There’s a reason that shopping malls put Christmas songs on repeat while they’re taking down the Halloween decor. There’s nothing like hearing some festive tunes to get you in the holiday spirit. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all Christmas music will put you in a holly jolly state of mind. As with all things in life, there are some hits and some misses… big… big misses.
Everyone has their favorites, but some holiday albums are definitely more popular than others and usually with good reason. While not everyone will agree, we’ve compiled our picks for best and worst holiday albums. You may find a few new favorites. Tread carefully though; you may also be reminded of some tunes you’ll never be able to get out of your head. So, without further ado, here they are our selections.
Phil Spector ‘A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector’ (1963)
The legendary producer hit a home run with this festive collection. With such classics as ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ by Darlene Love, ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ by The Crystals, and ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ by the Ronettes, this album is a must have for anyone looking to get in a nostalgic holiday mood.
The Ventures ‘The Ventures Christmas Album’ (1965)
The album has all the classics presented with a laid-back vibe. This collection by the Ventures is surfer cool, upbeat and completely energizing. You can’t help but feel the fun, joyful holiday energy coming through the music.
She & Him ‘A She & Him Christmas’ (2011)
You can check out Zooey Deschanel’s musical stylings during one of the 500 or so playings of ‘Elf’ over the holiday season. If you want to bypass the goofiness though, ‘A She & Him Christmas’ is the way to go. Deschanel and M. Ward have a retro yet modern take on some Christmas favorites.
A Very Special Christmas (1987)
Kind of like the ‘We Are The World’ of Christmas albums, this collection was put together by Jimmy Iovine as a fundraiser for the 1987 Special Olympics. Featuring such artists as Bruce Springsteen, The Pretenders, U2, Madonna, and John Mellencamp, this album has something for everyone—especially of you’re a child of the 80s.
Barenaked Ladies ‘Barenaked For The Holidays’ (2004)
Very much done in the band’s unique style, if you’re a Barenaked Ladies fan, you’re sure to love this festive offering. The songs on this album are fun, upbeat and sure to put a smile on your face. There are both Christmas and Hanukkah favorites here, as well as some new cuts to get you in the spirit.
Vince Guaraldi Trio ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (1965)
Speaking of nostalgia, who doesn’t love the warm, fuzzy feelings they get when ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ comes on each December? It’s all about the characters, the touching story, and, of course… the music. This album from the Vince Guaraldi Trio has all the original music from the movie and it quickly transports you to childhood and recalls all the anticipation you had for the holidays.
William Hung “Hung For The Holidays’ (2004)
If the title doesn’t deter you (and it should), the music certainly will. On this album William Hung, the infamous ‘American Idol’ hopeful who auditioned with his very unique version of ‘She Bangs’ puts his own twist—not in a good way—on all your favorites so that they become not your favorites anymore.
David Hasselhoff ‘The Night Before Christmas’ (2004)
Everything David Hasselhoff does is pure cheese… and this album is no exception. At least he seems to accept his cheesiness. He even has one song in the collection that’s sung entirely in German as a nod to all his fans in that country.
William Shaner ‘Shatner Claus’ (2018)
Yes, even Captain Kirk has a Christmas album now. If you’re looking for singing though, you’ll probably have to look elsewhere. Shatner basically speaks his way through the album. He does have some guests on the album though, and they do some singing.
Regis Philbin ‘The Regis Philbin Christmas Album’ (2005)
We haven’t seen or heard much from Reg in the years since he retired from morning TV. If you’re dying for a Regis fix then this may be the album for you, but otherwise you’ll probably want to steer clear.
Twisted Sister ‘A Twisted Christmas’ (2006)
We know, it’s hard to imagine. After all ‘Come on Feel the Noise’ and ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ don’t exactly mix, but on this album they kind of do. It’s an interesting blend to say the least.
Best & Worst:
Alvin and the Chipmunks ‘Christmas With the Chipmunks’ (1961)
This album kind of walks the line, depending on your age and tolerance for high pitched voices. There’s something sweet and heartwarming about listening to those little rodents sing their hearts out, but there’s also a limit to how much a person can take. Listen with caution.