40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus


The Beach Boys, 'Christmas Album'

Beach Boys Christmas Album
Courtesy of Capitol Records

When Los Angeles shopping malls want to make it snow for their customers at Christmastime, they blow soap flakes into the air. It feels fundamentally wrong but festive – just like the 1964 Beach Boys singing about snow instead of surf. The best part of this album are the five original songs written and produced by Brian Wilson, but even the standards with orchestral arrangements sound great because of the Beach Boys' harmonies – as beautiful as a westward-leading star.

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