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RARB Holiday Picks, 1993-2013

By RARB Staff | December 24, 2013

In celebration of RARB's 20th anniversary alongside the holiday season, reviewers were asked to choose their favorite holiday-themed album from among all those that RARB has reviewed over the past 20 years. Unlike with Picks of the Year, reviewers were not required to have personally reviewed the album chosen.

As the all time champions of genre-bending barbershop a cappella, Acoustix makes the most of their four voices with ringing tones and happiness-inducing cheer.

This holiday EP from Five O'Clock Shadow features original pop-style songs with an '80s metal feel alongside a few holiday classics. This isn't your father's Christmas album, or even your older cousin's.

With creative arrangements and killer solos, both sung and mouth-drummed, The Carol Commission is definitely worth a spin at your next holiday party.

Eclipse's third album boasts interesting takes on traditional hymns and throws in a few solid originals for good measure.

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland is the platonic Christmas record, the most perfect selection and presentation of some of the loveliest nativity music in the Christian world.

Rebecca Christie

Any group that can make me forget that it's Christmas and just enjoy the song for pure entertainment deserves to be at the top of the list. "River" remains in the top 10 of my all-time favorite tracks. Lush and absolutely inspiring.


Even though my initial review was quite good (overall 5, and 11 of the individual tracks also gettings 5s), it's even grown on me since then — to the point that I've recommended several of the songs to my own choir's director to consider for our own performances. The singers are outstanding nearly everywhere and display a palpable enthusiasm for the music. And with 11 of the 18 tracks being songs I hadn't even heard before, this eclectic collection has not only been a fantastic addition to my Christmas album collection but is a can't miss recommendation for any a cappella fan.

John Colton

This is the album that launched Straight No Chaser's professional career and, arguably, the national pop-cultural obsession with a cappella that happily still rages on. It's a pretty good holiday album, too.

Combine amarcord's impeccable musicianship (and tuning!) with a collection of holiday tunes from around the world, and you get what may be the most fascinating Christmas album ever created. Familiar selections like Winter Wonderland get fun choral treatments, and the unfamiliar ones are by turns wistful and whimsical — proving once and for all that the Christmas spirit, like music itself, is a truly universal language.

Michael Marcus

My pick is Julero without hesitation. I play it year-round for dinner guests, who are always captivated by this album, even though they never understand a word of it.

Kimberly Raschka Sailor


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