In 1994, Mariah Carey‘s Merry Christmas, which contains her seasonal chart-topping carol “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” helped revitalize the contemporary pop holiday album. The singer’s effort was not the top selling yuletide-themed project of the year — that title went to Kenny G’s Miracles: The Holiday Album — but its enduring popularity helped set a new standard for the modern Christmas album.
By the turn of the century, recording a holiday album became a rite of passage for almost every burgeoning pop star, with some releasing more than one over the course of their careers. Mariah herself released Merry Christmas II You in 2010, while a cappella group Pentatonix dropped six holiday albums in a decade.
At the same time, seasonal music, secular or otherwise, continues to transcend genre and age. Both Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber were just 17 when they released their first holiday collections, The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection and Under the Mistletoe, respectively. And now that well over a decade has passed since both releases, only time will tell if the two have festive fa-la-la follow-ups up their sleeves.
To celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year,” Billboard decided to take a look back and tally up the 21 best Christmas albums of the 21st century so far. Whether you’re curled up by the fireplace with a warm cup of cocoa, taking a drive through winter wonderland or rocking around the Christmas tree with your friends and family, listen in below.
And check out our top 100 Best Christmas Songs of All Time list here.