The time has come again when the house is filled with the sweet sounds of jingle bell music. If ever there was a year to turn up the holiday jams to lift spirits, it’s 2020. I broke out my seasonal vinyl as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were in the sink, but you don’t need a turntable to access all the merry music your heart desires.
Here is an annotated list of the top 5 festive albums in my collection that you can stream with your library card through hoopla music or request from our catalog.
Sadly, I did not discover Emmet Otter until last holiday season. This 1977 television special by Muppets’ creator Jim Henson and company has it all: cute otter puppetry, a touching story of friendship, a mother and son up against all odds, and an array of catchy songs sung throughout. In my house we are quickly making up for 40 years of missed viewings of the movie and the soundtrack is now spinning year round. While the story takes place in the town of Frogtown Hollow during Christmastime, none of the songs are specifically holiday themed and are delivered by an array of lovable critter performers. There are also a few real rockers on there by the traveling Riverbottom Nightmare Band!
I had to put this well-worn classic on the list. With his instantly recognizable voice, Illinois native Burl Ives is also known this time of year as the beloved narrator Sam the Snowman from the 1964 TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Bring some 60s–70s inspired funk music to your holidays with this album by the late Sharon Jones and her backing band the Dap-Kings. The horns will have your feet tapping in no time at all! Favorite tracks: 8 Days (of Hanukkah), White Christmas, God Rest Ye Merry Gents
Need some 90s in your holiday repertoire? This is a continuation of the A Very Special Christmas compilation series created to benefit the Special Olympics. Favorite track: Christmastime by Smashing Pumpkins. Other featured artists include Sting, No Doubt, Steve Winwood, Tracy Chapman, Patti Smith, and more. Drumroll please… Coming in at number one…
This is my all-time favorite holiday album. Kermit, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo, Rowlf the Dog, Animal and the rest of the muppet gang really bring it. Solid joy from start to finish. Favorite tracks: The Twelve Days of Christmas, A Baby Just Like You, Christmas is Coming. Of course there are a few runners up who should get honorable mentions:
This one is pure childhood memories as soon as you hear David Seville with his “chipmunk pals inviting you to get aboard the Christmas bandwagon!” I still can’t believe how mad he gets at Alvin.
Ok ok, this is not a holiday album, but one of my favorites and the song 12.23.95 repeats the line “Merry Christmas baby” over and over so it counts! I also found the song on this Alternative Rock X-Mas compilation featuring The Dandy Warhols, Sinead O’Connor, Luscious Jackson, The Specials, and more. Other favorite track on Clarity: Lucky Denver Mint
You’ll find plenty of melody, swing, blues, and jazzy improvisation wrapped up in this compilation of Christmas favorites performed by greats like Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, and Miles Davis.