40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

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Nat King Cole, 'The Christmas Song'
Courtesy Capitol Records38/40

38. Nat King Cole, 'The Christmas Song'

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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