Please recommend your favorite Christmas song/CD/group/band/singer
November 29, 2021 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Time to upgrade my Christmas music collection. Please recommend your favorite CD (album) or song or band or singer or group. Any genre is welcome.

For me nothing beats Carpenter's Christmas album
Charlie Brown Christmas Album.
posted by luvmywife to Media & Arts (70 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Joni Mitchell, River

Waitress’s, Christmas Wrapping
posted by at at 12:07 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Children, Go Where I Send You, Nina Simone.
posted by Frowner at 12:08 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Not so easy to find but The Spirit of Christmas album by Ray Charles is great.
posted by slkinsey at 12:10 PM on November 29, 2021

The Chieftains - The Bells of Dublin
posted by Redstart at 12:11 PM on November 29, 2021 [8 favorites]

The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album
posted by niicholas at 12:12 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sia's Christmas album is fun (except for the puppies are forever song which is terrible)
posted by euphoria066 at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2021

Best answer: Ben Caplan's version of O Holy Night

(can purchase/download here)
posted by bowmaniac at 12:22 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

MeFi introduced me to "Christmas With the Believers" over a decade ago, and I listen to it dozens and dozens of times every year.

(I emailed the musician, Donny Schwekendiek, on FaceBook last week to tell him how much I love the album, and he replied: what a charming guy!)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:23 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

One of the weirdest but most interesting additions to our family library is a compilation of really old folk, ragtime and jazz tunes called "Where will you be Christmas day?"

It's got some real weird stuff, but also tracks from like Lead Belly and other recognizable names. Definitely one to select a few from but it'll certainly add some spice to the playlist!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:24 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Mariah Carey - Merry Christmas, the only new Christmas standard in decades
Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas, an album from 1960 that still contains some of the canonical versions of these songs
Norah Jones - I Dream of Christmas, mostly jazz-pop, released this year
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, the Wall of Sound Christmas album
A Motown Christmas, the Motown Christmas album
Christmas in Soulsville, the Stax Christmas album
Soul Christmas, the Atlantic Christmas album
The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album, a little palate cleanser
posted by box at 12:31 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

John McCutcheon, Christmas in the Trenches. I weep every time I hear this song. As a commenter observed, "Oh when will we ever learn?"
posted by key_of_z at 12:38 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Barenaked for the Holidays by BNL, A Legendary Christmas by John Legend, and I really enjoy all of Pentatonix's Christmas albums.
posted by kimberussell at 12:47 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Calexico’s Seasonal Shift record

Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun, with the caveat that you should maybe give it a pass if you miss your dad.

Christmas in LA by Vulfpeck

Sweet Christmas by Shonen Knife
posted by corey flood at 1:02 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Twelve Days of Christmas by The Muppets. Miss Piggy adds the "ba-rump-bump" that has long been needed by this classic.
posted by SPrintF at 1:05 PM on November 29, 2021

Best answer: Greg Miner's Christmas Collection, originally two LPs but I think you can get a consolidated CD, maybe at his web site. He plays many different string instruments; each song featuring a different one. A sample: Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella.

The Ray Conniff Singers released at least two Christmas LPs but I favor the second one, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Plus the Vince Guaraldi, as mentioned by the OP.
posted by Rash at 1:08 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Metafilter Holidaytime playlist features an incredible Christmas Rhapsody and many other great numbers.

Somehow not in the playlist, but absolutely required listening: Jingle Rock Bell
posted by mpark at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

My favorite Christmas song of all time is the MIDI-ified version of All I Want for Christmas is You. Listen once to go insane permanently.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:29 PM on November 29, 2021

Christmas Jug Band - Santa Lost a Ho

Robert Earl Keen - Merry Christmas from the Family

AC/DC Mistress for Christmas

Pledge Drive - Christmas Rhapsody I actually like this better than Bohemian Rhapsody. By a lot.

Game Theory - A Child's Christmas Saving the Whales This is an 8 minute long story song mp3 with a fake The Police (Sting) song in the middle with some very silly '80s inspired fake liberal charity names (Unhand the Whales, The Reggae Dance for Disarmament, Fur Fashion Fantasy, The League of Superior Women, Up with Trees, The Bombs are Bad Coalition, US Out of Middle America) and a very trite Christmas message.

