Favorite Holiday Albums

As promised last week, I compiled a little list of Christmas/holiday music albums. Because sometimes, Christmas radio isn’t quite what you want, ya know? Especially if you want to listen to one voice. Although you know what:

Now That's What I Call Christmas!

My family has “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” and it’s really good. A lot of my favorites, if you want a kind of one-stop shop for the songs I mentioned last week. So there is that.

But right, one artist.
For Christmas 2012, my brother told me he got me a Christmas album of my favorite Christmas singer. I exclaimed “Bing Crosby?!” Nope.

Christmas Songs By Sinatra

Oops. I do love Frank Sinatra, and his Christmas albums are great. This is the one that I have. Or had, until my mom snatched it and kept it for herself. (I no longer have the physical copy but I was able to put the songs on my computer first.) Mmmm, Frank Sinatra’s buttery jazzy voice is pretty great for the holidays, and really any of his Christmas albums will be great. (All of his music is pretty great, let’s be real.)

Last year, my brother remembered my little faux pas and got me this Bing Crosby album!

Christmas Classics

I’ll admit, this album cover is a little big scary to see when I’m not 100% awake. Of course, his classic “White Christmas” is always good to have as well. Bing Crosby is kind of THE voice of Christmas, isn’t he? It’s not quite Christmas without his voice cradling you in a warm holiday mood.  (Thanks again to my little brother for getting me these two albums!)

You see, when I curate my holiday music, I look for specific artists who I know have great Christmas albums. INCLUDING but not limited to:

(All images from / links to Amazon)

And….. I think that’s about right. Most orchestras have a great Nutcracker album that I would definitely recommend having on hand for the holiday season. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but these are the albums and artists that I’m most familiar with. I am not quite at that pro level just yet, but I’m getting to the point where I can mostly identify the artists without looking when I’m listening to my Pandora Christmas station or when I’m driving in the car. (Despite my tendency to hop around stations when I drive, during the holiday season, I don’t even THINK about touching the dial on the radio because it is permanently set to my local holiday music station.) (Let me know if you listen to Delilah during the holiday season!)

Did I get your favorite albums?
What are your favorite Christmas/holiday albums?
And which newer ones should I be listening to? 
I am very biased, obviously, against the more current artists’ holiday albums.

IT’S HOLIDAY MUSIC TIME

YES. Time to play holiday music WITHOUT fear of judgement or hatorade from grinches all around. I won’t say this video describes me, but I also won’t say that it does not.

Here we go, the Spotify playlists from the song lists I provided last year, slightly modified. Essentially, I chose the versions of songs that are/came closest to what I hear in my head when I think of these songs. That means either the classic version (often a popularized one) or one that is stripped down to the essentials. (I get a bit annoyed when artists take too many liberties with their vocal add-ons to these songs. Not a fan of super jazzed up holiday songs.) I also tried to keep some variety with the performing artists in these playlists.

ALSO, I will admit this now: I prefer a rich baritone voice for my holiday songs. I know that most of my choices are men and not women, but I think that’s because yes, I grew up listening to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra singing these songs so that’s how I have internalized them.

I had a hard time with many of these. Sometimes, I just couldn’t find THE perfect version. (Spotify also doesn’t have everything. Where’s the Bing Crosby+Davie Bowie doozy, Spotify?!) Maybe next year, I’ll make sure to have all the mp3s I want and put up an 8tracks list, as requested. Next week, I’ll recommend some of my favorite Christmas albums if you would prefer the homogenized listening experience of one artist. (I own a few of them, so I definitely understand if you want to wrap yourself up and listen to one voice serenade you.)

I also made several concessions to my cousin, with whom I share a love of holiday music (you should see us racing to name the artists’ rendition on the radio) but who loves Taylor Swift way more than I do so NO TAYLOR SWIFT ON THIS LIST SORRY CUZ.

Anyway, here’s the Spotify playlists:

“Snow & Bells”

Happy, cheerful holiday music that makes you smile and want to sing along to, these songs have a  bright tone that evokes the image of falling snow and jingling bells, going ice skating and sleigh rides. Includes most classic carols.

