Album: Merry Christmas
Artist: Bing Crosby
Originally released in 1945, Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas compilation (now retitled White Christmas in its 2014 reissue) cemented the singer’s reputation as the biggest pop star in the world. Containing 10 Christmas songs ranging from old (“God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”) to new (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”), Crosby’s Christmas collection has been a holiday favorite for 80 years.
Of course, within the confines of “Christmas music,” the album is always relegated to a specific time and place. But as far as Christmas albums go, Merry Christmas never loses its luster, even if you’re unlikely to give it a spin 75% of the calendar year. It’s filled to the brim with tidings of comfort and joy, and the album has enough variation to stay fresh from song to song. For example, we get all kinds of holiday cheer: secular (“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”), Catholic (“Silent Night”), Latin (“Adeste Fideles”), Hawaiian (“Mele Kalikimaka”), Irish (“Danny Boy”) and, of course, the best-selling single of all time (“White Christmas”).
As always, Crosby’s choice of music perfectly matches the subject matter. He brings in The Andrews Sisters when he needs something more upbeat, and he slows down the tempo when the moment calls for something more solemn. And on the immortal “White Christmas,” Crosby’s brilliant full-bodied voice blends in perfectly with a snowfall of lush orchestration to create a holiday pop song that transcends the season altogether. You can listen to it any day of the year, and it still retains all its magic.
As far as Crosby albums go, Merry Christmas is just another example of his total mastery of popular music forms. And as far as holiday music is concerned, Merry Christmas is an old-time treasure that will remain in the American rotation a century after its release.