Antsy McClain - Mary Lou's Christmas List

Zumpano - Mods of Christmastown

Pissed off:
Beat Happening - Christmas
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:35 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A Merry Mancini Christmas for drinking strong cocktails in the basement of your 1950s rancher
posted by credulous at 1:43 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Croon & Swoon Classic Christmas.
Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby is the BEST
posted by scorpia22 at 1:49 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Nat King Cole
posted by calgirl at 1:55 PM on November 29, 2021

Marcus Roberts
Prayer for Peace

Solo piano, mellow versions of xmas music. Such an oasis...
posted by grateful at 2:06 PM on November 29, 2021

Sy Mann's Switched on Santa is a delightful addition to any holiday music collection.

In the Christmas Spirit by Booker T. & the MG's is a must-have. I once said "I was going to say that's my favorite Christmas album but I think that's everyone's" (regardless of how true that is). Also, 100%, The Ventures' Christmas Album.

As much as Phil Spector is ... Phil Spector ... A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector is pretty essential. I also really like Johnny Cash's A Christmas Spirit.

It's only a single, but Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band's Xmas at K-Mart is a good one (it's more weird and less mean than you think it's going to be).

I will be watching this thread because I need more Christmas music in my life. I'm not sure why or how this became a thing -- I'm not religious or anything -- but I really like holiday/Christmas music.
posted by edencosmic at 2:27 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: It's a Holiday Soul Party
posted by cyclopticgaze at 2:51 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

I mention this one on every Christmas music thread: Relient K's Let It Snow, Baby...Let It Reindeer.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:01 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Muppets Twelve Days of Christmas, mentioned above, is on the delightful John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album.

Also, A Music Box Christmas.

There's also a Jingle Cats album, but I can't tolerate more than a few minutes. I think there's a dog version too.
posted by FencingGal at 3:15 PM on November 29, 2021

Hey! Merry Christmas by the Mavericks. Christmas Time (Is Coming 'Round Again)
A Classic Cartoon Christmas
Croon and Swoon: A Classic Christmas
Verve Remixed Christmas
Noel, Christmas Eve, 1913 by John Denver. (Seriously, this song is achingly beautiful).
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:25 PM on November 29, 2021

Don't Waste Your Wishes - The Killers
posted by panther of the pyrenees at 3:43 PM on November 29, 2021

I don't think this one's been mentioned yet but it's on repeat for me every year
Sufjan Stevens
posted by ljesse at 3:44 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hello would you like a delightful Swedish group singing whimsically about the holidays? Then Children's Day Care Choir is for you. (Contains no actual children)
posted by emjaybee at 3:48 PM on November 29, 2021

George Winston - December (beautiful, solo piano)
posted by strasbourg at 3:56 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Windham Hill's "Winter Solstice" series of CDs is beautiful. I was coming in to suggest George Winston's "December" as well.
posted by belladonna at 4:01 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have a whole Christmas Playlist on Spotify! Some highlights.

New this year - Brian Fallon's Night Divine

Also new this year - Amanda Shires For Christmas

A Selection of My Faves
John Legend A Legendary Christmas
Frank Turner's Last Christmas
Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings It's a Holiday Soul Party
Murder By Death - Lonesome Holiday

There is more on my playlist that I haven't shared, but I think I got a lot of it from a similar thread here a while ago, so thank you for this question!
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:26 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

I usually detest Christmas music, but Gordon Au on jazz trumpet makes my heart sing, and his Grand Street Stompers have a great holiday album called Christmas Stomp.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 4:48 PM on November 29, 2021

Here's a post of mine from 2014 with a bunch of good weird Christmas stuff
Three of my personal favorites:
+ A Very Rosie Christmas from Rosie Thomas (joyful, boisterous chamber pop--highlights are Christmastime is Here and Christmas Don't Be Late)
+ The Light Came Down from Josh Garrels (somber, soothing chamber pop--highlights are Gloria and The Boar's Head)
+ The Magic of Christmas from Joy Electric (ecstatic, bubbly synth pop--highlights are Have Yourself a Marry Little Christmas and Winter Wonderland)
posted by sleeping bear at 4:50 PM on November 29, 2021

Lil Nas X Holiday
posted by wowenthusiast at 7:11 PM on November 29, 2021

If the words "christmas," "psychedelic," and "Minnie Riperton" catch your eye, you might enjoy Rotary Connection's Peace from 1968.

