‘Tis the season … to start making room on your (virtual) shelf for this year’s bumper crop of new holiday albums and singles. It’s never too early to check your Christmas album list twice to see which fresh Santa songs will make it into rotation this year at what will surely be a strange holiday.
Luckily, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from, including a sprig of cheer from Dolly Parton, as well as collections of classics and some new tunes from Carrie Underwood, Meghan Trainor, JoJo and Jonas Brothers. See our First Stream holiday list of 2020 albums and songs to check out below.
Carrie Underwood, My Gift
Country superstar Underwood got a jump on the holiday rush early by dropping her 11-song collection in September. The album features traditional tunes (“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” “O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger,” “Silent Night” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”) with a couple of new songs she co-wrote (“Let There Be Peace,” “Sweet Baby Jesus”). Plus, John Legend joins her on “Hallelujah.”
Dolly Parton, A Holly Dolly Christmas
For the country legend’s first Christmas collection in 30 years, she tackled some favorites (“Holly Jolly Christmas,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “All I Want For Christmas Is You”), along with five tracks written by the singer (“Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas,” “Christmas Is,” “Circle of Love,” “Christmas on the Square,” “You Are My Christmas”). Duet partners on the collection include Michael Bublé, Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson and Darren and Rhonda Vincent.
Jonas Brothers, “I Need You Christmas”
Jonas Brothers followed their spectacular 2019 comeback with a handful of strong singles this year, but nothing quite as heartstring-tugging as “I Need You Christmas,” a holiday ballad that finds Nick, Joe and Kevin channeling their inner Bing Crosby. Premium music for slow-dancing under the mistletoe.
Mandy Moore, How Could This Be Christmas
After returning to music earlier this year with the long-awaited album Silver Landings, Moore has put an exclamation point on 2020 with How Could This Be Christmas, a holiday two-pack featuring the original title track as well as her spin on “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Both are great complements to the latest tearjerking episode of This Is Us!
The Bird and the Bee, Put Up The Lights
The pop duo of Greg Kurstin and Inara George have collected their favorite holiday songs (“Deck the Halls,” “Sleigh Ride,” “The Christmas Song”) along with original compositions (“Merry Merry,” “You and I At Christmas Time”) and “Little Drummer Boy” featuring Dave Grohl on their eight-track album.
Ingrid Andress, “Christmas Always Finds Me”
Country singer-songwriter Ingrid Andress is capping off a breakthrough year with a bittersweet Christmas track dedicated to the tumultuous year which precedes this holiday season. Even with a hint of sorrow on “Christmas Always Finds Me,” Andress shows off her sterling vocals.
Matt Nathanson, Farewell December
The singer-songwriter’s 12-track set tackles chestnuts such as “Blue Christmas,” “White Christmas,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and Joni Mitchell’s “River” and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on “Christmas Time Is Here.” Also be on the lookout for covers of more rocking holiday songs by John Denver & the Muppets (“When the River Meets the Sea”), The Kinks (“Father Christmas”), Harry Nilsson (“Snow”) and Greg Lake (“I Believe in Father Christmas”).
Gwen Stefani, “Here This Christmas”
The sunny “Here This Christmas” not only gives Gwen Stefani the official soundtrack song for the Hallmark Channel “Countdown To Christmas,” but serves as an addition to the deluxe edition of the No Doubt singer’s previously released holiday album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas — a phrase she’ll surely be singing to her new fiancee, Blake Shelton.
Maddie & Tae, We Need Christmas
The duo’s first holiday release is a six-track gift with two originals, the title track and “Merry Married Christmas,” along with faves like “This Christmas,” “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” “We are so proud of this project and loved recreating some of our favorite Christmas classics as well as write some of our own,” they said in a statement.
