🎁 7 Must-Have Christmas Albums of the 1950s 🎅

By Thelen Creative

*As seen in Ultra Swank December, 2023 

Was the 1950s the Best Decade for Christmas Music?

   Each decade brings its unique cultural atmosphere, and the 1960s and 1970s left an indelible mark on holiday music. Renowned artists such as Nat King Cole and Dean Martin graced the 1960s with seasonal classics, while the 1970s witnessed a resurgence of legacy musicians. However, it's the 1950s that may be credited with initiating the era of classic holiday music.

   In the vast landscape of Christmas albums released throughout the years, albums of the 1950s stand out for their unmistakable charm. This decade marked a golden age for vinyl, as large, grooved discs became the predominant medium for enjoying music at home. The nostalgic, crackling sound of vintage vinyl records on a turntable adds a unique charm that perfectly aligns with the festive spirit of the holiday season. Here, we present seven enduring Christmas albums from the 1950s that deserve a place in your holiday record collection.

Christmas Eve with Burl Ives (1957, Decca Records)
  Burl Ives's Christmas Eve with Burl Ives, released in 1957 on Decca Records, is another gem from this era. Ives's rich, storytelling voice is now synonymous with the holidays, and this album beautifully showcases his talent prior to becoming known for his role in the animation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). From the charming “What Child Is This?” to the delightful presentation of “Twelve Days of Christmas,” the record contains renditions of then holiday classics as well as previously released material (eight of the album’s eleven song’s were first released in 1952 as part of Ives’s first holiday album Christmas Day in the Morning). His warm and comforting vocals make this record a must-listen during the Christmas season.

Johnny Mathis - Merry Christmas (1958, Columbia)
  One of the standout albums of the 1950s Christmas music era is Johnny Mathis's Merry Christmas, released in 1958 on the Columbia label. This album has become a holiday classic for a good reason. Mathis's velvety voice brings a timeless quality to a dozen beloved carols like "Winter Wonderland" and "Silver Bells." The lush orchestral arrangements (by conductor Percy Faith) capture the spirit of the season, making this album a perennial favorite that has stood the test of time.

Season’s Greetings From Perry Como (1959, RCA Victor)
  Perry Como, with his relaxed and soothing style, graced us with a lasting holiday album in 1959 on RCA Victor titled, Season’s Greetings From Perry Como. This often overlooked album is a masterclass in vocal elegance, featuring Como's renditions of classics like "O Holy Night" and "The First Noel” backed by The Ray Charles Singers who had just backed Buddy Holly & The Crickets on their last recordings in 1959. Listening to this Perry Como album is like wearing a favorite sweater, making Season’s Greetings… a comfortable and cherished part of the holiday season for many.

A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (1957, Capitol Records)
  Frank Sinatra needs no introduction, and his contribution to the world of ultra swank Christmas music is no less legendary. His first full-length holiday album, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra, released in 1957 (Capitol Records) showcases the Chairman of the Board’s unparalleled vocal prowess on a selection of religious Christmas carols and holiday classics. Song's like "Jingle Bells" and "Mistletoe and Holly" exude Sinatra's signature style, making this RIAA certified Platinum album a classy addition to any Christmas music collection.

Rosemary Clooney - Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (1954, Columbia)
  Of all the albums on this list, Rosemary Clooney’s song’s from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (from the movie of the same name in which Clooney starred with Bing Crosby) feels most like something from the wartime 1940s. The beautifully arranged compositions combined with Clooney’s delivery and popularity of the movie made immediate classics of the post World War II “Gee, I Wish I Were Back In The Army” and the Percy Faith conducted, “Snow.” By the end of the 1950s this album was already a holiday classic.

Presley, Elvis’ Christmas Album (1957, RCA Victor)
   Hard to imagine a bigger artist in the 1950s than Elvis Presley. Sales of Presley’s 1957 Christmas Album (RCA Victor) support the legend as the album ranks as the best-selling Christmas album of all time in the U.S. -and the world. The twelve song album contains no Presley originals, however his unique arraignments on holiday standards “Blue Christmas” and “White Christmas,” caused a bit of a stir at the time. Elvis’ Christmas Album has been re-released numerous times over the years with various cover art but the 1957 release remains the O.G. of Elvis Presley holiday records.

Bing Crosby - Merry Christmas (1955, Decca Records)
  No discussion of 1950s Christmas music would be complete without mentioning Bing Crosby. His eponymous Merry Christmas, released in 1955 on Decca Records, is a cornerstone of holiday music collections. The 1955 album is actually a re-release of a compilation of song’s first released on five 78-rpm records in 1945 also titled Merry Christmas. Crosby’s rendition of "White Christmas" in this recorded songbook is arguably the most iconic in music history, and it has become the quintessential Christmas song. This album's enduring popularity cements Crosby's status as a true holiday music legend as the 1955 version is the longest continually printed LP in the history of recorded music. Take that, Mariah! 

The 1950s: A Decade of Musical Magic

   The 1950s weren't just a great decade for Christmas music; they were a period of musical magic and innovation. The emergence of rock 'n' roll, the birth of rockabilly, and the continuing popularity of jazz and big band music all contributed to a rich and diverse musical landscape resulting in timeless Christmas classics that continue to resonate with generations of listeners.

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#ElvisPresley #NewMusic #OldMusic #HolidayMusic #HolidayPlaylist #MusicArticle #MusicWriter #Santa

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