Sure Christmas music is festive and uplifting, but it can also be downright repetitive and monotonous. How many times in one lifetime do you need to hear about Rudolph’s glowing nose? I know I reached my limit a decade ago.
But yuletide tunes you usually hear in stores ad nauseum is just a sliver of the massive amount of Christmas music out there. In fact, there’s lots of fresh Christmas music to be heard, with updated takes on old classics, and even some lost gems you might not even know about. And all with a Canadian connection no less!
So grab a cup of rum-spiked eggnog, curl up in your dad’s old recliner, and behold the top 10 Canadian albums to restore your faith in the songs of snow, reindeer, and a portly man in a ratty red suite.
10. Justin Bieber – Under the Misteltoe
Surely it’s every parents dream to imagine their daughter “Under the Mistletoe“ with Justin Bieber, right? Definitely not, you say? Well maybe this Christmas album will change your mind. The Biebs adds some hip-hop to the Ho, Ho, Ho on “Drummer Boy” featuring Busta Rhymes and gets a little country with Home For Christmas with the Band Perry. Do you Beliebe in miracles?
9. Blue Rodeo – A Merrie Christmas to You
The boys from Blue Rodeo knew better than to deliver an album full of the stock Christmas standards. Their fans expect something a little different, and on “A Merrie Christmas to You“, the band delivered with thoughtful covers of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Song for A Winter’s Night” and Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.”
8. Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked for the Holidays
Whatever the Barenaked Ladies touch usually has a finely-tuned combination of musicianship and comedic edge. “Barenaked for the Holidays” is no different, as the song “Elf’s Lament” will attest. There’s also plenty of Hanukkah-themed ditties and great collaboration with Canadian chanteuse Sarah McLachlan on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
7. Liona Boyd – A Winter Fantasy
Nothing creates a cozy Christmas atmosphere quite like the sweet sounds of Liona Boyd’s gently-plucked classical guitar. Boyd, Canada’s first lady of guitar, has recorded two other Christmas albums, though “A Winter Fantasy“ features more sweeping orchestration and tasteful arrangements. A perfect accompaniment to sitting around the fireplace with the tree aglow.
6. An Oscar Peterson Christmas
A true Canadian treasure, Oscar Peterson tickles the ivories like no other on this sublime seasonal effort. Peterson’s trademark smooth jazz is at its finest here, with classics like “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “O Christmas Tree” conjuring the snowfall and hot totty mood. A clear rival to another classic jazz Christmas album, Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
5. Michael Buble – Christmas
The Canadian Sinatra was born to sing Christmas songs, which is probably why his 2011 album, “Christmas“, is his biggest selling album to date with over 9 million copies sold worldwide. This album has a double-dose of Canadiana on “White Christmas,” where Buble duets with country superstar Shania Twain.
4. Bruce Cockburn – Christmas
Canadian folk artist Bruce Cockburn, known for his politically-conscious tunes, mellows out on this unique and spirited seasonal album. While mostly avoiding the usual X-mas fare, Cockburn delivers unconventional and traditional compositions like the Huron Indian song “Jesus Ahatonnia.” A great album to spark the “What are we listening to?” question at your upcoming Christmas gathering.
3. Celine Dion – These Are Special Times
Celine Dion might not be everyone’s cup of eggnog, but with 12 million copies sold worldwide of this blockbuster “These Are Special Times“, it cannot be denied from this list. Released in 1998 right after he smash Let’s Talk About Love, this is Dion at the absolute height of her vocal powers.
2. Stompin’ Tom Conners – Merry Christmas Everybody
Your Christmas doesn’t officially qualify as being Canadian unless you play this album at least once. That’s a federal law. The iconic folk songwriter from New Brunswick released this album in 1970 and it still doesn’t sound the least bit dated. It’s full of Stompin’ style honkey tonk laments like “Down on Christmas” and “An Orphan’s Christmas”. Sad Christmas songs never sounded so good.
1. Anne Murray’s Christmas Album
You would be hard pressed to find a vocalists with as many Christmas albums as Anne Murray. She has a whopping SEVEN Christmas album, from “Christmas Wishes” in 1981 to last year’s “Icon: Christmas”. Clearly, Murray knows what she’s doing when it comes to this festive genre. Choosing the best one is a fool’s errand, but Anne Murray’s “Christmas Album“ from 2008 will get your where you need to go
Hopefully, I’ve opened your ears to some new Christmas sounds to help avoid getting Grinchy this holiday. Of course, all of these albums make a splendid stocking stuffer, so click on the album to order them from Best Buy.