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Image / Living / Culture

5 underrated festive albums that belong on those Christmas playlists


By Jennifer McShane
24th Nov 2021

Eugene Zhyvchik via Unsplash

5 underrated festive albums that belong on those Christmas playlists

Is it too early to break out the Christmas playlist? It may be November but the Late Late Toy Show *is* on this week, so we think not.

Love Christmas tunes (yes, we can now listen to them guilt-free thanks to the year that has been 2021) but sick of the tried and tested favourites? Will you crack if you hear Mariah Carey continually on repeat for the next few weeks? Jennifer McShane rounds up five underrated gems to consider adding to your Christmas playlist instead…

Home Alone soundtrack

Not a traditional album by any means, but Home Alone‘s music is so well-known at this stage, it may as well be considered one. The classic film has an iconic score thanks to film composer legend John Williams’ mix of music and traditional songs. It’s all 90s nostalgia, beautiful classical Christmas instrumentals culminating in what makes for an unforgettable Christmas album.

Wrapped In Red by Kelly Clarkson

There’s much to be said about an artist who can carry any song; such is the power of their voice. That pretty much sums up US singer Kelly Clarkson’s pipes. Her take on traditional tunes mixed with some newer festive offerings means she single-handedly carries the music, rather than it being the other way around — no easy feat when it comes to tackling larger-than-life Christmas tunes.

She lends the right amount of soul to ‘Blue Christmas’ and her original tracks – ‘Underneath the Tree’ and ‘Wrapped in Red’ – are joyous, catchy, and uplifting – and one for the ‘classic’ Christmas lists in a few years’ time is our bet. The ultimate in yuletide cheer.

Everyday Is Christmas by Sia 

The real test when it comes to creating festive jingles is making them sound like they aren’t festive jingles. Eccentric talent Sia puts her trademark quirky spin on the tired festive formula with an album that could be played all year round and not look too out of place.

It’s smart, powerful pop; a catalogue of original songs with some festive twinkles aptly thrown in. The titular album track is a highlight while even cutesy tracks like ‘Snowman’ and ‘Snowflake’ get morphed into clever, relatable life analogies. The refreshing take on holiday tunes you didn’t know you needed.

James Brown’s Funky Christmas

This might just be the most overlooked Christmas album of all time. This one breaks tradition and steers away from straight-up carols. Instead of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town,’ we get tracks such as ‘Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto.’ And surprisingly, it works very, very well.

Here, Brown balances his signature sound with the tonality of Christmas songs — only there’s little evidence of serene sleepiness and instead, a smash of holiday offerings to funk up your playlists.

Christmas by Chris Isaak 

Not a fan of Michael Bublé? No offense intended to any fans, but I never saw his appeal, and wanting to give me an alternative — the silky-smooth vocal tones of a male singer with excellent hair — a friend recommended ‘Wicked Game’ singer Chris Isaak’s take on a Christmas album.

His voice sells the songs — a combination of classic and cool, but it’s a subtle offering — one that can be played in the background or raised over the annual family festive row, safe in the knowledge that at least you’re not playing Michael Bublé for the 5oth time.

Main photograph: Unsplash