40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

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Various Artists, 'A Very Special Christmas'
Courtesy of A&M Records13/40

13. Various Artists, 'A Very Special Christmas'

For this charity album in 1987 – the first in a long series benefiting the Special Olympics – producer Jimmy Iovine pulled in an all-star lineup, including Madonna, Sting, Whitney Houston, and John Cougar Mellencamp. Standout performers included Bruce Springsteen ("Merry Christmas Baby"), U2 ("Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," and the Pretenders ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"), but nobody could top Run-D.M.C. rapping "It's Christmastime in Hollis, Queens / Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens."

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