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40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

40 Essential Christmas Albums

Bah humbug! Far too many Christmas albums are cynical efforts by artists recycling the same old songs to bolster their catalog sales. It doesn't have to be that way – great holiday music can elevate your spirit and thrill your ears. For this list, we culled the best Christmas albums: ones that you want to listen to year after year, not fascinating novelties. Get ready – it's starting to sound a lot like Christmas.

By Gavin Edwards

Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

Courtesy of Verve Music Group

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Ella Fitzgerald, ‘Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas’

If modern Christmas music is basically an appendix to the Great American Songbook, then who better to sing it than the foremost interpreter of Cole Porter and the Gershwins? This superb 1960 jazz album finds Fitzgerald enthusiastically romping through field and fountain, singing "Sleigh Ride" with supreme joy and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" with exquisite phrasing and subtlety. Even the songs that are overplayed chestnuts become tasty again after roasting in Lady Ella's vocal fire.

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