Twelve Holiday Records that Don’t Suck

Did you know that Mannheim Steamroller has three of the biggest selling holiday records of all time? (Gag.) What about the fact that the all time best selling holiday album is by Kenny G? (Double gag.)

Holiday music has indeed taken a turn for the worst over the years. The last thing I want to hear as I celebrate this most festive time of year is Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber butchering holiday classics, or even worse, attempting to write their own. As you take time to celebrate the holidays with your friends and family, don’t sacrifice true Holiday classics for the current pop darling capitalizing on the success of a Top 40 hit. Take pride in your holiday music collection and add a selection or two from these timeless recordings with a few modern classics thrown in for fun.


Phil Spector – A Christmas Gift for You: It’s been called the greatest Rock ‘n Roll Christmas album of all time. The legendary wall-of-sound is suited perfectly with The Ronettes, The Crystals, and the incredible Darlene Love.


Ultra-Lounge Presents – Christmas Cocktails: Christmas music from the ’50s and ’60s that was  considered to be “adult pop” at the time. Now simply referred to as space-age bachelor-pad music, there are 21 classic tracks that are sure to keep your cocktail party warm and fuzzy.


Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song: It really doesn’t get any better than this. The true “King of Christmas” is an essential for EVERY Holiday music collection.


Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart: It’s been called the most anticipated Holiday record that you only want to hear once. But hey, it’s Dylan.


She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas: Have yourself a lo-fi hipster Christmas, make the Yule-tide just ok. (Sing it with me.) Nothing special here but it is an interesting take on some well known classics.


Christmas With the Rat Pack – Timeless, fun, classic, Sammy, Frank, Dino—enough said.


Monster Ballads Xmas – Various Artists: Skid Row, Winger, Faster Pussycat, Dokken, Twisted Sister—this one comes more than a decade late, but someone’s gotta pay for their Hair Metal pension.


Ray Charles – The Spirit of Christmas: What can I say about this one? Ray is the man! He puts his signature jazzed up bluesy seal of approval on every song. Another timeless classic that will never be matched.


Brian Wilson – What I Really Want for Christmas: Coming off as a bit hokey at times, the masterful arrangements make up for that and then some. A refreshing sound that’s undeniably catchy.


Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics: Some of the finest original Holiday music to come out in years. How can you go wrong with instant classics such as: “Swiss Coloney Beef Log,” “Christmas Time in Hell,”and Cartman’s stunning rendition of “O Holy Night”?


Brian Setzer – Christmas Rocks: Fantastic compilation of this former Stray Cat’s previous holiday offerings. Fun and lively, this one will definitely get your party started with a bang. Dig that crazy Christmas!


Christmas with The Chipmunks: The original classic from everyone’s childhood. So much better than the recent digital makeover that has made a resurgence over the years. It’s still fun to reminiscence, but now that I listen to this record I think that Dave was a bit hard on Alvin and his adopted Chimpmunks.


And one special bonus album that I have to mention. Even though we may all be sick of hearing about the Trans Siberian Orchestra, it’s a fantastic story behind the holiday music. These guys used to be a heavy metal band called Savatage. They released a record called Dead Winter Dead that included the track “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24”. Somehow the track ended up getting airplay on a handful of Contemporary Adult radio stations and middle aged folks started coming into record stores buying Dead Winter Dead. They were of course surprised to find nine other heavy metal tracks instead of classically infused rock interpretations of their favorite Holiday classics. There was a demand for this style of Holiday music and the Trans Siberian Orchestra was born. What do you think of this list? What Holiday albums are on your playlist this year? Join the conversation in the comment section below. Happy Holidays! Image courtesy: thestarsareout3x

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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

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