“Fireplaces & Cocoa”

Feel that? That’s these songs tugging at your heartstrings, making you tear up. But it feels like sipping a mug of hot cocoa while sitting in front of a fireplace while wrapped in a cozy blanket.

“Wordless Wonderland”

Wintry, holiday pieces that are a little tricky to sing along to, due to there being no lyrics, but somehow I still manage. These are good if you can’t help singing along but it is not convenient to do so, e.g. at work, etc. (Mostly Nutcracker, not gonna lie.)

“First Christmas”

These are the more religious songs. While I am not personally a Christian, I appreciate these songs that celebrate what the first Christmas was originally about. It wouldn’t quite be Christmas without these songs.

“Christmas is for Children”

This is a collection of songs that are really more geared for kids. I have a lot of fond memories singing these songs with my middle school choir for roaring audiences of elementary school kids. I didn’t want them in that first playlist because they’re a little TOO chipper.

Songs that I have purposefully excluded are:

  • “Feliz Navidad” – Got cut this year because the song is really repetitive and gets old after you hear the verse 3 times. Which is fewer times than you hear it in one playing of the song. Sorry!
  • “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” – Still doesn’t do it or me
  • “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – Ugh.
  • “Grown-Up Christmas List” – SUPER UGH.
  • “Christmas Shoes” – As someone who enjoys crying to holiday music, this one makes me angry. UGH TO THE MAX.
  • “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” – Annoying.
  • “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” – Also annoying.
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – I actually kind of like this but it’s pretty condescending towards Africa as a continent and the new Bandaid30 version is not really any better.

But hey, “Santa Baby” got promoted so there ya go. “Seven Feet of Snow” should be on my list but Spotify doesn’t have it so. 😦


Lemme have it, what did I miss? What did I get totally wrong? (If you’re my cousin, you’re not allowed to tell me Taylor Swift.)

Holiday Music Curating

I was pretty disappointed with my holiday music post this year. It left out a few songs I like, but more importantly, I wasn’t able to provide playable playlists because I was having a lot of trouble deciding on the right version to use.

My cousin gave me a hard time about this, so I decided I was going to be hardcore and make a spreadsheet.

We generally agree on which version is the best, but not always. (He is a way bigger fan of Taylor Swift than I am, for example.)

With this, I hope that next year’s list will be way better, and I’ll definitely have playable playlists available then, too.

Holiday Music Addict

I love holiday music.
I love it so much that I sometimes play it in the middle of the summer.
I wish I could play it year-round, but I get scolded if I play it between January 2 and Thanksgiving.

So, between January 2 and Thanksgiving, I wait patiently. (Er, kind of. “Patiently”.)

On Thanksgiving day, I listen to nothing but holiday music and I do not listen to any other kind of music until January 2. I take all my other music off my iPod. I never change the radio station off my holiday music station in the car. I only play the holiday music station on Pandora. I kind of go into withdrawal if I don’t hear it. I will walk out of a store that plays anything else.

All holiday music. All the time.

Image courtesy of TheInspiredClassroom.com

The artists that I would never dare to skip over while listening to Christmas music, because they always sing wonderful versions of my favorites, are (in no order):

  • Bing Crosby
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Burl Ives
  • Nat King Cole
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • *Celine Dion
  • *Michael Bublé
  • *Josh Groban
  • †Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  • †Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • †Mannheim Steamroller

*Newer versions done right.
†Not vocal artists

I recommend getting any of their Christmas albums, they’re great.

I have compiled 5 playlists of my favorite holiday music (in no particular order) to share with you all. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means. NEXT YEAR, I will be choosing the versions of songs that I hear in my head when I think of the song, but multiple people do covers of these great classics and almost all versions are terrific, but I don’t think I’ll be able to have this done in time for Christmas if I do that this year. The songs don’t fall neatly into these categories, unfortunately, but I did my best. I often listen to all these songs in a big mess of feelings, but feel free to listen to them separately. 🙂

