I’m a bit fussy about Christmas music. I tend to favor classical and jazz arrangements over pop, and while I’ve been to my fair share of Mannheim Steamroller concerts (and one Trans Siberian Orchestra concert), I wouldn’t rank their albums among my favorites. That being said, here are my top three favorites:
1. Christmas Adagios – Various Artists
I picked up Christmas Adagios at Barnes & Noble years ago and couldn’t convince anyone else that it was good because of the way the cover looked: like a sappy compilation of mediocre Christmas music. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Featuring the likes of Pavarotti, the Choir of King’s College, the Vienna Philharmonic, and more—this is really the ideal classical Christmas album. If you’re looking for Christmas music that will create a solemn, sacred, reflective atmosphere: this is it. And with a whopping 45 tracks for only $11.99, it’s an absolute steal. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite track, but if I had to, I’d pick Pavarotti’s performance of “Ave Maria.” Gives me chills every time!
2. Jingle All The Way – Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
Quite possibly the strangest Christmas album I’ve ever heard, Jingle All the Way is a wild ride from start to finish. Béla Fleck is a world-reknowned banjo player, and yet I wouldn’t call this a bluegrass album. Instead it’s sort of a fusion of jazz and bluegrass that adds a bizarre yet fresh twist to a number of Christmas classics. Most of the tracks are purely instrumental, though a few feature Tuvan throat singing! My favorite tracks are “Sleigh Ride,” “Linus And Lucy,” and their great instrumental cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.”
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi Trio
I don’t feel like this one needs a lot of explanation. I’ve been a Peanuts fan since I was a kid and nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas!
Note: If you see big swaths of white space under the album names, those are supposed to be widgets where you can preview the songs. I don’t know how they’ll appear on various devices (or the RSS feed), so I thought I’d mention that.
Update: uBlock blocks the iTunes widgets, and I bet other ad blockers do too. Feel free to whitelist this site: I don’t have any actual advertisements on it.
Update #2: I removed the widgets because they were causing some strange behavior in Newsblur, which is my favorite RSS reader.