50 Essential Rock, Pop And Swing Christmas Albums

Best Christmas Albums

Photo: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Our 50 Essential Rock, Pop And Swing Christmas Albums list presents a wide variety of bands and artists crossing many genres all celebrating the Christmas Holiday. There have been literally  thousands of Christmas albums released since record companies started pressing LPs in the 1950s. Picking only fifty leaves out many classics. We could have just done one genre, but we wanted to present a wide variety. In this list you will find rock, pop, easy listening and jazz. Some of them are classic and some are lesser known

# 50 – Christmas – Chris Isaak

We open up our 50 Essential Rock, Pop and Swing  Christmas Albums list with the great Chris Isaak. The very talented Chris Isaak always had that Elvis Presley vibe, We saw him tour with Lisa Marie Presley in a very interesting concert. The arena was flooded with Elvis impersonators. Anyways, this is great way to open up this list. Released in 2004

# 49 – Christmas with The Smithereens

This one may hard to find, but its worth it. A mix of classics and originals from the great and most loved band The Smithereens. Released in 2007.

# 48 – Home for the Holidays – Darius Rucker

The lead singer of Hootie & The Blowfish released a great Christmas album in 2014 that also stood as his fifth solo album of his career. A Country, Soul, Rock affair at Christmas.

# 47  –A Very She and Him Christmas

There’s just something about these two that is very enjoyable to listen too.

# 46 – One Wish / The Holiday Album – Whitney Houston

I can listen to Whitney Houston’s voice every day. One of the greatest female vocalists of all time. She hits the mark as usual on her classic Christmas LP.

# 45 –  Christmas Time – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

Theses great Christmas sings sound so good with that special Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass sound. Released in 1968.

# 44 – The 4 Seasons Greetings – The 4 Seasons

This was only the group’s second album. Released in 1962.

# 43 – I Wanna Be Santa Claus – Ringo Starr

I bet you didn’t know Ringo Starr recorded a Christmas album. Neither did anyone else. Too bad, because its pretty good. Released in 1999 when we all thought the world was going to end.

# 42 – The Classic Christmas Album – Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan puts her unique and beautiful  spin on some Christmas classics and more. 

# 41 – Holiday Harmony – America

The beautiful harmonies of the band America sound fantastic singing holiday songs. Don’t miss this one.

# 40 – The Dean Martin Christmas Album

This original 1966 Dean Martin Christmas album is a classic. We could not form a Christmas list without it.

# 39 – Christmas Island – Jimmy Buffet

Love him or hate him, the man released a fun Christmas Cd for all his cray fans. You cant over look the power of parrot heads. (I think that’s what you call them)

# 38 – The Jethro Tull Christmas Album – Jethro Tull

The great Ian Anderson sounds as amazing as always on this rather interesting Christmas CD. Released in 2000.

# 37 – Winter Carols – Blackmore’s Night

A great companion piece to the Jethro Tull Christmas album is Ex- Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore’s Renaissance infused sounding Winter Carols.

# 36 – Halford III: Winter Songs – Rob Halford

How could you not love Christmas songs done with a touch of metals. Who better to do it than Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford. This is splendid.

# 35 – Christmas: Winter Nights – Al DiMeola

The legendary jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola delivers a holiday album filled with deep brilliant guitar playing that his fans will love as well as everyone else.

# 34 – Heavy Mental Christmas – Helix

Well, this is about as heavy as it gets. You got to have a sense of humor. One for the headbangers!

# 33 – Christmas Portrait – The Carpenters

From headbanging to The Carpenters. There’s something for everyone. The The Carpenters Christmas Portrait was a very successful Christmas album released in the 1970s. It is one of the biggest selling Christmas albums of all time.

# 32 – Home For Christmas – Sheryl Crow

We pretty much love anything Sheryl Crow does. This album was originally just released as a Hallmark CD in 2010. Now you can find it easily on Amazon. Its a great one!

# 31 – Crescent City Christmas Card  – Wynton Marsalis

The legendary jazz purist Wynton Marsalis swings hard on this roaring Christmas CD. Released in 1989.

# 30 – A Christmas Celebration Of Hope – B.B. King

Nothing like some great blues music for the Holidays. B.B. King and his great band light up those Christmas candles and let them smoke on this one.

# 29 – James Brown’s Funky Christmas’ – James Brown

James Brown released three great Christmas albums during his spectacular career. This CD is a greatest hits of the best of those three records. You need to own this now!

# 28 – Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

This one is legendary.  No one has ever sounded like Ella Fitzgerald. It would be futile to try. She tears it up and breaks all the Christmas bulbs on this fantastic swinging jazz album.

# 27 – The Beatles’ Christmas Album

The Beatles never released a full length Christmas Cd. They would released singles  every year with Christmas messages for their fans and little snippets of music while clowning around. In 1970 they put them all together and released a box set to their Beatles Club fan members. Eventually this will be put out on CD. The record is very hard to find.

# 26 – James Taylor at Christmas – James Taylor

This is a gorgeous Christmas album featuring the silk vocals of James Taylor. It’s his second Christmas album. Released in 2006

# 25 – Christmas Time Again – Lynyrd Skynyrd

This is a really good Christmas album that rocks hard southern style with some great original Christmas songs as well as the classics. The album also features Charlie Daniels & 38 Special.

# 24 – A Swingin’ Christmas Featuring The Count Basie Big Band – Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett has released a ton of Christmas albums throughout his career, but this 2008 release swings the hardest. Highly recommended.

# 23 – Home For Christmas – Hall & Oates

The last studio album Hall & Oates released as a due was this great Christmas album in 2006.

# 22 – Christmas In The Heart –  Bob Dylan

This one was a real surprise. And its actually really good. Love the track “Must Be Santa” It’s just perfect. Released in 2009.

