Plus One

The 11 best Christmas albums

A top 10 isn't nearly enough for this time of year, so here are the 11 greatest Christmas albums ever made

Mince pies, mulled wine, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Lynx body spray gift sets from your office Secret Santa. The festive season ushers in a myriad of traditions, but none more evergreen than the Christmas album. Every shop, restaurant and pub will be serving a side dish of Bublé with their bubbly, decking the halls in George Michael’s heartbreak, and garnishing their dinners for a ‘Wonderful Christmastime’. But which Christmas album reigns supreme?

As a self-proclaimed Christmas music connoisseur – I listen to it all year round – I’ve done the hard work so that you don’t have to. From alternative rock to jazz classics to pop staples, even the most Ebenezer Scrooge of music lovers will find the perfect festive soundtrack with this list. Ahead of the holidays, we’ve ranked the top 11 Christmas albums.

11. Weezer – Christmas With Weezer

Kicking off our list is a 00s classic from a band in their prime. If your festive season needs a coming-of-age 80s indie movie-esque soundtrack, Weezer’s 2008 EP, Christmas With Weezer, is a six-track masterpiece. Fill your stocking with Rivers Cuomo’s brash, unpolished but always rock ’n’ roll vocals, and an unconventional approach to traditional Christmas hymns. Not many bands can turn ‘Silent Night’ into a rock ballad worthy of the Woodstock ’69 stages, but Weezer is just that powerful. Perfect for when your family wants you to play classic songs at the Christmas party, but you still want to hold on to the youthful angst that underscores power pop.

10. Justin Bieber – Under The Mistletoe

Cast your mind back to the age of Bieber fever – the coolest kids in your year-group were wearing Supra hightops, Glee was still on TV (with a dedicated Bieber episode), and an unassuming Canadian teenager garnered cosigns from music industry titans such as Boyz II Men, Usher, Busta Rhymes, and the queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey. All of whom are features on Bieber’s 2011 Christmas album, Under The Mistletoe, an amalgamation of Bieber in all his areas of expertise; radio friendly R&B-pop on ‘Mistletoe’, contemporary covers of the classics like ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, and even a small flex of Bieber’s rap sensibilities on ‘Drummer Boy’. It has all the saccharine festive cheer of a glass of eggnog next to a chaotically decorated Christmas tree, and that’s exactly why it works so well.

9. Ariana Grande – Christmas & Chill

For the people whose Naughty List activities don’t even stop for Christmas, Ariana Grande’s sensual R&B EP, Christmas & Chill, is for you. From the dark twinkle of the EP’s ‘Intro’ into the invitation of romance with the first line on ‘Wit It This Christmas’ – “Come and kiss me, baby/ We don’t need no mistletoe” – Miss Grande unabashedly invites listeners to snuggle up tightly to her Christmas gift. The EP even features a “naughty version” of the pop powerhouse’s signature holiday hit ‘Santa Tell Me’; the 2015 answer to Wham!’s 1986 call on ‘Last Christmas’.

8. Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

We couldn’t possibly make a list of Christmas albums without the undisputed queen of the festive season. Her “it’s tiiime” meme ushers in the holidays every year, to the point that social media users across all platforms call it #MariahSZN. While some may argue that the album should rank higher on this list – after all, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ has it’s own animation when you search for the song on Google. It’s also the No.1 song on the current Billboard Global 200 chart, and has been the highest charting Christmas song across airplay, sales and all streaming platforms for the last four years. Well, she may not rank No.1 on this list but she technically appears on the list twice, once for her own record-breaking holiday album, and on Justin Bieber’s Christmas album – for their duet version of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. Everyone else only has one entry.

7. Victoria Monét – A Jaguar Christmas

A beautifully delicate balance of orchestral arrangements of classic holiday songs blended into instrumental versions of hits from her 2020 album, Jaguar, Victoria Monét’s A Jaguar Christmas comes in at No.7. You truly haven’t lived until you’ve heard her sensual ballad ‘Moment’ complete with an interpolation of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy’ played staccato on violins as the song’s introduction. While it may be a more recent project, A Jaguar Christmas turns contemporary songs into reimagined classics with the acute production of Monét’s regular collaborator D’Mile.

