I have to admit it. I’m a Christmas Carol snob. I don’t like most “holiday” songs. I like Christmas songs. And, I like traditional Christmas songs — Christmas carols that are not ashamed to sing about Our Lord. I tend to judge a singer by how they sing my favorite, “O Holy Night.” If they add too many vocal florishes or electronic sounding instruments, I have to reject their Christmas album (and usually everything else they sing) out of hand. [All links lead to iTunes. If you don’t have it installed, don’t click the links in this post.]
For example, with current artist hits Jessica Simpson, though hot, has a terrible version of “O Holy Night. Even Celine Dion, often prone to overdoing songs, has one of the better versions. Clay Aiken has a fantastic version too. In fact, Clay’s whole album is quite tradition and very impressive. His album is fifty-fifty Christmas carol and Christmas song. Given that he was one of those idol people (I don’t keep up with reality TV), I figured he’d butcher the song like his contemporary Kelly Clarkson did with her horrible background singers. At least, in the clip, she kept her vocal florishes to the absolute minimum to still qualify as an R&B poseur.
The gold standard for Christmas, in addition to the likes of Bing Crosby, Perry Cuomo, and Leontyne Price, is Arthur Fiedler. Oh, and we would do ourselves a great disservice if we did not point out (since we mentioned Ms. Price) a beautiful version of “I Wonder as I Wander,” a song that should be in your collection.