Meghan Trainor, A Very Trainor Christmas
The Grammy-winning pop star is prepping her first-ever Christmas collection, which balances classics and a cover of Wham!’s 1986 smash “Last Christmas,” with six originals, including “My Kind of Present,” co-written with her brothers Ryan and Justin. “I’m a Christmas baby, it’s always been a dream of mine to release a Christmas Album and to do it with my family makes it that much better,” Trainor said in a statement about the album, which will spotlight original “Holidays” with Earth, Wind & Fire, “Christmas Party” and “Christmas Got Me Blue,” with Seth MacFarlane visiting for a “White Christmas,” cousins Jayden, Jenna and Marcus Toney helping out on “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and Meghan’s dad, Gary, guesting on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
For King & Country, A Drummer Boy Christmas
The country duo recorded two original songs for the album, including the just-released “Heavenly Hosts,” which they said in a statement was hard work, but totally worth it. “Writing an original Christmas song is a bit of a daunting task, but we were always very intrigued by what it looked like when the angels met the shepherds,” they said. “What did it look like, and what was being said? One of the beautiful storylines of the song is that the simple shepherds were the first ones to see the beautiful spectacle in the sky, and we thought it would be an appropriate story to tell through song for A Drummer Boy Christmas.”
Liam Payne feat. Dixie D’Amelio, “Naughty List”
After releasing “All I Want (For Christmas)” last year, Liam Payne wanted to release a holiday song for the TikTok crowd in 2020, recruiting Dixie D’Amelio for the viral-ready “Naughty List.” “I love making TikTok videos and have really enjoyed connecting with the community,” Payne said in a statement. “Everyone on TikTok is so creative and I love seeing all of the ways they use my music in their videos which is why I decided to release ‘Naughty List’ on TikTok first.”
Tori Kelly, A Tori Kelly Christmas
Kelly’s first-ever Christmas album was executive produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Scooter Braun, with 11-time Grammy superstar Babyface adding some vocals on “Let It Snow.” In addition to some holiday classics, the album will spotlight two new holiday originals written by Kelly. “I’m so grateful to Babyface for helping me create an album that I am so proud of,” Kelly said in a statement. “I still can’t believe that I got to work with such a legend on my first-ever Christmas album. He really brought my vision to life and made every song so special.”
Andrew Bird, Hark!
The singer/songwriter best known for his signature whistling and violin playing — as well as a recurring role in the current season of Fargo — has cooked up an eclectic mix for his first Christmas full length, mixing in beloved standards (“Oh Holy Night,” “White Christmas,” “Auld Lang Syne”), originals like the first-ever COVID-inspired holiday song, “Christmas in April” and covers of songs by John Cale (“Andalucia”) and John Prine (“Souvenirs”).
Dan + Shay, “Take Me Home For Christmas”
The best-selling duo released its first original Christmas song, which has all the hallmarks of their winning country-pop approach: “Take Me Home For Christmas” sounds like a festive cousin to Dan + Shay’s smash hit “10,000 Hours,” and the pair says that it comes years after fans demanded a holiday song from the country vets.
JoJo, December Baby
The pop hitmaker announced her first Christmas album with an adorable throwback pic of Lil JoJo and the message, “The one thing on my Wishlist this year is to convey to you the way an ideal Christmas feels to me. Cozy, playful, soulful, nostalgic, hopeful. We could really use an infusion of holiday cheer after this unbelievable year. I can’t wait for you to have this album and make it YOURS.” The 13-track album includes five originals (“December Baby,” “Coming Home,” “Wrap Me Up,” “North Pole” and “Wishlist” with PJ Morton), as well as “Noelle” with Jacob Collier, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song” and “Silent Night.”
Lady A, On This Winter’s Night
The country trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum is issuing a deluxe version of their 2012 No. 1 holiday album with four new tracks: “Wonderful Christmastime,” “Little Saint Nick,” “That Spirit of Christmas” and the original “Christmas Through Your Eyes.” “We’ve always loved the holiday season, but it has become even more magical now that we’re parents,” Hillary Scott said in a statement. “So, we thought we’d add on a new, original song that was inspired by our kids and our take on a few of our favorites, which has brought us so much joy. I think we could all use a little extra holiday cheer this year!”
