Limitless mince pies, tumblers overflowing with Baileys, cheesy films — yep, that’s the gist of December. But when you think about other things that connote a sense of the festivities, it’s got to be the tunes. So, here’s a rundown of the top Christmas albums that aren’t actually Christmas albums.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — Kanye West
Without a doubt, this is my number one Christmas album that isn’t a Christmas album. Kanye’s richly powerful collaborations with Bon Iver, Kid Cudi, Rihanna and many, many more will be endlessly remembered and revered by me. Each track is worth a paragraph in its own right, but as we’re keeping things short and sweet here, at face value alone, does it get any more festive-sounding than ‘All Of The Lights’?
Untrue — Burial
Transcendent, time-honoured albums don’t often come quite as critically acclaimed as Burial’s ‘Untrue’. While I don’t typically associate this with a season, it’s one to shine a light on here. Anyone familiar will understand how incredibly addictive ‘Archangel’ is and why it should be recognised historically as, quite plainly, a banger. The chilled electronics are to be relished.
RTJ2 — Run The Jewels
If ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) ft. Zack De La Rocha)’ was your first dabble in all things RTJ, you won’t have been disappointed. That belter featured on their punchy sophomore album, which was another with a late autumn/winter release date. What a Christmas gift indeed! It’s jam-packed with slick rap gems, so you need to get acquainted with this duo’s work if you aren’t already.
Black Messiah — D’Angelo
Forging together Neo-soul, classic R&B and experimental hip-hop, D’Angelo has a deliriously infectious musical quality. His smooth-as-silk vocals are nothing short of harmonious beside funky guitar licks and quintessential rap drum beats. On this particular album, ‘Prayer’ and ‘Sugah Daddy’ best showcase how easy to listen to his back catalogue of rhythmic records is.
Kiwanuka — Michael Kiwanuka
The soulful, folky goodness delivered on this record, unsurprisingly, won Michael Kiwanuka the Mercury Prize 2020. These upbeat melodies possess a certain springtime quality, which isn’t true to its release date. But what a wonderful collection of material it was to drop in November 2019. It’s not a far cry from the songs he brought out at his Brudenell show back in 2012, but it’s all a smidge more refined.
So, there you have it — some offerings that have been released and rinsed so close to the festive season that they’re effectively Christmas albums in Record Weekly terms.