Elvis Presley’s Christmas Album: Remembering the Chart-Topping Holiday Classic

by Emily Morgan

Elvis loved all things Christmas. Besides going all out with his holiday decorations, the King of Rock-n-Roll loved singing about the yuletide holiday. Presley released his first holiday-themed record, Elvis’ Christmas Album in 1957. Unbeknownst to Presley, the album would become an instant classic and the best-selling Christmas album of all time in the United States. 

Following the release, the record soared to the top of the “Billboard Top Pop Albums” chart. For four weeks the album stayed at the top of the chart. The King’s album sold over 20 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time and the number one Christmas record.

The album features several holiday favorites such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Silent Night.” The album also includes two originals. Presley gave fans a rock-n-roll Christmas with “Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me)” and “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.” Presley placed his two originals on side one, while side two featured two secular songs and four gospel songs.

Elvis Presley’s Take on Holiday Classic Met With Controversy

However, the album was not without its controversy. Presley’s version of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” caused an uproar, with the song’s composer, Irving Berlin, requesting the song be banned from airwaves. Many stations ignored Berlin’s request, but Canadian stations decided not to play the album. Berlin viewed Presley’s version as a “profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard.” 

In 1971, Presley released his second Christmas album, Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas.  

Unfortunately, the iconic legend died later that decade in 1977. Rolling Stone ranked Elvis’ Christmas Album at No. 2 on its list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time. The magazine said Presley used every song as a chance to add “a suggestive thrust to a lily-white genre while slightly purifying his own bad-boy image.”

After its original release, the record has been re-cut multiple times in different formats.