Various Artists, Happiest Season Soundtrack
Sia, Bebe Rexha, Tegan and Sara, Anne-Marie, Brandy Clark, Shea Diamond and more contributed to the soundtrack for Hulu’s Happiest Season movie, which is out Nov. 25 and stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen. The OST was executive produced by Justin Tranter. Look out for new original songs like Anne-Marie’s “Think of Christmas” and Tegan and Sara’s “Make You Mine This Season.”
Leslie Odom, Jr., The Christmas Album
The Tony- and Grammy-winning singer/author/actor is also mixing the old and new on his 10-track collection, including originals “Winter Song” (feat. Cynthia Erivo), “Snow” and “Heaven & Earth,” as well as chestnuts “Last Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” and more. Among the other highlights are a version of “Little Drummer Boy” with South Africa’s Mzansi Youth Choir and Odom’s wife, Broadway star Nicolette Robinson, joining him for the Chanukah song “Ma’oz Tzur.”
Florida Georgia Line, “Lit This Year”
“Got some good ole Christmas spirit in this cup right here / That Christmas tree ain’t the only thing getting lit this year,” Florida Georgia Line sings on “Lit This Year,” a special type of holiday single that raises a glass to the season, and then keeps that glass plenty full.
Pentatonix, We Need a Little Christmas
The Grammy-winning vocal group are gearing up to drop their sixth holiday album, previewing it with a stirring cover of “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).” At press time the full track list had not yet been released.
Lil Nas X, “Holiday”
After conquering the Hot 100 — quite literally, as he set the record for the longest-leading No. 1 single in the chart’s history — with “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X will return with “Holiday,” which was teased in a Back To The Future-themed trailer. One can only imagine how many remixes this new hit will receive!
LVRN, Home For The Holidays
Love Renaissance (LVRN)’s first-ever holiday album features songs from Summer Walker, 6LACK, Shelley (formerly known as DRAM) and Westside Boogie, with appearances by label’s up-and-comers OMB Bloodbath, Eli Derby and Young Rog and three skits by Kitty Ca$h.
Shaggy, Christmas in the Islands
Mr. Boombastic is here to bring a warm-weather glow to the winter months with his 15-track, sun-splashed holiday collection. Bringing along a bunch of pals — Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Junior Reid, Ne-Yo, Romain Virgo, Ritchie Stephens, Conkarah, OMI, Rayvon, Joss Stone — Shaggy mixes in originals (“No Icy Christmas,” “We Got Us,” “Take You to the Cool”) with some reggae-style covers of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “Christmas Time” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
“Since I was a child, I can remember seeing tourists flock to Jamaica during Christmastime for some sun, fun, rum, and great parties!” Shaggy said in a statement. “Our island is all about family, friends, food, great beaches, warm, welcoming people, and a strong culture, which is the perfect recipe for a joyous Christmas, so we decided to embody all of that into one album.”
Annie Lennox, A Christmas Cornucopia
Eurythmics singer and solo star Lennox is dropping a digitally remastered 10th anniversary version of her sixth solo album, a collection of interpretations of traditional holiday songs and the Lennox original “Universal Child.” The collection will also feature the previously unreleased track “Dido’s Lament,” as well as tracks that draw from British, French, German and African traditions, including “Lullay Lullay,” on which the singer draws a link between the Nativity and the plight of Africa’s child soldiers, as well as favorites such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” “Silent Night,” “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Tori Amos, Christmastide
Amos’ four-track Christmas EP will feature the four originals — “Christmastide,” “Circle of Seasons,” “Holly” and “Better Angels” — recorded with longtime collaborators drummer Matt Chamberlain and bassist Jon Evans. “With Christmastide it was important to be positive and to try and lift people’s spirits,” said Amos in a statement. “It’s a time of year that should be joyful with family and friends but also can sadly be a very lonely place for some. Many families will be unable to be together this year because of the Pandemic as well as many that are also dealing with the aftermath of a long and bitter US Election. I hope these songs contained in this beautiful package can be a small treat to help along the way.”