony). The second is if you like phenomenal Christmas music. If that is you, don’t go buy the entire CD. But DO go buy the two tracks “I Celebrate the Day” and “Silent Night / Away In A Manger.” They sound nothing like the rest of the CD, and “I Celebrate the Day” is a beautiful Jimmy Eat World-esque piano ballad… and literally the greatest song ever written about Christmas. Don’t go another Christmas without this song – you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

Okay, there you go. What do you think? What albums did I leave off? Remember: it’s the music that we AREN’T listening to… so, “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” is NOT eligible!

31 thoughts on “The Best Christmas Music CDs You Need to Buy”

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  2. Great post I am going to go and get a couple of those at target tonight. I hope you win if so give me the laptop. Just Kidding.

  3. Better yet, instead of buying these CDs, get a subscription to the Zune marketplace and just download them on your PC. If you have a Zune or other MP3 player, transfer the songs, otherwise just play them on your desktop.

    Zune Marketplace:
    $14.95/month subscription – “all you can eat” music, from millions of songs
    Keep 10 songs per month (you own)

  4. My chice wud be
    Christmas with Julie Andrews (Lossless)

    Julie Andrews’s clear and highly articulated vocal manner is both a blessing and a bit of a distraction on this 14-song reissue of her 1982 holiday album. Set against orchestral refinements and a genuinely inspired choice of less popular material, including “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “The Holy Boy,” “See Amid the Winter Snow,” and others, Andrews creates a dazzling Christmas mood full of somewhat concocted sentiment. Christmas with Julie Andrews boasts big production numbers that are long on satisfaction and arch theatricality. Her pitch is remarkable, but one wonders if she’s ever sung with any grit. For fans–and they number millions of children and adults who have grown up with her singing in films and soundtracks such as The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Victor Victoria–this timely collection will indeed be a cherished gift. — Martin Keller –

  5. I listened to some really great Christmas songs by Enya. The first being Oiche Chiuin and then O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Really great stuff. The album is called “And Winter Came”. If you have not heard it check it out.

  6. So I’ve been a fan of Christmas music since I can remember. I was that kid rocking out to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” on the playground with walkman. But my all time favorite Christmas album is Mowtown Christmas. but then again I’m a sucker for soul music.

  7. Great article Scott. We are always looking for a great Christmas album. Of course, we have the Elvis duet, both George Strait albums, and many more. Looks like I will be adding some more to our list! Merry Christmas!

  8. high five on the sufjan stevens album. I dowloaded some of his Christmas songs last year and really enjoyed them. And Relient K is always fun. i hope you get your prizes!

  9. “I Celebrate the Day” by Relient K is awesome! I completely agree! I have that album and have had it for years. It is probably my second or third favorite Christmas CD! I’m glad you actually picked a good one for your list. And you are correct, not many people have heard of it!

  10. I love Mariah Carey!

    I think telling a girl you like Mariah Carey’s Christmas CD is practically guaranteed to get you a date. It is that good!

    I’ve never heard of a couple of these. I’m going to have to check them out…

  11. Well, first off, you missed Josh Groban’s Christmas CD. And it’s awsome simply because Josh Groban is awesome.

    I’ll have to agree with the Mariah Carey – while I don’t have the CD, I’ve heard a handfull of songs from it, and they’re really good.

    Amy Grant’s Christmas album is also good, but the main song that I like on it is “Breath of Heaven.” If you don’t want to get the whole CD, at least check out that one song. Perhaps one of the best new songs (old classics can’t be compared with!)

    Lastly, you left off Jingle Cats’ Meowy Christmas (see … juuust kidding, but it is quite amusing!

  12. If I could be so bold as to plug our new Christmas album consisting of 17 original songs from lots of new indie bands from all over the world including the Cloud Room, Idaho, Jape and the Very Most. is where you can listen to it all. We think it’s great but then we are biased and obsessed with Christmas.

  13. Interesting selection – what a variety swing. How in the world do you know or would even listen to Andy Williams? He is good. I like Vince Gill from a few years ago “Breath of Heaven” I think. I play that one over and over.

  14. Great suggestions (especially Mariah Carey – I miss her…).

    I would also suggest Christmastime is Here by Erin O’Donnell (all jazzy and piano-y…). And the soundtrack to Home Alone (classic…)

  15. I love Love LOVE the Sufjan Christmas CD. Actually I like a lot of his CDs (which he has quite a few considering his lack of mainstream exposure).

    And even though Mariah is on the teeter totter between becoming a crazy, every girl will always swoon slightly when they hear her rendition of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.

    Strangely, a Christmas album that is surprisingly great is the SheDaisy Christmas album. Their harmonies are way intricate and the actual music is something I listen to year round.

  16. Mercy Me is Solid and Mariah has a powerful tool! I would love to hear her throw down on some Gospel Classics and New Praise Music..

  17. It sounds like a good variety of choices you’ve offered. I hadn’t checked out Mercy Me’s Christmas cd yet, but I have seen him live and he has an amazing voice.

    I’ve heard one of Mariah Carey’s Christmas songs, and it was good. I should check out the rest.

    Andy Williams, huh? I’m not sure why, but I could never get into Andy (and I’m quite a bit past 30.) 🙂 But I will check out his Christmas offerings.

    And, Relient K is my favorite band, so I’ve been listening to their Christmas music for a while. The arrangements are very different from most other Christmas music out there, and you can find the humorous and more serious tunes.


  18. fun list! mariah carey has surely had an interesting time of the last few years, but that album is definitely a christmas classic.

    my favorite christmas album of all time is “a christmas together” with john denver & the muppets. the muppets sing christmas. just great.

    equally as great that i recently found out about: matt surowiec and the tricentennial band sing “emmet otter’s jug-band christmas.” this is my favorite christmas movie, and this newer release includes all the greatest original songs from the movie. it’s really great.

  19. You missed the need to listen to THE COMPLETE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION BY DORIS DAY.

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