They know its Christmas, but do you? Good. Unlike in years’ past when we basked in the warm glow of new Christmas music selections, 2012 brought a holiday draught. And while one could write thousands of words about John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, we’d prefer not to.

Instead, here are our picks for our top 10 favourite Christmas albums. (And don’t worry, Kanye West of 2009, Taylor Swift didn’t make the cut.)

10. The Beach Boys Christmas With The Beach Boys

Considering none of the Boys spent their days on the beach in the first place, it probably wasn’t too much of a stretch to produce an album as enthusiastic about Santa as one about waves. Complete with personal Christmas greetings and “Little Saint Nick,” the ‘91 re-issue combined digital re-mastering with ‘60s nostalgia, which is obviously what Christmas is all about.

9. Various Artists – Christmas On Death Row

But how dare we reserve Christmas music for tidings of joy and retro beats? Enter: Christmas On Death Row, which offers cold, hard realities in “Christmas in the Ghetto” and “I Wish.” Merry Christmas.

8. Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

If your Christmas music playlist doesn’t revolve around “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” you are lying to yourself and everyone you care about. Arguably the song of the holiday season (thanks in part to Love, Actually, which must be mentioned in every holiday piece, or may the Mayans strike us all), that one little jam made Mariah’s album a Christmas mainstay. Aside from two mediocre offerings, Merry Christmas reigns supreme. Especially if you like to scream-sing en route to the mall.

7. She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas

If you take a successful pop duo and pair them with various covers of Christmas classics, you have a recipe for success and maybe festiva punch. An album as smooth as it is foolproof (come on – we all wanted Zooey Deschanel to release a holiday album after hearing her sing in Elf) it combines the warm seasonal feelings with the it-factor of M. Ward working with a Golden Globe nominee. Christmas can be cool, you guys.

6. Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas

Whether or not Sufjan planned to become a “Christmas artist” after releasing his three-disc holiday record remains a mystery. But what does not is that we all benefitted from it. Transitioning between folky carols to straight-up hymns, Songs For Christmas fulfilled the role Stevens was born to play: Santa Claus.

5. Various Arists – The Ultimate Motown Christmas Collection

It’s a well-known fact that anything titled The Ultimate Motown Christmas Collection is going to be mesmerizing, and obviously, this version lives up to that. Whether it’s (a very young) Michael Jackson holiday greeting or Stevie Wonder’s version of “Ave Maria,” Motown’s Christmas album manages to one-up itself each time a new song begins. But don’t take our word for it, count how many times you catch yourself saying, “I LOVE this song!”

4. Various Artists – A Very Special Christmas Volume 1

But if you’re gunning for new, hip artists — of 1990 — you probably already hold A Very Special Christmas close to your chest (as you sleep) like the rest of us do. Tracks like Run DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis” and Whitney Houston’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” make this mixed record a time capsule of the late 20th century, and what most of us listened to when our parents let us help wrap gifts. Minus Madonna’s version of “Santa Baby.”

3. Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas

No one can croon like Ella Fitzgerald, which is why Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas is the perfect anecdote to seasonal kitsch. Tired of listening to Brenda Lee? (If so, you’re a monster, but that’s your call.) Throw on “Let It Snow.” Can’t handle anymore “Christmas Wrapping?” (How? What’s wrong with you?) Switch to “Sleigh Ride.” This record has the singlehanded ability to turn your casual work Christmas party into a classy, sophisticated affair. Or at the very least, make you suddenly self-conscious of how often you wear jeans.

2. Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas

It’s understandable to get emotional come Christmas, so if you’re not one to shy away from tears, Vince Guarldi’s Charlie Brown soundtrack is custom-tailored for you, and anyone else with a soul. From the piano to the cast’s “Hark The Harold Angels Sing” you’ll remember why it’s okay to love Christmas, and more specifically, Charles Schultz’s creations.

1. Various Artists – A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector

We’re not about to defend Phil Spector, but we are about to give credit where credit is due. Enter: his production, and how each and every one of these tracks encompasses the best parts of every holiday movie montage. Between The Ronettes and The Shirelles, you’ll understand why musicians today attempt to duplicate the girl groups of yesteryear. Well too bad, knock-off bands of the 2010s. This is one Christmas present no one can re-gift.
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