  1. Snow & Bells” – Happy, cheerful holiday music that makes you smile and want to sing along to, these songs have a  bright tone that evokes the image of falling snow and jingling bells, going ice skating and sleigh rides. Includes most classic carols.
  2. Fireplaces & Cocoa” – Feel that? That’s these songs tugging at your heartstrings, making you tear up. But it feels like sipping a mug of hot cocoa while sitting in front of a fireplace while wrapped in a cozy blanket.
  3. Wordless Wonderland” – Wintry, holiday pieces that are a little tricky to sing along to, due to there being no lyrics, but somehow I still manage. These are good if you can’t help singing along but it is not convenient to do so, e.g. at work, etc.
  4. First Christmas” – These are the more religious songs. While I am not personally a Christian, I appreciate these songs that celebrate what the first Christmas was originally about. It wouldn’t quite be Christmas without these songs.
  5. Christmas is for Children” – This is a collection of songs that are really more geared for kids. I have a lot of fond memories singing these songs with my middle school choir for roaring audiences of elementary school kids. I didn’t want them in playlist #1 because they’re a little TOO chipper. I like them but not the way I like playlist #1, if that makes any sense.

These are NOT complete, but if I don’t publish today, I will NEVER EVER get this out.

SO without further ado, please enjoy.

Snow & BellsSnow & Bells

  1. “Last Christmas”
  2. “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”
  3. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”
  4. “All I Want for Christmas is You”
  5. “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
  6. “Home for the Holidays”
  7. “It’s the Most Wonderful  Time of the Year”
  8. “Little Saint Nick”
  9. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
  10. “Jingle Bell Rock”
  11. “Let It Snow!”
  12. “Happy Holidays”
  13. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
  14. “We Need a Little Christmas”
  15. “Christmas”
  16. “Feliz Navidad”
  17. “Jingle Bells”
  18. “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  19. “Sleigh Ride”
  20. “Carol of the Bells”
  21. “Twelve Days of Christmas”
  22. “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  23. “Wonderful Christmastime”
  24. “Deck the Halls”
  25. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

Fireplaces & CocoaFireplaces & Cocoa

  1. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
  2. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
  3. “The Christmas Song”
  4. “White Christmas”
  5. “Blue Christmas”
  6. “Silver Bells”
  7. “O Christmas Tree”
  8. “Please Come Home for Christmas”
  9. “Christmastime is Here”
  10. “Good King Wenceslas”

Wordless WonderlandWordless Wonderland

  1. “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”
  2. “Dance of the Toy Trumpets”
  3. “Waltz of the Flowers”
  4. “Waltz of the Snowflakes”
  5. “Pas de Deux (from The Nutcracker)
  6. “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo”
  7. “A Mad Russian’s Christmas”
  8. “Wizards in Winter”
  9. “Carol of the Bells”
  10. “Home Alone Theme” (teehee)

First ChristmasFirst Christmas

  1. “The First Noël”
  2. “O Holy Night”
  3. “Silent Night”
  4. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
  5. “Angels We Have Heard On High”
  6. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
  7. “Joy to the World”
  8. “Away in a Manger”
  9. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
  10. “Little Drummer Boy”
  11. “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
  12. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
  13. “We Three Kings”
  14. “Ding Dong Merrily on High”

Christmas is for ChildrenChristmas is for Children

  1. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
  2. “Frosty the Snowman”
  3. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
  4. “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”
  5. “7 Feet of Snow”
  6. “Here Comes Santa Claus”
  7. “Christmas Don’t Be Late (Chipmunk Song)”

Some songs I don’t like. It’s nuts to think about, but I just don’t like listening to them. They’re too cheesy, or too sad, or just ugh. I have purposely excluded them:

  • “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” (sorry, John, it just doesn’t quite do it for me)
  • “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (groan)
  • “Grown-Up Christmas List” (ugh)
  • “Christmas Shoes” (nooooooo)
  • “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” (I just learned that this is a song and nope)
  • “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” (same deal as above)
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (the line “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas” ruins the entire song for me)
  • “Santa Baby” (I like this one but I don’t know where to put it so….. sorry Eartha)

TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY SONGS 😀

Holiday Movies

I love holiday movies. They warm you up from the inside out, like a mug of hot chocolate. It’s like they plant a little smile in your heart, and that little smile grows and blooms as the movie goes on.

It is some truly feel-good shtuff.

At this time, I’d love to share with you all some of my favorite holiday-themed movies that I have watched. I know I’m missing some classics, but I haven’t seen them yet, I’m sorry! Maybe I’ll get to watch them this year.

