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50 Best (and Worst) Holiday Albums

24/7 Wall St. Logo By Evan Comen of 24/7 Wall St. | Slide 1 of 103: Hearing Christmas music everywhere you turn? That's a sure sign the holiday season is upon us. The best holiday music can immediately put you in the Christmas spirit, evoking warm memories and good cheer. This timeless quality prevents even decades-old first-rate Christmas albums from becoming stale.Christmas songs comprise a large share of the songs played throughout December on music streaming service Spotify in the United States, peaking at more than one in 10 songs played on Christmas Day. According to estimates from Spotify, there are more than 1.3 million Christmas songs.24/7 Wall St. has reviewed a number of measures, including Billboard chart performance, album sales, and critical reception to identify the 25 best holiday albums. The resulting collection of albums shows a great diversity of genres and artists, illustrating that the creation of quality holiday music can be approached in many ways.Many of the highest ranked holiday albums were released decades ago. Christmas music is often nostalgic in tone, which may contribute to the popularity of some older holiday albums. Some 31 of the 50 best albums were released at least 20 years ago, and five of the top 15 were released prior to 1966. Meanwhile, 40 of the 50 worst ranked holiday albums were released after 1990.At the end of every year, Billboard publishes a special weekly chart of the most popular holiday albums. Many of the best holiday albums, released decades ago, resurface every year. Albums such as Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas,” and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” have made the Billboard Holiday albums charts nearly every year since their release, essentially cementing their position in the holiday music canon.Many of the highest ranked holiday albums feature popular artists singing time-honored christmas classics. Traditional renditions of classical songs such as “Silent Night,” “The Christmas Song,” and “O Holy Night” appear on many of the most popular holiday albums, often in a style that preserves the songs’ original compositions.Many of the least successful holiday albums, however, take unique approaches to classic Christmas songs that stray far from their original arrangements. Examples include Claudja Barry’s “Disco ‘Round the Christmas Tree,” which features songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” set to a disco beat. Another example is Yellowman’s “A Very, Very Yellow Christmas,” which features reggae renditions of “12 Days of Christmas” and “Deck the Halls” as well as original holiday-themed tunes like “African Christmas” and “Santa Claus Never Comes to the Ghetto.”

Hearing Christmas music everywhere you turn? That's a sure sign the holiday season is upon us. The best holiday music can immediately put you in the Christmas spirit, evoking warm memories and good cheer. This timeless quality prevents even decades-old first-rate Christmas albums from becoming stale.

Christmas songs comprise a large share of the songs played throughout December on music streaming service Spotify in the United States, peaking at more than one in 10 songs played on Christmas Day. According to estimates from Spotify, there are more than 1.3 million Christmas songs.

24/7 Wall St. has reviewed a number of measures, including Billboard chart performance, album sales, and critical reception to identify the 50 best and the 50 worst holiday albums. The resulting collection of albums shows a great diversity of genres and artists, illustrating that the creation of holiday music can be approached in many ways.

Many of the highest ranked holiday albums were released decades ago. Christmas music is often nostalgic in tone, which may contribute to the popularity of some older holiday albums. Some 31 of the 50 best albums were released at least 20 years ago, and five of the top 15 were released prior to 1966. Meanwhile, 40 of the 50 worst ranked holiday albums were released after 1990.

At the end of every year, Billboard publishes a special weekly chart of the most popular holiday albums. Many of the best holiday albums, released decades ago, resurface every year. Albums such as Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas,” and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” have made the Billboard Holiday albums charts nearly every year since their release, essentially cementing their position in the holiday music canon.

Many of the highest ranked holiday albums feature popular artists singing time-honored christmas classics. Traditional renditions of classical songs such as “Silent Night,” “The Christmas Song,” and “O Holy Night” appear on many of the most popular holiday albums, often in a style that preserves the songs’ original compositions.

Many of the least successful holiday albums, however, take unique approaches to classic Christmas songs that stray far from their original arrangements. Examples include Claudja Barry’s “Disco ‘Round the Christmas Tree,” which features songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” set to a disco beat. Another example is Yellowman’s “A Very, Very Yellow Christmas,” which features reggae renditions of “12 Days of Christmas” and “Deck the Halls” as well as original holiday-themed tunes like “African Christmas” and “Santa Claus Never Comes to the Ghetto.”

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