# 21 –What I Really Want for Christmas  – Brian Wilson

Released in 2006. The title track was written by Brian Wilson and Bernie Taupin.

# 20 – Christmas Christmas – Cheap Trick

A great Christmas album filled with rocking traditional classic and a couple of originals. One written by Jimmy Fallon from a SNL live skit.. The song “Merry Christmas Darlings” below opened the album and is a Cheap Trick original. A  great new rocking Christmas Song that is just so Cheap Trick. The album was released in 2017.

# 19 – December – The Moody Blues

The final Moody Blues album Dreamer was a Christmas album. Mixed with originals and classics, it’s great to hear The Moody Blues sing anything. This one is pretty good. Released in 2003.

# 18 – Twisted Christmas – Twisted Sister

Very heavy and a lot of fun. Released in 2006. The video is awesome.

# 17 – You Make It Feel Like Christmas – Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani’s utilizes her original voice and  rhythmic  feel on her versions of Christmas Classic. However the album is filled with more originals than covers which we like. “My Gift Is You,” is an outstanding original Christmas Song. Released in 2017.

# 16 & 15 – Boogie Woogie Christmas / Dig That Crazy Christmas – Brian Setzer

Brian Setzer released two great rocking Christmas albums only a few years apart. Ther are equally fabulous and so we included both of them. His Christmas shows with the Brian Setzer Orchestra bring back memories of the 40s and 50s while rocking the house down every night.

# 14 – The Spirit Of Christmas – Ray Charles

If you can find this one, pick it up because its hard to find. Ray Charles is amazing on this one.

# 13 – Soul Christmas

This one is “Dyno-mite!Soul Christmas features all the great soul artists who recorded for Atlantic Records such as Booker T. & the MG’s, Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, William Bell, Carla Thomas, Clarence Carter, Joe Tex, and King Curtis.

# 12 – Christmas Eve and Other Stories

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra took Christmas albums to an entire new level. This was their first one and still our favorite of the three they released. Christmas Eve and Other Stories first hit the stores in 1997.

# 11 – Christmas Songs – Diana Krall

There are many reasons why Diana Krall is the biggest selling female jazz artist of all time. Take a listen to this and you will understand why….. Smooth big band jazz with killer piano playing and Diana Krall cool vocal style. Old school for the 2010s.

# 10 – A Very Special Christmas

We open up the top 10 of our 50 Essential Rock, Pop And Swing Christmas Albums with two great compilation albums. A Very Special Christmas was a huge success and fueled many more follow up editions to this great album released for charity. The first one still remains the best one. Released in 1987.

# 9 – A Motown Christmas – Various

This one is packed with all the great Motown artists such as The Temptations, The Supremes, The Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. Originally released in 1973 as a two record set.

# 8 – Santamental

What does Steve Vai, Steve Lukather, Slash, and the late Eddie Van Halen,  all have in common besides being guitar masters? The answer is they all played on Steve Lukather’s intense and little-known Christmas album entitled Santamental. Tell me you don’t love our site for turning you on to this. Yeah baby!

# 8 – Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby’s “What Christmas,” is not only the biggest selling Christmas song of all time, it’s the biggest selling Song of all time. It was originally released on a 78 rpm record in 1945. Eventually, RCA packaged the song in a new recording with other Bing Crosby songs as well as a few Andrew Sisters recordings on the LP Merry Christmas which was released in 1955. It is believed to be the longest running album still in print.

# 7 – A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra

No one sings “Jingle Bells,” cooler than Frank Sinatra. You better like this one……

# 6 –  The Ventures Christmas Album

For all those who love the surf sound and those great guitar, organ rocking instrumentals of The Ventures. This is an all time favorite. Released in 1960. Take a listen to the great recording of “Frosty The Snow Man,” played with the rhythms of The Champs “Tequila.”


# 5 – Merry Christmas – Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” has become one of the biggest selling Christmas songs of all time. This was a fabulous album fueled by the incredible vocal chops of Mariah Carey. Its such big sounding record in its production values that even Phil Spector would be jealous of it.  “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” was written by Mariah Carey and released in 1994. It is probably the most successful modern day original Christmas songs post 1960s.

# 4 – The Christmas Album – Elvis Presley

There was a time when there was no doubt who the King was. The Elvis Christmas Album is one of the most treasured rock and roll Christmas albums ever released. The record was originally released in 1957. “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me,” and “Blue Christmas,” were huge hits from the album.

# 3 – The Beach Boys Christmas Album – The Beach Boys

Oh those harmonies sound even sweeter at Christmas time. The Beach Boys classic album The Beach Boys Christmas Album remains one of rock and roll’s all time gems. Even the cover is fantastic.

# 2 – A Charlie Brown Christmas

If you grew up in the 60s or 70s as a kid, you can’t help but be extremely nostalgist about this one. The Christmas sound of broadcast tv during the holidays belonged to Charlie Brown and his crew.  While “Linus and Lucy,” and “Christmas Time is Here,” were the big hits and deservedly so to come out of this Christmas specials, we have always really liked the sleeper hit “Skating.” The brilliant Vincent Anthony Guaraldi on piano.

# 1 – A Christmas Gift For You – Phil Spector

This is not just our favorite Christmas album, its one of our favorite albums of all time. Just like Brian Wilson said! Phil Spector’s brilliance was only as good as the talent he utilized to warp his wall of sound around. On this cherished Christmas album, Phil Spector brought in the A team of  Darlene Love and Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes. Also included on the album were The Crystals and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. All the recordings on this one are fabulous. However, our favorite tracks “Sleigh Ride,” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause,” belong to the Ronettes.

Updated December 14, 2022

50 Essential Rock, Pop And Swing Christmas Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020

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