1. Bing Crosby-Between “White Christmas,” the 1954 hit film and his memorable duet with David Bowie , Crosby’s resonant bass-baritone provides the Americana holiday soundtrack.
2. Nat King Cole- Although Bing is king of the season, Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song” is the ultimate harbinger of holiday cheer. Just mentioning it makes you want to buy chestnuts right? Considering his version was recorded in 1946 and still sounds fresh, even to those of us born after Regan’s election, it’s a testament to both the man and the feeling of the season.
3. Mariah Carey– According to Webster’s, a crooner is a singer of popular songs. If popularity is the standard, Mariah has it in droves. Bolstered by “All I Want for Christmas,” Carey’s Christmas album sold more than 12 million copies. Don’t pretend like you don’t have it on your shelf, just put it on and dance while the turkey’s cooking.
4. Elvis Presley- No one gets a moniker like “The King” without the ability to rule the charts and Elvis’ silky gospel-based vocals only shine brighter on Christmas standards like “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
5. Johnny Mathis-I grew up listening to Johnny; my mother would never forgive me for leaving him off this list. With nine Christmas albums under his belt, he’s as much a part of the season as spiked eggnog.
6. Karen Carpenter- In the 70s and early 80s Karen Carpenter’s voice managed to be every emotion all at once and nowhere do you hear the longing more than on “Merry Christmas Darling”.
7. Frank Sinatra– Practically the reason for the term “crooner”, Sinatra’s not just a standard, he’s the standard, plus the idea of a Rat Pack Christmas still seems cool. The choral arrangement on “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is the perfect accompaniment to his smooth, familiar voice.
8. Burl Ives– Beyond the Rankin & Bass animation, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” will always be a favorite holiday special because of Ives. He sounds like the universal grandfather.
9. Sarah Brightman- Originating the role of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, Brightman’s angelic voice might not be typical crooner, but it’s pitch perfect for Christmas.
10. Judy Garland- written for “Meet Me In St. Louis,” there’s no denying “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is one of the most beautifully wistful holiday songs, and Garland’s voice is perfect for it.