I am no musician, but I know what I like, and the music I review will be songs that deserve to be played forever.
I have been collecting Christmas albums since I was old enough to buy records. This year I realized that a few albums stood out from the pack. These albums really deliver the holiday spirit in every song.
Here is a list of the three Christmas albums that bring it in every way. I have included my favorite five songs from each album.
I Wanna Be Santa Claus by Ringo Starr
This album by Ringo Starr came out in 1999, but I didn’t discover it until this year. The album got great reviews, but they didn’t promote the album, so it wasn’t successful.
I didn’t expect this album to be so good, but Ringo really surprised me. This album brings pure Christmas joy. Ringo brings early rock influences, a bit of punk, a Jimmy Buffet groove, and even traditional Irish and Scottish sounds. Ringo sounds so happy and energized in each number. All of the songs are great. My top five picks on the album are:
1. “Little Drummer Boy” Ringo has known since he was a little boy that all he wanted to be was a drummer. He fulfilled his dream. It is no surprise that he would pick “Little Drummer Boy” to be on his album. The drums are right in front and very expressive. Ringo sings with strength. He includes in this song his Irish roots with bag pipes. Ringo plays the drums with love in this song.
2. “I Wanna Be Santa Claus” is Ringo’s wish to be Santa and give gifts to all girls and boys. Ringo wants to be the Santa that brings Christmas cheer all year long. It is a magical song, it has almost a Jimmy Buffet/Phil Spector sound to it as well as a Christmas with the jingle bells. This song fits Ringo’s personality a great song. I love the talking at the end of the song as he sounds like Santa.
3. “The Christmas Dance” this song sounds like Ringo stepped back in time to his teenage years in England. It has that rockabilly/country sound that Ringo has always gravitated to. You listen tapping your feet and feeling the party mood of the Christmas Dance and hoping that Ringo gets the girl this year.
4. “Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On” this song sounds like an Adam Ant tune with the driving drums and in your face singing. Ringo must have had a blast laying down the drum beat on this sound. If the Christmas lyrics weren’t in it, it would have been a good rock song.
5. “Christmas Eve” slows things down a bit. It finds Ringo all alone at Christmas seeing his lost love’s gifts under the tree. Ringo makes you feel the loss. He just wants his love back and as the music swells you feel the loss too. A sad song, but a good song just the same.
I Wanna to be Santa Claus should be in everyone’s Christmas rotation. The songs, but most of all Ringo Starr put you in that holiday spirit and you will find yourself singing “I Wanna be Santa Claus” too.
Next on the Christmas album list is:
Elvis’ Christmas Album it was released in 1957 and it has something for everyone. There is gospel, rock and roll, pop, and of course, Christmas. Elvis loved Christmas and it shows on this record. Elvis has picked all the perfect songs on this album. It is very hard to just pick five of the best.
1. “Santa Claus is Back in Town” Elvis shows his roots with this bluesy song. Elvis puts some grit in his vocals and this song just grooves. This song has Elvis sounding like a naughty Santa. Look out girl Santa is back in town. Elvis’ vocals, the piano, the drums all blend to create a perfect Christmas song.
2. “White Christmas” this song Elvis puts a Drifter’s twist to it. I love Bing’s version, but I love Elvis’ version too. It has a groove to it and Elvis gives the song his all. It is a wonderful that Elvis put his style on it. The choir keeps the song grounded in a Christmas feel.
3. “Blue Christmas” Rock and Roll and Christmas combine in this funky song by Elvis Presley. He has the beat coming steady, the jangling guitar, and the piano, but the best part of the song is Elvis’ vocals. He can sing notes all over the place and put emotion into the song giving it that bluesy sound.
4. “Winter Wonderland” starts off like horses going through the snowy fields, it feels like Elvis and his love are walking briskly through the cold weather. Then in the middle of the song, there is a cute xylophone sound where they build a snowman in the meadow. The guitar rings out like a bell and keeps the song moving along. Elvis sounds soulful and happy with the new love he has found in this winter wonderland.
5. “I’ll Be Home on Christmas Day” this song sounds tailor made for Elvis. He sings of being all over the United States and how he dreams of going home on Christmas Day instead of working and being on the road. He gives us that gospel sound the emotion is there, and you can feel Elvis just tired of all the touring, and just wanting to be home with the one he loves. It is a beautiful song.
The Elvis Christmas Album lets the listener really feel the Elvis personality. His love of Christmas and family, his love of music whether it was gospel, Christmas, rock or pop. Elvis showed he could sing any of those genres and make you feel all the emotions he was trying to convey. This album is a jewel.
The final album that exemplifies Christmas is CeeLo Green’s Christmas album CeeLo’s Magic Moment. This album was released in 2012 and it got favorable reviews from the critics. It is easy to see why. CeeLo sings with such joy on this album. You can feel just how much he enjoyed making this album by listening to it. This album has Christmas sounds, soul, funk and R&B. This mixture makes for an album that helps give Christmas going with every listen.
Once again it is very hard to pick just 5 favorites, but here they are:
1. “What Christmas Means to Me” this Stevie Wonder song is done justice by CeeLo. He creates a Motown sound and the upbeat tempo gets the listener feeling happy as CeeLo sings about all that things that Christmas means. CeeLo sings strongly throughout and you would have thought he had written the song himself because of his vocals.
2. “This Christmas” is a soulful sound with CeeLo Green singing this song and meaning every word. The violins, the piano, and CeeLo’s sincerity make you want to sing along. The horns also add a wonderful sound to the song. It has a 70’s vibe that makes it a very appealing song.
3. “Please Come Home for Christmas” is a song that never gets old. It has that old-time rock and blues sound to it. If you want to slow down the music and get serious this is the song. CeeLo sings with passion and you can hear the pleading in his voice for his love to return home. The instrumental hook near the end of the song is catchy. This song will live on in Christmas future it is a classic song.
4. “Run Run Rudolph” is a perfect song to get you up and dancing or getting you feeling peppy and energized. Chuck Berry performed it first, and CeeLo performs it with a soulful, fun, rock and roll style. The electric piano really rocks and CeeLo sings it with humor and playfulness.
5. “All I Want for Christmas” is a slowed down version of the song Mariah Carey sang so beautifully on her Christmas album. This song sounds like a early rock and roll Phil Spector tune. There are bells, drums, piano, and a beat that keeps the song bouncing along. There is a sadness to the song as CeeLo finds himself alone on the holiday and his only wish for a merry Christmas is the return of his love. The way CeeLo pleads his case Santa will surely grant CeeLo his girl back to him.
CeeLo has created a Christmas album that has become a favorite of mine. Since I got it in 2012 I have listened to it every Christmas since. It is an album that has it all.
Ringo Starr, Elvis Presley, and CeeLo Green show their holiday spirit in a big way with these Christmas albums, you can tell they love Christmas in every note, they sing, and all the music matches their enthusiasm. These Christmas albums should be in everybody’s top three Christmas albums. They each bring Christmas joy in every listen.