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An Investigation into the Greatest Modern Holiday Album of All Time

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance to anyone I offend with these hot takes. I know for a fact not everyone will agree with me as I have had many heated arguments about this very issue. Mainly, I’m sorry most people can’t admit that they’re wrong.

Yes, we all know it’s that time of year again! Ho Ho Ho. You might even be sick of listening to holiday music already- but you clicked on this article because you want to know — What is the greatest modern-day holiday album of all time? And is it the one I deem the greatest?  Well spoiler: it’s probably not.

I decided to analyze seven holiday albums by modern artists. It’s hard to critique the old-timey holiday albums like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra because they’re classics and I also don’t know sh*t about music. And I actually prefer the classics to modern renditions of original holiday songs. Yet, there are still a lot of great modern ones out there — a lot more than seven, but it is finals szn so I don’t have a ton of time, and if I hear another rendition of Silent Night there’s no telling what I’ll do. So let’s begin!

7. Christmas – Michael Bublé

This album is actually very good, and I’m a huge fan of Michael Bublé’s deep and supple voice that makes me feel I’m taking a stroll in Central Park in the 1940s with my lover who is getting shipped off to war during our last Christmas together- okay I’m getting ahead of myself. The album’s fun, jazzy, and has virtually zero original songs on it, which is fine. The reason it’s at the bottom of this list, however, is that damn “Santa Baby” song. Bublé only sings “Santa Baby” twice in the song and then continues to say “Santa Buddy” with a hard emphasis on Buddy.

We get it Bublé. You’re not attracted to Santa. I don’t think we would’ve assumed you were if you just sang the original song. Changing the pronouns of a song to assure us that you’re not anything but straight is weak and boring! He even says Santa Pal-y and Santa Poppy which honestly is just gross. Thank u Michael, but next!

Best Song on the Album: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

6. The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection – Taylor Swift

Did you even know Tay Sway had a holiday album? I forget every year until I inevitably hear it playing in my Mom’s car when I’m home for Thanksgiving because it’s the only holiday CD we have lying around. There are only six songs on the album, so it’s a little bold to call it a Holiday Collection. Regardless, it’s a nice short and sweet Christmas album. It came out in 2008, so it’s got an old school Taylor Swift country feel to it which I don’t know about you — but I adore (and miss even though I’m very pro Reputation era Tay Sway)! There’s even a classic Tay Sway holiday-related breakup song: “Christmases When You Were Mine.” Also, for some reason, her rendition of “White Christmas” puts me in my bag? Not sure why, probably the guitar.

Best Song on the Album: White Christmas

5. Christmas & Chill – Ariana Grande

I feel like as a society, we’re on an Ariana Grande high right now, and personally, I don’t ever want to come down. This high also made me realize her 2015 EP Christmas & Chill is honestly #iconic. And they’re all original songs! That I enjoy! And for me, that’s a hard sell. Also, we had this EP on repeat all day at work the other day, and not once in the 6 hours did I get sick of it, so that’s a testament to how great it is. It’s very pop-y and makes you want to dance around the Christmas tree with your friends. The only issue I have with this album is that, like Tay Sway, it’s only six songs (not to sound greedy but pls give me more). Ariana also has another holiday song called “Santa Tell Me” that she released a year before the EP and is in the top 5 of my favorite Xmas songs. Please listen.

Best Song on the Album: This was very difficult, but I want to say, True Love.  

4. A Very Kacey Christmas – Kacey Musgraves

Honestly #JusticeForKacey. I’m mad I only started listening to Kacey Musgraves like a year ago. I won’t do justice describing her sound, but it’s a mix of country and pop, idk but it’s phenomenal, and she’s very underrated. You might also know her because she opened up for Harry Styles on tour- and she had such cute outfits. Wow, kind of rude I’m not Kacey Musgraves. Anyway, she also has a pretty great full track holiday album and covers pretty much every classic holiday song with a country-Hawaiian-ukulele-esque twist; it’s a unique holiday album. Her original songs aren’t spectacular, but she does have a song with Willie Nelson about getting high during the holidays, which is pretty funny and #relatable.

Best Song on the Album: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Legit is so beautiful it makes me cry)

3. Pentatonix’s Multitude of Holiday Albums

Did I know what a Pentatonix was before writing this article? No. But what I do know now is that they are a five-person a capella group, and they’re #fire. They’ve also seemed to have capitalized on the holiday music market with three Christmas albums — but hey good for them. As you can imagine from three albums, they’ve covered pretty much everything. To sum it up, every song is beautiful, especially those slow Xmas songs that get us in our feels for some reason, even though we know they’re about the baby Jesus. Like “Hallelujah” — is it a Christmas song? Definitely not. But it’s on the Pentatonix’s Christmas album, and it’s a journey of a song. You know those songs that feel really long and you’re not quite the same after hearing them? That’s what I feel like the Pentatonix specialize in. Unrelated holiday note (but still a gift), they also have a rendition of Jolene with Dolly Parton, which you should check out.

Best Song(s) on the Multitude of Xmas Albums: Hallejuah or Mary Did You Know?

2. Merry Christmas – Mariah Carey

Yeah, I know I don’t have to go into much detail about why this album is iconic. It’s Mariah Carey’s snow globe, and we’re all just living in it.

Best Song on the Album: Do I even have to say it?

1. Under the Mistletoe – Justin Bieber

Everyone RELAX. I know what you’re thinking, this is a bold take. But before you freak out and throw your hot cocoa everywhere, let me explain why Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe is the best modern holiday album of our generation — perhaps of all time.

JBiebs was in his PRIME when he released this album in 2011. And by prime I mean, his hair was the best it has ever looked. I was well into my One Direction phase at this point in my life and past my JB one, but after listening to this album, I would’ve missed my flight to Harry Styles’ house in England and spent Xmas with Justin in Canada (because obviously my twelve-year-old self was their first choice). Original Xmas songs can be a hit or miss, but every one on this album is a banger: “Only Thing I Ever Get For Christmas,”Mistletoe,” “Fa La La,” “Drummer Boy,” “Christmas Eve,” “All I Want Is You, Home This Christmas,” “Christmas Love.” They’re all so smooth, romantic, sexy even;“Let me give you all of me // Together on this Christmas Eve” damn OK Justin! Also the features on this album: shook. Biebs got Usher on “The Christmas Song,” Busta Rhymes rapping about Egg Nog on “Drummer Boy,” an original song with BOYZ II MEN “Fa La La” (which in my opinion, the best song on the album, and there’s an a capella version, I mean what did we do to deserve this). He’s even got the Christmas queen herself: Mariah on a duet of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (and there’s a music video with dogs for some reason).

So yes, hate to break it to you, but Justin Bieber is the king of Christmas and OG Xmas songs — sorry I don’t make the rules! And if you don’t believe me, take a listen to the whole album and don’t try to tell me you weren’t at least impressed.

Best Song on the AlbumFa La La

Other iconic Xmas songs for your listening pleasure:

My Only Wish (This Year) – Britney Spears

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – *NSYNC

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – DMX

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Demi Lovato 

8 Days of Christmas – Destiny’s Child 

And whatever music you listen to this time of year, or holiday you celebrate, here’s to hoping these final weeks of 2018 are filled with lots of love, relaxation, and good tunes. 

Logan Mahan

New School '20

Logan is a senior studying Journalism + Design at The New School. Her interests include (but not limited to) fashion, politics, red wine, the Bee Gees, playing "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston at every function she attends, and of course, writing. 
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