8 of the campest Christmas albums ever made – from festive fun to sad girl bangers

An edited image shows Mariah Carey dressed in a Santa-inspired costume in a music video in the top left hand corner. On the top right is a picture of Destiny's Child. On the bottom half of the picture is Kylie Minogue posing in artwork for her Christmas album. Christmas tinsel separates each image.

Let’s face it, most Christmas music is painfully, unabashedly straight.

The festive season is a time for colour, ambiance and festive cheer, but if you listen to the radio, it’s all the same tired songs. Yes, we know, Wizzard wishes it could be Christmas every day, and yes, we know everyone loves singing about “cheap lousy f****ts”.

While the masses are off listening to Chris Rea singing “Driving Home for Christmas”, we’ll be sitting in the corner listening to Mariah’s vocal acrobatics and Kylie singing with the very dead Frank Sinatra, thanks very much.

As we approach the Christmas season, we bring you eight iconic Christmas albums from the big pop girls that’ll give you the dose of festive drama you’ve been craving.

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Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas (1994)

Mariah Carey performs at the 81st Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Pre-Tape at Rockefeller Center on December 3, 2013 in New York City.
Christmas just wouldn’t sound like Christmas without Mariah Carey. (WireImage/James Devaney)

Where else would we start? Mariah’s Christmas album, simply titled Merry Christmas, is about as good as it gets.

Mariah pretty much invented Christmas when she unleashed this legendary album on the world all the way back in 1994. It’s the album that gave the world “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, which may well be the all-time best pop girl Christmas song.

Full disclosure: There’s a lot of religion on Merry Christmas – and you know what? That’s absolutely fine by us. Mariah is one of the few pop girls who can get away with singing about Jesus and still keep the gays entertained.

So pour yourself a glass of mulled wine, sit back and do your best to sing along with the queen of Christmas herself.

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Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas (2001)

Destiny's Child during The 69th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting in New York City.
Destiny’s Child during the 69th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting event in New York. (WireImage/KMazur)

Picture the scene, the year is 2001. That awful film adaptation of Tomb Raider is playing in cinemas, “Fallin” by Alicia Keys is on the radio, and – most importantly of all – Destiny’s Child are at the top of their game.

It’s still remarkable to think that Destiny’s Child released just five albums during their reign, and it’s even stranger to think that one of them was 8 Days of Christmas.

The 13-track record was released in 2001, the same year that Survivor came out, and it became an instant classic of the season.

The standout remains the title track, which see Beyoncé and company reinventing the traditional song with lyrics clearly aimed at straight women and needy bottoms.

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Kylie Minogue – Kylie Christmas (2015)

Kylie Minogue is joined by Dannii Minogue on stage during her Christmas show at the Royal Albert Hall.
Kylie Minogue is joined by Dannii Minogue on stage during her Christmas show at the Royal Albert Hall. (Getty/Christie Goodwin)

Kylie had tried her hand at pretty much every musical genre by the time she got around to recording a Christmas album.

The result is Kylie Christmas, and it still signals the start of the festive season for countless gays.

The album sees Kylie trying her hand at some festive classics, from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. It’s camp and overblown, and it’s a lot of fun.

As is usually the case with a big pop girl Christmas album, the best tracks are the original ones. “Oh Santa” is an instantly-iconic spiritual successor to “Santa Baby” and “Cried Out Christmas” captures how most of us actually feel at this time of year.

Make sure to listen to the expanded Snow Queen Edition to catch as much festive Kylie as you can.

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Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped in Red (2013)

Kelly Clarkson posing beside a large white Christmas tree while visiting Music Choice in New York City.
Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red album is definitely worth listening to over the holidays. (Noam Galai/Getty)

Kelly Clarkson might be best known these days for her talk show, but before she became queen of television, she was beloved by gays for her commitment to Christmas.

Wrapped in Red features five original tracks alongside a bunch of Christmas classics, and it’s always a festive delight.

Best of all is the single “Underneath the Tree” in which Kelly shows off her vocal chops, but her take on songs like “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “White Christmas” are also worth a listen.

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Kacey Musgraves – A Very Kasey Christmas (2016)

Kacey Musgraves performs on stage during the CMA 2016 Country Christmas on November 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kacey Musgraves offers some festive tunes with a nice hint of country style thrown into the mix. (Getty/Rick Diamond)

Before Kacey Musgraves became an internationally renowned star with the Grammy-winning album Golden Hour, she unleashed a Christmas album on the world – and we’re still glad she did. 

A Very Kasey Christmas sees the country star take on festive classics, but it also offers some addictive original tracks.

Some of the best moments include “A Willie Nice Christmas”, on which she duets with Willie Nelson, and “Ribbons and Bows”, which offers the dash of Christmas joy we all crave at this time of year.

If you’re looking for something a bit more downbeat, then “Christmas Makes Me Cry” is always worth a listen.

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Dolly Parton – A Holly Dolly Christmas (2020)

Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in front of a Christmas Tree circa 1992 in Lake Tahoe, California.
Go on, unwrap a bit of Dolly Parton this Christmas. (Getty/Ron Davis)

When Dolly Parton releases an album, gays are pretty much contractually obliged to love it, so A Holly Dolly Christmas was always going to get a spot on this list.

The record, which is somehow Dolly’s 47th studio album, features festive classics alongside some original tracks. Among the best are “Christmas on the Square” and Holly Jolly Christmas”.

Much like our good friend Mariah, Dolly’s unsurprisingly got some religious stuff on here, but we can embrace it when a gay icon of her stature does it.

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Leona Lewis – Christmas, with Love (2013)

Leona Lewis performs at the 81st annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 4, 2013 in New York City.
Classy performer: Leona Lewis. (WireImage/Paul Zimmerman)

When it looked like Leona Lewis’ career was starting to stall, she did what any astute pop star would do – she got to work on a Christmas album. 

The result is Christmas, with Love. The album doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but its three original tracks are top-notch Christmas pop, particularly the endlessly entertaining “One More Sleep”.

Leona’s take on classics like “Winter Wonderland” and “O Holy Night” is also worth a listen if you’re looking for something a bit more traditional.

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Alicia Keys – Santa Baby (2022)

Alicia Keys performs at The Rink under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on December 15, 2021.
Alicia Keys’ new Christmas album Santa Baby is full of top tunes as you’d expect from this amazing artist. (GC/James Devaney)

Alicia Keys’ album Santa Baby is the newest entry on this list. The record, released in November, is a delight from start to finish.

It should go without saying that the album opens with Alicia’s own take on “Santa Baby”, but it also includes some new tracks like “December Back 2 June” and the truly gorgeous “You Don’t Have to be Alone”.

If you’re somebody who disintegrates into a puddle of tears every time Alicia Keys sings, then brace yourself – Santa Baby is going to be a wild ride.

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