Thanksgiving is over, which means you finally have carte blanche to do the one thing you’ve been wanting to for the past month — play holiday music on a nonstop loop. And while we’ll never get tired of the classics by the likes of Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley, it’s nice to toss new material into the rotation every once in awhile. After all, you’ve got over a month to fill with very merry music.
Fortunately, each year typically brings about a new crop of holiday albums. From Pentatonix to John Legend, there are a handful of popular artists (and unexpected participants, *cough,* William Shatner) throwing their hats into the Christmas music ring this year.
So, we recommend doing your due diligence by giving the following newbies a listen. You’re nothing if not committed to the Christmas spirit, right? Who knows? One of these festive finds could be the album you play at every holiday party, cookie swap, family gathering and game night of the season.
Pentatonix, Christmas Is Here!
Let the melodic a cappella sounds of Pentatonix take you to a higher place this holiday season. It should come as no shocker this album is already a No. 1 best-seller — every holiday effort the group puts out turns to gold. But Christmas Is Here! is a perfect example of the true creativity of the group’s members: Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola and new member Mark Sallee.
Christmas Is Here! by Pentatonix, $7.19 at Amazon
John Legend, A Legendary Christmas
John Legend can do no wrong in our books, and his holiday record is no exception. It’s precisely the kind of velvety vocal mixed with a sort of modern vintage R&B vibe you’d want in an album to add to your annual rotation. This blend of classic songs and newer tracks also features several cameos by the likes of A-listers like Esperanza Spalding, Stevie Wonder and Raphael Saadiq.
A Legendary Christmas by John Legend, $11.88 at Amazon
William Shatner, Shatner Claus
File this one under strange but oddly irresistible. We’ll give William Shatner this much — he puts together a holiday album like only William Shatner can do. Basically, it’s a collection of tracks where Shatner essentially sing-talks over a strange conglomeration of guest singers including Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, Judy Collins and Brad Paisley. But you know what? We’re not mad at it. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is particularly fun (campy but fun).
Shatner Claus by William Shatner, $14.98 at Amazon
Jessie J, This Christmas Day
If big belters like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey are your absolute favorites, Jessie J is your girl when it comes time to picking out the perfect holiday album. Her pipes deliver in a major way and are complemented by a band as massive as her voice. It’s sassy good fun sure to get you in the Christmas spirit — especially since she tends to stay pretty close to the classics.
This Christmas Day by Jessie J, $11.88 at Amazon
Eric Clapton, Happy Xmas
Here’s something we can all celebrate! Rock icon Eric Clapton has put together his first full Christmas album, and yep, it’s full of bluesy guitar riffs. But even with Clapton’s classic rock sound, the songs are mellow enough to play in the background while you mingle with friends and family. Our favorite track is his reggae-rock-tinged take on “Jingle Bells.”
Happy Xmas by Eric Clapton, $9.99 at Amazon
Gwen Stefani, You Make It Feel Like Christmas
Technically, You Make It Feel Like Christmas came out last year. However, Stefani has rereleased a deluxe version this year, so now’s the perfect time to make the purchase if you haven’t already. Plus, Stefani’s recently released video of the title track featuring boyfriend Blake Shelton is so darn cute you won’t be able to wipe the cheesy grin off your face for weeks.
You Make It Feel Like Christmas by Gwen Stefani, $11.88 at Amazon
Ingrid Michaelson, Songs for the Season
It could be said that Ingrid Michaelson’s ethereal sound was made for Christmas music, and her new holiday album certainly seems to confirm as much. We’re swooning hard over its ‘50s-esque sound while feeling equally giddy about some of Michaelson’s modern collaborators — think Christina Perri, Will Chase and Grace VanderWaal. You’ll want to play it on repeat straight into the new year.
Songs for the Season by Ingrid Michaelson, $9.99 at Amazon
Aloe Blacc, Christmas Funk
Sometimes, you’ve gotta get a little funky before things feel right. If you’re tired of the standard holiday album fare, you need to pick up Christmas Funk by Aloe Blacc. His fresh, inventive spin on the standards is impressive, as are his own new songs. The man has a track titled “Funky Ass Christmas,” for goodness sake — you know this is going to be interesting.
Christmas Funk by Aloe Blacc, $13.09 at Amazon
RuPaul, Christmas Party
If Santa fulfilled our Christmas list, RuPaul would put out a holiday album every single year. As if Ho Ho Ho and Slay Belles from holidays past weren’t gift enough, 2018 brings Christmas Party. And not surprisingly, this dance-around-your-living-room album features plenty of remixes as well as sassy original songs, such as “Hey Sis, It’s Christmas.” Bonus? The album drops in conjunction with a new holiday special, RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular, on Dec. 7 on VH1.
Christmas Party by RuPaul (MP3 version), $5.99 at Amazon
PJ Morton, Christmas With PJ Morton
You’ve probably been seeing PJ Morton’s face all over your TV screen lately in previews for the movie Nobody’s Fool, starring Tyler Perry and Tiffany Haddish. Or maybe on the show Ready to Love. But Morton clearly can’t sit still for very long, because he’s added a new job title to his résumé: holiday album creator. What we love about the offering is how New Orleans-native Morton made it a point to add a bit of Southern flair to his songs.
Christmas With PJ Morton by PJ Morton (MP3 version), $6.99 at Amazon
Mike Love, Reason for the Season
Eric Clapton and now Mike Love? The rock gods are clearly smiling favorably on everyone this holiday season. Love, one of the founding members of The Beach Boys, has returned to singing holiday tunes 54 years after The Beach Boys released their original Christmas album. “What is so special about this collection of songs is that they harken back to the wonder of childhood and family,” he told Rolling Stone.
Reason for the Season by Mike Love, $12.19 at Amazon