Merry Christmas, folks, and RIP to the patron saint of the Brian’s Den, George Michael. It’s my great honor to present the 2019 inductions into the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. Founded last year, the Massapequa, New York landmark is opening its doors to welcome another class of legends. Icons who were left out in the cold on the first ballot get the relief and affirmation they’ve been seeking their entire careers and get a free trip to beautiful Massapequa. Visit Massapequa, because I get a tax break if enough people do.
The criteria for induction remains the same: some random combination of impact, sales, ubiquity, and general goodness. The biases of the committee, unfortunately, cannot be fully erased. Apologies to all the Dylan-heads out there. We’ll start with the Veteran’s Committee selections just to get them out of the way.
Veteran’s Committee Selections
Frank Sinatra- A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra
There, your grandpa and/or overly proud Italian-American dad can stop boycotting the Hall now. Listen, I don’t care about Frank, so I just picked the first one that came up. Deal with it.
Phil Spector- A Christmas Gift for You
People forget Phil Spector killed someone, but that doesn’t disqualify him from the Hall. Our standards are pretty low, here, especially when the music is good. Nothing like a good old compilation album, even if everyone on it is an old singer you’ll be shamed for not knowing even though it’s pretty reasonable not to know who any of these people are. Origin album for a bunch of songs you’ve heard before.
Only two this year, despite Louis Armstrong & Friends’ What a Wonderful Christmas receiving the necessary amount of votes. The Hall Chairman (me) hates “Zat You Santa Claus?” so passionately he refused to let it in. Shame.
Wham!- Last Christmas
I’ll be honest, I don’t know what A-sides and B-sides are and how these old record sales work, but this was sold as a single, so it counts. I was outvoted last year, but without the obvious inclusions of the inaugural class, Wham! breezed through the voting. We all know that briansden69.com was founded on the eve of George Michael’s death, but don’t think that this got in for sentimental reasons. It got in because it’s one of the greatest original Christmas songs since color television was invented. Pour one out for the GOAT.
Signature Song: I wonder what it could be?
Michael Bolton- This is the Time: The Christmas Album
Bolton. Christmas. Need I say more? No, I don’t. It’s in. He gets a little ahead of himself with two original songs, but the rest is pure Bolton. “O Holy Night” has never been the same since he hopped on the track, and his “White Christmas” is legendary. Putting this album on makes me want to get a perm-mullet and walk sensuously through the snow wearing a peacoat and boots that are a little too expensive to be wearing through inclement weather.
Cee Lo Green- Cee Lo’s Magic Moment
I don’t want to use hyperbole, but I think this might be the most underrated Christmas album ever. If Bublé is the king of retail Christmas, this album is the prince. Don’t believe me? Just think back to all the Christmas shopping you’ve done in brick and mortar stores since 2012 and realize how many of these songs you’ve heard. The answer is all of them. He completely flipped the “White Christmas” game on its head, which is enough to merit induction on its own. We value positive innovation, here.
Leona Lewis- Christmas, With Love
I honestly don’t know why L.L. isn’t the biggest star in the world, because she dominates every single song she’s ever recorded. Her voice is like a long gulp of water straight from a melting ice cap running down an Alpine stream after you just woke up but didn’t drink any water before bed so you’re unbelievably parched. I would listen to her sing absolutely anything. I would listen to her sing my 8th-grade science teacher’s evaluation of me that recommended my high school put me in the general group instead of the honors class and be thrilled about it. I would listen to her sing a collection of responses to any Star Wars Reddit post and be overcome with emotion. But yeah, this album’s awesome. It even has a good original song! That’s hard in a post “All I Want For Christmas” world.
Various Artists- A Very Special Christmas
Just a massive cast coming together to make the first in a long series, either the first or second is still the best. The first was selected, because why not go with the original? I admit that I couldn’t tell you much about the pop culture landscape of 1987, but how the hell did The Pretenders and Alison Moyet end up on the same album as Sting, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Spingsteen, U2, J.C.M. (John Cougar Mellencamp for the uninitiated), Bob Seger, and Bryan Adams? Let’s have some higher standards, here. Also, I’ve never listened to Bon Jovi’s “Back Door Santa” because there’s no way it could ever live up to my expectations of what it should be.
Signature Song: (reluctantly)
U2 sux, don’t @ me.
Kenny G- Miracles: The Holiday Album
Our final entrant barely edged out *NSYNC’s Home for Christmas, because apparently the rest of the voting committee thinks that it “sucks.” You can’t teach taste, I guess. Special shoutout to YouTube comments on videos older than 15 months old saying “anyone here in 2019?” I’m here, man. I’m here. Anyway, your boy Kenny G. Don’t let anyone ever tell you Kenny G isn’t a force to be reckoned with. All he does is put out albums that do huge numbers, and Miracles is no different. Weird cover aside, it was the highest-selling Christmas album in two different years, which is pretty crazy when you think about the fact that it’s a Christmas album from Kenny G. He’s an easy target, but you can’t tell me that smooth soprano sax doesn’t hit you in your loins when he really gets it going. Miracles is pure “dang, can’t believe how hard it’s snowing out. You might as well stay here in this cabin with a big fire going” music. All the classics plus an original song that you can ignore because it’s Kenny G.
Another year honoring beautiful Christmas albums in the books. If your favorite didn’t make, it’s probably time to ask yourself why you have such bad taste in holiday music (for housekeeping purposes, the two last cuts were the aforementioned *NSYNC and The Three Tenors’ A Tenors’ Christmas, which was bogged down by a never-ending tracklist) (Shoutout Jose Carreras. Everyone always talks about Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, but there had to be three tenors for The Three Tenors to be The Three Tenors. Don’t forget about my man Jose). Just make sure to visit the physical location in Massapequa, New York so I can get a tax write-off.