You might also appreciate Kmart In-Store Music: Christmas 1974. There's one from 1991 (and lots more).
posted by sportbucket at 8:42 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

A co-worker brought in this album to work many years ago, and I learned to love it.

My family is a big fan of this swing-y album of Winter songs.
posted by theora55 at 9:13 PM on November 29, 2021

44 answers in, and no one has named our personal favorites (aside from Charlie Brown / Vince Guaraldi of course):

Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets

Christmas with the George Shearing Quintet

Jimmy Smith - Christmas Cookin'

Looking forward to checking out the other suggestions. And it's funny how nobody listens to jazz anymore, except at Christmas.
posted by wps98 at 10:06 PM on November 29, 2021

Christmas With The Platters

Mary Dahl, Winter Songs

Marika Hackman, Wonderland (yes it is a Marika Hackman Christmas album)
posted by away for regrooving at 10:27 PM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Diana Krall Christmas Songs
The Roches We Three Kings
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Jingle All the Way
posted by kingless at 3:31 AM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

A good number of the songs suggested have made it onto my Christmas playlist (and truth be told I may add some more), but some I don't see already mentioned are:

"Come And I Will Sing You" from Great Big Sea (this is a traditional Newfoundland carol)
"Christmas Treat" from Julian Casablancas; this is a cover of the song from that goofy and endearing SNL Christmas skit that Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sans, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan did for a handful of years in a row.
"Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas" by The Eels. I actually first heard a more acoustic version, but I kept this one solely because of the spoken lyric within "Baby Jesus, born to rock!"
"Fairytale Of New York" by The Pogues, which I'm frankly astonished hasn't been mentioned yet.

I also have three songs from Sting's album "If On A Winter's Night...." which he takes pains to describe as a winter album rather than a Christmas one, but whatever. He was in his Lute Phase when he did it, but there are still some lovely works, and I find it a good and calming antidote to the super-happy tone most other Christmas songs take that eventually sets your teeth on edge sometimes.

I also have Barbara Streisand's cover of "Jingle Bells" because this was from one of three albums my mother played to absolute death every year when I was little and I have some nostalgia for as a result; but this is still fun because it is SUCH a Barbara Streisand cover. (There's a moment in the song after she sings the second verse, which ends with the phrase "We got into a drifting bank and then we got upsought"; after she sings this, she puzzledly repeats the word "Upsought?" in a very thick "what the hell does that mean" Brooklynese, and when I was little that would make me laugh and laugh.)

I do also have a couple Hannukkah songs in there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 AM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Albums Tracks
posted by fabius at 5:36 AM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Chuck Negron's album Joy to the World (spotify link, I think, maybe) is upbeat. If you're familiar with the voice singing "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog", you'll recognize the voice.
posted by mightshould at 6:01 AM on November 30, 2021

It wasn't Christmas at our house without Johnny Mathis. These days I love Dar Williams' The Christians and the Pagans and the very different Come Darkness, Come Light by Mary Chapin Carpenter.
posted by ceejaytee at 8:06 AM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have just spent an inordinately fun several minutes browsing Spotify after reading all of these to boost up my own collection; I can report that if you simply do a search for the phrase "new orleans christmas" you will get a whole lot of fun stuff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on November 30, 2021

nthing Pentatonix, a favorite in our house.
and Dar's Christian & Pagans is perfect, ceejaytee!
posted by adekllny at 9:48 AM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Lost Christmas Eve, The Christmas Attic

And for the oldie by goodies... Time Life Treasury of Christmas
posted by kathrynm at 10:25 AM on November 30, 2021

It’s Cliched to be Cynical at Christmas By Half Man Half Biscuit
posted by brilliantmistake at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love is just amazing.

