I’ll admit, I was a little dismayed when I saw the Christmas decor going on sale BEFORE Halloween but, now that Samhain has come and gone, I can finally relax and enjoy the upcoming season. I’ve never been a big fan of crowded shopping malls and the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers, but listening to Christmas music always got me in the Christmas spirit, no matter how much snow there was to shovel or how much ice I had to scrape from the windshield of my car.
Growing up, I was introduced to a lot of classic Christmas music. My mother and grandmother both enjoyed Christmas crooners, such as “Ba-ba-ba” Bing Crosby and Elvis “the pelvis” Presley. Because of them, I learned that Dean Martin was someone other than “that serious guy in the Jerry Lewis movies” and that there was more to Jim Nabors than his signature “Surprise, surprise, surprise” ala Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Christmas crooners were a staple in our household and Christmas just wasn’t complete without listening to them on those scratchy old vinyl records.
In honor of many memorable Christmas seasons that have passed and many more in the making, here’s a list of my Top 10 Best Christmas crooners of all time. Get yourself some hot cocoa (with marshmallows), bundle up in your favorite throw and get ready to enjoy!
The Top 10 Best Christmas Crooners of All Time
Burl Ives: Perhaps best known for his role as Sam the Snowman in the stop-motion animated movie, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Burl Ives was an accomplished actor, writer, folk music singer and Broadway star. Ives’ Christmas hit, “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” released in 1964, is one of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs of all time.
Gene Autry: Even the singing cowboy, Gene Autry, was known as a very talented Christmas crooner. When he wasn’t riding the range with his trusty cowpony Champion, he was winning the hearts of the ladies singing great Christmas songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman” and his own composition, “Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane), which he wrote and released in 1948.
Bing Crosby: If I had to name someone King of the Christmas crooners, it would certainly have to be Bing Crosby. Bing had an unforgettable voice and a gentle mannerism about him that just drew you in and invoked the Christmas spirit. His best-known Christmas song, “White Christmas,” was released in 1945 and is considered the best-selling holiday song of all time, with sales of more than 50 million copies. Additionally, Bing Crosby teamed up with popular rock icon David Bowie, to perform the duet “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” in 1977.
Frank Sinatra: One of my favorite crooners of all time, Frank Sinatra had a great talent for putting me in the Christmas mood. You can’t help but ignore the hassles of shoveling snow and having to defrost an inch worth of ice off your car windshield when you can listen to Sinatra’s cheerful voice bouncing through tunes like his 1964 rendition of the Christmas classic “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
Elvis Presley: Rock music icon Elvis Presley joins our list of top Christmas crooners, infusing many great Christmas classics with his own signature style. While he had many great Christmas hits, his cover of the Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson song, “Blue Christmas,” (originally performed by Ernest Tubb) will always remain my favorite. While Elvis recorded the song clear back in 1957, it was a staple on both my grandmother and mother’s playlists throughout my childhood.
Dean Martin: Another must-have on my family’s Christmas list was the legendary rat pack member, Dean Martin. While I knew him best as “that other guy in the Jerry Lewis movies,” my mother and grandmother both loved his singing and no holiday was complete without listening to the 1966 “Dean Martin Christmas Album.”
Andy Williams: Part of the holiday festivities during my childhood always involved watching Christmas specials on television and Andy Williams’ Christmas specials were a real treat. His most popular Christmas hit was his 1963 recording “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” which returned to the UK music charts in 2007 after being used in Marks and Spenser advertisements.
Vic Damone: Vic Damone was best known for his musicals and work in various variety shows, but he manages to make the list of top Christmas crooners for his touching songs “Christmas in San Francisco” and his rousing rendition of the timeless Christmas classic “Deck the Halls.” While not as popular as some of the other Christmas crooners, Vic Damone still left his signature mark on the holiday season.
Nat “King” Cole: Popular American singer and jazz musician Nat “King” Cole is considered to be one of the best crooners of all time and his 1946 hit “The Christmas Song” shows why he makes the list of top Christmas crooners. “Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright” and Nat “King” Cole helps make it feel like Christmas.
John Lennon: Some people might not expect to see Lennon on a list of Christmas crooners, but he’s certainly one of my favorites. His 1971 ballad “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” originally began as a protest song about the Vietnam War, but is still considered a timeless and touching classic Christmas song. While it’s been performed by everyone from U2 to Celine Dion, nothing has ever come close to John Lennon’s version.
Personal experience, as a fan of Christmas crooners
Billboard: http://www.billboard.com – Information on various singers and songs