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My Favourite Christmas Albums

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without music. All those carols and merry tunes that we grew up with still give the holiday season that extra coating of yuletide joy. I’ve selected five of my favourite Christmas albums with a link to one song from each to give you a taste of what the music sounds like. Happy listening!

ANNIE LENNOX: A CHRISTMAS CORNUCOPIA (2010)

This former Eurythmic was born on Christmas Day in Scotland in 1954 and has always had an affinity for this special time of year. In her liner notes she makes a point to say that she intended the album to be a celebration of all children and the magic they bring to the world, which is why each of the Christmas songs makes reference to baby Jesus. There is also an original composition on the album called Universal Child that unifies this message. Many of the songs are recorded with a children’s choir from South Africa, adding a very modern choral depth to the traditional carols. The songs have a unique mix of English Victorian opulence and pared down simplicity, which is really lovely. Listen here to The First Noel.

SARAH McLACHLAN: WINTERSONG (2006)

An album of traditional Christmas songs mixed with original work, Wintersong is a beautiful, lush album that perfectly showcases Sarah McLachlan’s gorgeous voice. Producer Pierre Marchand blurs the borders with ambient sound effects, distorted guitars, and subtle echoes to create a distilled, crystalline beauty that perfectly captures the essence of winter. While a bit on the melancholy side, the album is no less beautiful, conjuring thoughtful images of Christmases past and hope for Christmases to come. Listen here to Wintersong, one of Sarah’s original compositions on the album.

MARIAH CAREY: MERRY CHRISTMAS (1994)

Mariah Carey’s first Christmas album is a classic that will never go out of style! It’s fun, upbeat, campy and everything you’d expect from this exceptional pop singer. It is actually the only Maria Carey album that I like from start to finish and it has a special place in my heart because of all the times I used to listen to it with friends on the bus ride to school. Whenever All I Want For Christmas Is You came on the radio in the car, I would always ask my parents to crank up the volume. It’s bubblegum Christmas pop of the finest quality!

ELLA FITZGERALD: A SWINGING CHRISTMAS (1960)

Ella brings her legendary jazz vocals to some of the best-loved Christmas carols, reinterpreted and re-orchestrated with a full jazz band to be swingin’ and hoppin’! The album was recorded on a single hot July day in 1960, and that heat is definitely present in Ella’s remarkable voice. The album makes me think of grand ballrooms festooned with silver baubles, white Christmas trees and tuxedoed gentlemen all of whom want to dance with ME while Ella serenades us in some gorgeous, lustrous gown. Listen to Sleigh Ride from the album.

ENYA: CHRISTMAS SECRETS (2006)

Ethereal and icy like the season itself, Enya’s little Christmas EP is one I often listen to late at night during the holiday season. Known for her layered vocals that float over seamless soundscapes of aural bliss, the Irish singer delivers a stunning collection of six simple songs that nicely encapsulate the spirit of the season. Her takes on O Come All Ye Faithful, We Wish You A Merry Christmas along with her own Christmas Secrets and Magic Of The Night will lead you happily into a winter Dreamland.

FIVE-CHRISTMAS-ALBUMS
by Andrew

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Susan Barnett

I don’t want to sound snarky, but I would never describe Ella Fitzgerald’s voice as “bombastic.” Take a look at a dictionary — a couple of the synonyms are “pretentious,” “pompous” and also more theatrical or stagy than the occasion warrants. I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean that. I like most of your suggests for albums, though.

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Andrew Ritchie

Susan, what a great editor you’d make! You are right. I did not mean to use that word! It has since been changed to remarkable. Thanks for catching that! (Apologies to the amazing Ella!)

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