There are a gazillion versions of "O Holy Night" but I love The Supremes.

For something more folk/indie: The Christians and the Pagans by Dar Williams is fun, and Sufjan Steven's whole Christmas album is a modern classic.

White Winter Hymnal isn't strictly a Christmas song but it feels like one to me.
posted by lunasol at 1:59 PM on November 30, 2021

Whatever you do, try to avoid WHAMageddon. (The objective is to go as long as possible without hearing WHAM's Christmas classic; "Last Christmas".)
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 2:48 PM on November 30, 2021

I don't know why, but I have to listen to Christmas with Boney M a few times during the season. For some odd reason I thought everyone did. I blame my mother.
posted by patternocker at 6:39 PM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I find myself generally allergic to Christmas songs. Though they may once have brought me hope and cheer, now I just try to get out of the room. But I do like some Christmas music, the moods and melodies, particularly when serving more as ambience. In the spirit of that, here's a mix of mostly instrumental stuff I put together a while back:

Sugar Plum Peaceful - a not entirely awful Christmas mixtape
posted by philip-random at 8:26 AM on December 1, 2021

there's also Robert Fripp's 1979 single:

Silent Night a la Frippertronics
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on December 1, 2021

Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson is slowly creeping up on All I Want for Christmas is You as a modern Christmas classic. I'm not a huge fan of new pop but it's pretty fucking great.

Off the beaten path, I'm pretty fond of Vegetarian Christmas by FEET.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:26 AM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Temptations - Give Love At Christmas album. My family listens to this every year.
posted by Julnyes at 1:50 PM on December 1, 2021

Along the same lines as Verve Remixed Christmas, check out the album Merry Mixmas. My favorite tracks are the Thunderball remixes of The Merriest and The Man With The Bag, and the AwayTeam remix of The Christmas Waltz.
posted by Monochrome at 7:15 PM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dated (1949) but I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas is one of my favorite humorous Christmas songs
posted by TimHare at 10:25 PM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

lunasol: For something more folk/indie: The Christians and the Pagans by Dar Williams is fun

Love it!
Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:09 AM on December 2, 2021

There's so little that is both new and good in Christmas music that sometimes I stop listening. But we drove an hour and a half each way on Tuesday night to hear Pentatonix do a show and it was fantastic.

The sound sucked and the arena was screwed up so it started an hour late, but we didn't care. They had two albums worth of material since lockdown started and they did most of it. (For those who don't know the group, it's five singers who do everything a capella -- though one of them beatboxes, too.)

There was a wild cello-and-kettle-drum piece that introduced one of their songs that made my teen-age son and me trade a glance and a laugh. The tenor, Mitch, ripped out some amazing notes. The encore wasn't as impromptu as they wanted it to look, but they sang without amplification in the dark and everyone (who hadn't left already -- WTF, New Hampshire??) sat still and leaned in to hear.

And they did a version of "Little Drummer Boy," which is one of my very most-hated holiday songs, that turned my head around. So I am back to trying new Christmas music again.:7)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:18 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

My all-time favorite Christmas tune is A Jazz Musician's Christmas; you might recognize the vocalist, Jack Sheldon, from "I'm Just a Bill." (Looks like Youtube has the whole album.)

I got to know the song from an amazing 3-hour Christmas set that Herb Wong would do on KCSM Jazz Radio every year. I posted some playlists on a jazz Christmas AskMe 8 years ago. KCSM has a nice complete playlist up on the site (they say it's 2012, but it doesn't match my notes for 2012 ... but regardless, it's a good representation of what he tended to play).

The Miles Davis / Bob Dorough tune "Blue Xmas" is quite different but also pretty great, as is "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie."

Wishing you the merriest!
posted by kristi at 4:37 PM on December 2, 2021

Metafiilter has you covered
posted by hydra77 at 4:11 PM on December 3, 2021

“This Time of Year”—June Christy, This Time of Year, 1961
posted by ob1quixote at 10:27 AM on December 13, 2021

Here's a post I made a couple years ago.
posted by box at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2021

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