Your Holiday Jukebox
Looking for holiday music to help warm the hearth, chill the eggnog or party in the new year? Yes, there's the traditional ("Silent Night"), and there's the contemporary traditional (José Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad"). But we can also look no further than top GRAMMY winners for some joyful tidings that may not be standards just yet, but don't bet against them when St. Nick's hitting the chimneys in 2025.
GRAMMY Winner: Alison Krauss (26 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: "Only You Can Bring Me Cheer (Gentlemen's Lady)" (iTunes>)
Included on A Very Special Acoustic Christmas, part of the charitable A Very Special Christmas series, and written with brother Viktor Krauss. Other GRAMMY winners featured on the album are Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, Wynnona, and more.
GRAMMY Winner: Stevie Wonder (25 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: Someday At Christmas (iTunes>)
Released in 1967 when Wonder was in his mid-teens. Includes the jaunty "What Christmas Means To Me" and traditional songs such as "Silver Bells," "Ave Maria" and "The Little Drummer Boy."
GRAMMY Winner: U2 (22 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" (iTunes>)
From the very first A Very Special Christmas in 1987 comes this U2 cover of the Darlene Love song from Phil Spector's groundbreaking A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector album.
GRAMMY Winner: Aretha Franklin (18 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: This Christmas (iTunes>)
Interject a bit of soul into your holiday proceedings with this collection, which includes "Ave Maria," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Angels We Have Heard On High," and a personalized reading of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" from the Queen of Soul herself.
GRAMMY Winner: Jimmy Sturr (18 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: A Jimmy Sturr Christmas (iTunes>)
Yes, you can roll out the polka holiday with this 1992 album of cheer and beer. Includes the vowel-challenged Christmas classic "Wykrzyknijmy Wiwat (Shout Viva)."
GRAMMY Winner: Ray Charles (17 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: The Spirit Of Christmas (iTunes>)
The album cover for this holiday classic features Charles with a sleigh full of gifts, and the album is packed with a sleigh full of merry tunes, including "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" and "Winter Wonderland."
GRAMMY Winner: Eric Clapton (17 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: "Christmas Tears" (iTunes>)
Looking for a live Christmas? Try A Very Special Christmas — Live From Washington, D.C., which features five tracks from Clapton, including teamings with Blues Traveler's John Popper, Mary J. Blige and Sheryl Crow.
GRAMMY Winners: Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, Steve Vai (16 GRAMMYs combined)
Holiday Cheer: Merry Axemas — A Guitar Christmas (iTunes>)
Need a holiday album with some trills, sweep picking, hammer-ons and pull-offs? This 1997 compilation offers shredding takes on traditional holiday songs, including Beck's pristine "Amazing Grace," Johnson's sublime "The First Nowell," Perry's slide guitar-fueled "Blue Christmas," Sambora's solemn "Cantique De Noel," and Vai's energetic "Christmas Time Is Here."
GRAMMY Winner: Sting (16 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheerless: If On A Winter's Night (iTunes>)
Sting finds the lump of coal in the holiday season with this decidedly Grinch-esque take on the most wonderful time of the year. "I trolled through any song from any period and any genre that mentioned snow, ice, Christmas, winter, frost. … " Sting told The Wall Street Journal. Brrrr.
GRAMMY Winner: B.B. King (15 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: A Christmas Celebration Of Hope (iTunes>)
King delivered his first Christmas album in 2001, wrapped with a bow for blues fans who could appreciate such songs as "Back Door Santa." It's vintage King with a holiday twist.
GRAMMY Winner: Chet Atkins (14 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: Christmas With Chet Atkins (iTunes>)
AllMusic.com calls it "one of the most underrated holiday platters of all time." Certainly it beats the cold-cut platter. Atkins was the king of country guitar and one of the architects of the countrypolitan sound, and he turns those forces into a Christmas present for you.
GRAMMY Winner: Tony Bennett (14 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: Snowfall — The Tony Bennett Christmas Album (iTunes>)
This 1968 collection of holiday music features Bennett swinging through a selection of holiday numbers, including "White Christmas" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Also included is "My Favorite Things" from The Sound Of Music, though we're not sure how this qualifies as holiday music?
GRAMMY Winner: Paul McCartney (14 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: "Wonderful Christmastime" (iTunes>)
As was always the way with former Beatlemates McCartney and John Lennon, "Wonderful Christmastime" was the sweet, celebratory counterpoint to Lennon's angrier, cautionary "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." While Lennon railed, "And so this is Christmas/For weak and for strong/For rich and the poor ones/The world is so wrong," McCartney sang, "The mood is right/The spirit's up/We're here tonight/And that's enough." Both are becoming Christmas standards. And the spirit is definitely up for McCartney as he'll be honored as the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year in February.
GRAMMY Winner: Michael Jackson (13 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: The Jackson 5 Christmas Album
This 1970 disc was the second official album release for the Jacksons. It contains mostly classic Christmas tunes, and may have been the last opportunity Michael had to be a kid.
GRAMMY Winner: Emmylou Harris (12 GRAMMYs)
Holiday Cheer: Light Of The Stable (iTunes>)
Released in 1979, Light Of The Stable has become a holiday classic, and was the beneficiary of a rerelease in 2004 with expanded liner notes and remastering. With special guests such as Dolly Parton and Neil Young, Harris presents hayseed-flavored renditions of "Cherry Tree Carol," "Little Drummer Boy," "Away In A Manger," and more.
What music will you be playing this holiday season? Leave us a comment.