The best in pop Christmas albums. Top pop stars frequently record holiday songs or complete albums. These 10 are classics and the perfect place to start any holiday music collection.
At the peak of his success on the pop charts with his trademark "wall of sound" production technique, Phil Spector put together this Christmas collection by four of his top recording acts. The Crystals, Ronettes, Darlene Love, and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans each contributed their versions of mostly secular Christmas songs. The album had the misfortune of being released the same day as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and was a relative failure upon initial release peaking at #13 on the album chart. However, over time it has been recognized as perhaps the top Christmas album and one of the top overall pop-rock albums of all time. Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is particularly revered.
This was the first in a series of Christmas albums put together to benefit Special Olympics. The overall series has raised over $55 million for the cause. Artist Keith Haring contributed the cover art to this first collection. The overall project was overseen by producer Jimmy Iovine. The collection features a significant number of the top pop artists of the 1980's. Among the most celebrated recordings here are the Eurythmics "Winter Wonderland," Whitney Houston's "Do You Hear What I Hear?," Sting's "Gabriel's Message," and Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis."
Lee Mendelson, producer of the A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special heard a recording of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Vince Guaraldi's Trio while riding in a taxicab in San Francisco. Mendelson was put in touch with Guaraldi and he made the proposition that Vince Guaraldi create the score for the upcoming Peanuts special. The results were such a success that Guaraldi ended up composing scores for 16 Peanuts TV specials. Among the legendary songs created are "Linus and Lucy," "Christmas Time Is Here," and "Skating."
Pop-classical singer Josh Groban had already released three multi-platinum top 10 albums before putting together Noel, his first Christmas collection in 2007. The result was the sleeper hit album of the year. It was produced by David Foster, known for his big pop productions with such stars as Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. Noel hit #1 on the pop album chart in the US seven weeks after its initial release. It became the first Christmas album to ever spend five weeks at #1 on the album chart. By the end of 2007, the album had sold over 3.5 million copies making it the biggest selling album of the year.
Mariah Carey had released three multi-platinum albums and was riding high with the success of Music Box that spent eight weeks at #1 on the album chart and ultimately was certified ten times platinum when she decided to record a Christmas collection. Mariah Carey worked with a variety of producers, and, in the album's first run on the charts, it peaked at #3. The album includes the song "All I Want for Christmas Is You" which is considered a contemporary Christmas classic. It is the first holiday song to sell a million digital downloads.
Producer and composer Chip Davis first became known in the music industry for helping create the musical personality C.W. McCall for singer Bill Fries. C.W. McCall went all the way to #1 on the pop singles chart with the CB radio themed song "Convoy." Davis put together his own record label, American Gramaphone, to release a combination of classical music and light jazz under the pseudonym Mannheim Steamroller in 1975. The album was Fresh Aire and became one of the prototypes for new age music. In 1984 Mannheim Steamroller released this Christmas album, its first holiday collection, and found its true niche as a recording act. Mannheim Steamroller has now released eight platinum certified Christmas collections.
Elvis Presley was the hottest recording artist in the US having released nine #1 singles and three #1 albums in two years when he put together his first Christmas album. The collection spent four weeks at the top of the album chart and, with sales of nine million copies, it is considered the bestselling Christmas album of all time in the US. Songwriter Irving Berlin stated that Elvis' recording of "White Christmas" was a profane parody of the song, and it was ordered off a number of radio stations. Elvis Presley's version of "Blue Christmas" on this album is considered a holiday classic.
Nat King Cole first recorded "The Christmas Song" in 1946. However, it is his 1961 recording that was later added to a holiday album of the same name that is best known. The song and album became even more popular following Cole's death from lung cancer in 1965.
Bing Crosby's recording of the song "White Christmas" is considered the bestselling single of all time having sold over 50 million copies worldwide. This album was first put together in 1945 when it was released as 10 songs on five 78 rpm discs. The album was released as a standard vinyl LP for the first time in 1955. It has remained in print ever since and is considered the longest in-print album in the US except for the original cast recording of the musical Oklahoma! which was first released in 1943. The album first became available on compact disc in 1986.
The Carpenters' popularity was definitely beginning to fade by the time they put together this first Christmas collection. They would only have one more top 40 pop hit after release of Christmas Portrait in 1978. This album includes the duo's classic "Merry Christmas, Darling." The album has sold over a million copies and today is one of the best loved Carpenters albums.