6. ZE Records – A Christmas Record

Created in 1978 by Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban, ZE records was an independent New York label and home to various French new wave, punk, and alternative bands – including The Waitresses, whose ‘Christmas Wrapping’ is a Christmas anthem for those who are little more Daria, or Rob from High Fidelity, than one of Father Christmas’ elves. It’s also The Waitresses’ highest charting song in the UK. Aside from ‘Christmas Wrapping’, ZE Records’ Christmas compilation album, A Christmas Record, features a shoegazey new wave cover of ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Lio, Helena Noguerra and Marie France; the ska indie-rock fusion original ‘Christmas Fever’ by Charlelie Couture; and many more oddball selections to match any mood. Long live French new wave, long live ZE Records.

5. Así Canta Jerez – Así Canta Jerez En Navidad, Vol. 1

A flamenco Christmas? Yes, please. Así Canta Jerez En Navidad, Vol. 1 is a deliciously rich compilation of traditional flamenco songs filled with crisp vocal performances, raw percussion in the form of claps and stomps, and a skilfully strummed Spanish guitar. Closing track ‘Fin De Fiesta’ – “end of the party” – is a celebration all on its own, with a whopping 10-minute runtime and a jovial chorus of voices inviting you to release your inhibitions and dance throughout the festive season.

4. Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas

For Christmas traditionalists, who better to score your festive season than the one and only Ella Fitzgerald? Whether you know her already as the Queen of Jazz and the First Lady of Song, or you’ve been meaning to take your first dip into her expansive catalogue, this album is for you. From jolly classics ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’, so smooth chestnut-roasting slow jams ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’, Ella’s buttery soft vocals deliver that cosy Christmas magic we all know and love.

3. Tyler, The Creator – Music Inspired By Illumination & Dr Seuss’ The Grinch

Bringing in our top three, it’s hip hop maverick Tyler, The Creator with his 2018 Christmas EP Music Inspired By Illumination & Dr Seuss’ The Grinch. As you might guess, the six-track EP features Tyler-produced holiday songs inspired by the 2018 film The Grinch, the soundtrack of which the rapper-producer features on prominently as well. The EP sounds like it takes place in a reimagined Whoville – a Tyler, The Creator Whoville – with smatterings of new wave, pop and alternative hip hop, and features from Santigold, Ryan Beatty and Jerry Paper. I am personally campaigning for ‘Hot Chocolate’ (a song where Tyler describes how he likes his hot chocolate to be made) to be a staple in every household every festive season.

2. Miriam Makeba – Christmas Holidays With Miriam Makeba

The Southern Hemisphere deserves Christmas classics too, and who better than South African activist and jazz powerhouse, Miriam Makeba. For the lucky people who aren’t wrapped in three blankets and shivering next to the radiator, Christmas Holidays With Miriam Makeba features beautiful original recordings of Makeba’s early catalogue, including ‘Table Mountain’, ‘Back Of The Moon’, ‘Teya Teya’ and many more. Allow the warmth of her vocal performances and the blend of Afropop, jazz and Marabi to soundtrack any and all celebrations, festive or otherwise.

1. Destiny’s Child – 8 Days Of Christmas (Deluxe Version)

“On the first day of Christmas, my baby gave to me: quality T-I-M-E” – is honestly the primary reason Destiny’s Child’s 2001 Christmas album takes the top spot. Shakespeare himself couldn’t create such a perfect line. Featuring the DC3 line-up, 8 Days Of Christmas (Deluxe Version), is a fault-free holiday album, with solos for each of the girl’s to show off their impressive soulful vocals, a noughties R&B cover of ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ – which has a claymation music video – a classic Destiny’s Child three-part harmony rendition of ‘Carol Of The Bells’ and, of course, the title track ‘8 Days Of Christmas’. Some of the gifts the romantic interest in ‘8 Days Of Christmas’ give to the girls include the keys to a CLK Mercedes, a diamond belly ring and a handwritten poem. If that doesn’t feel like Christmas, I don’t know what does.