Bing Crosby, 'White Christmas' (1986)
What Jesus is to Christmas, Bing Crosby is to Christmas music. The Irish crooner's 1941 version of Jewish songwriter Irving Berlin's dreamy ballad "White Christmas" has sold 50 million copies, inspiring covers by everyone from Stiff Little Fingers to New Kids on the Block. Seven decades later, his vocal style remains the template for elegant ease and stately sentimentality. Crosby's 1945 album Merry Christmas – expanded over the years with tracks from throughout the Forties and Fifties and reissued on CD as White Christmas in 1986 – has a distinct Irish-Catholic flavor thanks to the hymn "Faith of Our Fathers" and the jaunty "Christmas in Killarney." There's also the Hawaiian-tinged "Mele Kalikimaka" (one of three songs where he makes hella merry with the Andrews Sisters). But, of course, the best tracks are solo Crosby, pouring vocal butter on "Silver Bells" or "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and making them unforgettably his own. This is what great singing is. If you don't like it, you're looking for something else.