What Are the Top-Selling Christmas Albums of All Time?
From Elvis to Josh Groban, here are the albums that have soundtracked the most Christmases through the years.
Elvis Presley's Elvis' Christmas Album reigns as the biggest-selling Christmas album of all time in the United States.
The set has been certified as having sold 10 million copies according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Billboard has compiled a list of the top 10 selling Christmas albums, using both RIAA certification information and actual point-of-sale data from Nielsen Music. For albums released before SoundScan started collecting data in 1991, we used their RIAA certification to determine sales.
Following Presley is Kenny G's Miracles: The Holiday Album with 7.37 million sold according to SoundScan. The jazz saxophonist's album, which was released in 1994, spent three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Kenny G followed up the success of Miracles with five more Christmas releases, including Faith: A Holiday Album (released in 1999; 2.76 million) and Wishes (2002; 740,000).
Three albums are tied with 6 million in sales each, according to the RIAA: Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song and two sets by Mannheim Steamroller: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas and A Fresh Aire Christmas.
Cole's The Christmas Song album -- with its famed title track (known to many as "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire") -- was originally released in 1960 as The Magic of Christmas. It was reissued in 1963 under the new title, and included his 1961 recording of "The Christmas Song."
Mannheim's first holiday album, the simply titled Christmas, was released in 1984, and the act has followed it with numerous successful Christmas efforts. The instrumental group has earned six No. 1s on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart through the years.
Josh Groban's smash album Noel is next up on the list, with 5.89 million sold, according to SoundScan. The album was released in October of 2007 and quickly became that year's biggest selling album, with 3.7 million sold in 2007. It overtook the soundtrack to High School Musical 2 to become that year's top seller. (The soundtrack had been the best selling album of 2007 until the week ending Dec. 16, when Noel jumped ahead of it. High School Musical 2 finished 2007 with 3 million.)
Noel spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and at the time, that was the most weeks at No. 1 for any Christmas album. Its feat was since tied by Michael Buble's 2011 album, Christmas. (The album with the second-most weeks at No. 1 is Presley's Elvis' Christmas Album, with four.)
A gaggle of pop divas are next in line on the all-time list: Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas (5.5 million, according to Nielsen Music), Celine Dion's These Are Special Times (5.44 million, per Nielsen) and Barbra Streisand's A Christmas Album (an estimated 5.37 million).
Carey and Dion's albums were released in 1994 and 1998, respectively. Carey's title carries the inescapable new holiday classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You," which has sold more downloads than any other holiday song ever (3.4 million).
As for Streisand, her collection was first issued in 1967, and it was last certified -- for 5 million in sales -- in May of 1999. Since that time, it has sold an additional 370,000. Thus, we can estimate the album's total to be around 5.37 million, if we blend RIAA and Nielsen data.
Rounding out the list of the all-time top 10 best selling Christmas album is Johnny Mathis' Merry Christmas, with an estimated 5.24 million sold. Released in 1958, the album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. The album was last certified by the RIAA in November of 1999, for 5 million sold. Since then, it has sold another 242,000, bringing its estimated total to 5.24 million.