40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

38

Nat King Cole, 'The Christmas Song'

Courtesy Capitol Records

Nat King Cole was so smooth that his songs could elegantly slide away from a listener, like a figure skater heading for the far end of the pond. This album, originally released as The Magic of Christmas in 1960, provides baritone reassurance that Christmas is a happy time, not an annual family debacle. But the secret ingredient is Cole singing hymns in German and Latin: straining to put across foreign lyrics, you can hear him employing all his professional skill.

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