Love Actually (2003)

Love ActuallyI actually just watched this for the first time a few weeks ago and I instantly loved it. I will admit that I have seen the other holiday-themed ensemble romantic comedies, and they simply were not as good. Maybe it’s because they’re named after their holiday? (Looking at you, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve.) Maybe it’s because they weren’t British films, but I loved the humor, the storylines, the execution. Maybe it’s because it’s Christmas, my favorite holiday, and it just filled me with some holiday cheer.

I especially loved things like Hugh Grant playing the Prime Minister and Martin Freeman playing a sex scene body double.

(Love Actually is on Netflix right now if you have a subscription :D)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

File:Home Alone 2.jpgFirst of all, the Home Alone movies are pretty great. There’s a reason that MacCaulay Culkin was the highest-paid child actor at the peak of his fame. They were terrific, and I loved loved loved the second one because we got to also experience the magic of Manhattan during the holidays. It is one of the absolute best times to be in the city because it truly feels magical, and I think that this movie captures it pretty well. Plus, Kevin McCallister is not just defending himself but trying to help others in this movie.

The spirit of Christmas is strong in this movie, for sure. Who can forget that theme song?

Jingle All the Way (1996)

https://i0.wp.com/posterpress.us/uploads/j/jingle-all-the-way-2010.jpgThis is not a popular pick, and I don’t know how many people have actually seen it, but I’ve seen a LOT of Schwarzenegger films in my day (don’t ask why) (I have no idea) and this is maybe my favorite one. You’ve got Ahnold and Sinbad fighting to buy this mega-popular toy that has been selling out nationwide so that they can redeem themselves as fathers while also satirizing the crazy commercialization of the holidays. It’s one of Arnold’s family comedies and it’s pretty good for that. It’s just a light and fun movie. I wouldn’t call it a must-see, but it’s fun to watch.

(This is also on Netflix right now!)

The Polar Express (2004)

File:Polar express.jpgI fondly remember reading this book as a kid, although I remember being very surprised with the movie because the book is calm and idyllic and doesn’t have a catchy musical number about hot chocolate. But it’s a really nice film with a great message about believing in Santa and Christmas. You have some adventure, a Tom Hanks-voiced train conductor, and some pretty good CGI at times. (Although the scary-looking children can make you forget that. :P) Definitely recommend if you liked the book, even though, like many adaptations of children’s books, they take a lot of liberty with the story.

“Here we only got one rule, NEVER EVER let it cool!” (Guys, this song is persistently in my head every December.)

(This is also on Netflix right now!)

The Santa Clause (1994)

https://i1.wp.com/media1.swank.com/Assets/0000012007/OneSheet/en/0013226photo.jpg

I’m not as big a fan of the sequels, but I always like watching The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen as the reluctant new Santa.You’ve got Christmas magic, Santa magic, elf magic, laughs, feels, it’s good stuff and you should watch it if you haven’t already!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (1998)

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/12/Poster_of_the_movie_Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer.jpgI own this movie on VHS and I kind of love it. It’s not as popular as the other Rudolph movie, but this one is an animated musical. YES. Whoopi Goldberg voices the villain Stormella, and her musical number is, as many villain songs are, great. Watch it if you find it!

Honorable Mentions

    • Elf (2003)
      Elf
    • Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 animated TV special)
    • Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
      https://i1.wp.com/dadlovesmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/mickeyschristmascarol.jpg
    • White Christmas (1954)
      https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2a/White_Chrismas_film.JPG

Now don’t get mad. I know I’m missing classics that… I haven’t seen (!!!) (I know I know).

To see:

  • A Christmas Story (1983)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Miracle a 34th Street (1947)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) (aka The Island of Misfit Toys)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – I’m still unclear as to if this is a Halloween or Christmas movie but it looks a little too scary for me…

Wikipedia has an interesting list of Christmas “classics”. Not sure how a movie like Deck the Halls (2006) is a “contemporary classic”. (Not sure why I watched it, either…)

What are your favorite holiday movies?
Which ones did I miss that I absolutely MUST watch?

Stay tuned for my holiday playlist! I’m super excited to share that because I count down  from January 3rd to the moment I can play Christmas music without getting hatorade. I am ready. I am so ready.