Monday, November 29, 2010

5 Best Christmas Albums

The time has come.

The time for non-stop Christmas music and movies.

I've been trying - successfully - to hold myself back from dabbling in the Christmas spirit until Thanksgiving had it's rightful day to shine, and now that day is over, my friends. O.V.E.R.

Onward to the snow-covered, jingle-belled climes of Yuletide, I say.

And so I celebrate the official beginning of Christmas season (by my own pronouncement, which is official enough for me), with a countdown of my favorite holiday albums of all, well, in my short life anyway.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas
The classic TV special has a great soundtrack that offers, not so much sing-along entertainment, but rather nice background music to your decorating, cookie baking, or gift wrapping lazy December Saturdays. I sometimes put this on when I'm making those stupid cut-out know the ones I mean...the delicious sugary, buttery, frosted confections that are great to eat but a real pain in the behind to make. The time goes a bit more quickly and cheerfully once I find myself dancing to Linus's piano jams whilst rolling out yet another round of dough.

4. Dave Barnes - Very Merry Christmas
In real life I'm a big fan of Dave Barnes, and was oh, so pleasantly surprised to see he had a new Christmas album out when I was shopping in the CD store for my favorite sister's St. Nick present (hint, hint).

File this under, "How did I not know this?!?!" and "Tart-y to the Party"

Regardless of how long it took me to discover the wonders of this album, I appreciate its perfect blend of traditional favorites like the Bing Crosby classic (you know how I love Bing) "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with new favorites like "Very Merry Christmas," "I Pray on Christmas," and "Family Tree." Barnes does it up right with just the right amount of soul, pop, and jazzy pep.

3. Amy Grant - A Christmas Album
You may disagree with me on this one, but A Christmas Album is my favorite Amy Grant Christmas album. It's my favorite, not only because I fondly remember my mom playing it nonstop during holiday baking and decorating, but also because of the classic early 90's styling of the cover art. I'm sorry Amy, but I always thought you were so much older than you really were because of this picture alone. The 80's holdover hair? The mom jeans? The overdone dark eye makeup? It's one of my favorite memories of Christmas.

Again, I'm sorry Amy. I really do love your music!

2. Barlow Girl - Home for Christmas
I. Flippin. Love. This. Album.

I can't say it enough. I dig Barlow Girl on any given day, but when Christmas rolls around, this album is usually on my nonstop driving playlist - at least since it debuted in 2008. I have to be careful to only play it when I'm driving after dusk because I'm so busy singing along that I can hide how stupid I look under the cover of winter's early sunset darkness.

I also have to be careful to not listen to it when I'm running because sometimes I forget that I'm public...and that I shouldn't sing along out loud.

1. Ultimate White Christmas
No list of Christmas albums would be complete without Bing. Oh, Bing.

I think I was born in the wrong decade, because add in Jimmy Stewart and you've got my two favorite Hollywood actors.

Personally, my Christmas season does not officially start until I watch White Christmas.

God help the studio that tries to remake this classic, because I will not be held responsible for my actions.

The movie's soundtrack can be found in a variety of releases, but this one is my favorite for two reasons.

1. It includes my namesake musical number (or so I tell myself), Mandy, and
2. It's the closest you'll come to a soundtrack for the movie (Clooney and Crosby were contracted to two different labels, and so an official soundtrack was never, contractually, possible).

The songs by Rosemary Clooney were recorded separately under her label, and so this is more of a compilation...thus making the tracks sound a bit muffled at times due to differences in mastering and production.

Blame the studios.

I do.

Until some sort of digital remastering magic happens, this is the best album to give you your White Christmas favorites.

Of course, you can always set your tape player up close to your TV and hit "record" while you watch the movie. Anyone remember doing that when making mix tapes from the radio's Top 40?

Are your favorites missing from the list? Continue the list of Best Christmas albums by leaving a comment!


Dray said...

Ms. 25,
I may be asking to be chastized by posting this for public view, but my holidays are not complete without two CDs, Mariah Carey "Merry Christmas" and NKOTB "Very Merry Xmas" or something of that nature. Mariah looks like a saucy little minx in her Ms. Claus cover art and there is no way to dance around the kitchen, elbow deep in cookie dough, without Ms. Mariah!
As for NKOTB, these boys made my adolescence oh so much brighter with such jam-tastic originals as, "Funky, Funky Xmas" and "Last Night I saw Santa Claus." My brother, who was 8-years-old at the release of this holly, jolly classsic, was deeply scarred (so he likes to say) and at 28, still has a rather Pavlovian need to sing upon hearing the first few bars of "This Ones for the Children."
So thank you for sharing your list. I shall check out your recommendations and do suggest you visit or re-visit the NKOTB. I mean, how can you not get into the holiday spirit with such classic lyrics as "Slipping and sliding on Xmas Eve/I saw a sight I couldn't believe/ St. Nick, by the fireplace/Dusting of his booty with a frown on his face...". I could go on, but that would spoil it for you! Happy Holidays!

Ms. Quarter said...


How did I not know NKOTB had a Christmas album?!

Dray, you have just enlightened me.

And my 8-year-old self always considered herself such a Donny fan. She should've told Adult Ms.Q about these lyrical wonders.

I'm only slightly ashamed to admit to being highly intrigued by NKOTB singing about Santa's booty. Seems a bit awkward and awesome at the same time - my favorite combination!

Sam Dodge said...

I have two artists I go to for Christmas music:

1. Chris Isaak - something about his album is just really good, love having it on repeat.

2. Sufjan Stevens - Has I think 8 Christmas EPs that are great. A lot of re-imaginings of traditional songs and a lot of new fun songs. Such great stuff. Folksy and homey and warm and just perfect.

Ms. Quarter said...

Oooh, good choices Sam! Chris Isaak's music, in general, is a good go-to for repeat.

I haven't heard Sufjan Stevens, but will definitely check him out. That's my ulterior motive with this particular blog post - expand my music collection...

Thank you for the suggestions!

Ms. Quarter said...

Thank you to all my Twitter pals who offered up the following Christmas music favorites:

The Temptations (their version of Silent Night is a must listen)

The Nutcracker

Perry Como & Nat King Cole