It’s Christmas time again and a whole slew of new holiday albums have been added to the music store shelves. But which ones are actually worth listening to?
Below is part two of your handy dandy guide to this year’s Christmas releases from the likes of Rod Stewart, Blake Shelton, John Travolta & Olivia Newton John.
Complete with helpful recommendations to help you figure out which one will make the perfect stocking stuffer for your parents, your siblings or that hard to shop for uncle.
*Every one of these albums was listened to by our Christmas music-loving writer.
For his first ever Christmas album, Rod sticking to the standards and traditional songs of the season. Keeping with the vibe of his Great American Songbook series, he invites along a few friends to help get you into the spirit. Michael Buble joins Rod for a duet of “Winter Wonderland” while CeeLo pops by for a soulful version of “Merry Christmas, Baby.” With a little studio magic he even gets a chance to join Ella Fitzgerald on “What Are You Doing on New Year’s Eve?”
The real highlight though is Rod’s original track “Red-Suited Super Man,” a ’60s inspired tune which focuses on the joys of seeing Santa.
Perfect for: People who will always think Rod Stewart is sexy
It’s clear Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta had a great time making this album (just look at the album cover), but it’s questionable whether you’ll want to listen to it.
The pair stick to the holiday classics, but too often rely on cheesy bells and whistles like when John tries out his Elvis impression for their rendition of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and Olivia takes on the male part of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” But if there’s any time that one should embrace the cheesiness, it’s Christmas time. So grab that ugly Xmas sweater and some cocoa and turn this one up to 10.
Perfect for: Fans of Battlefield Earth and Xanadu
It’s a good ol’ fashioned country Christmas with Blake Shelton. The Voice judge teams up with his wife, Miranda Lambert for a horn-laden version of “Jingle Bell Rock” and invites Kelly Clarkson to join in on “There’s A New Kid In Town.” While Michael Bublé joins Blake for a Christmas-fied version of the Canadian crooner’s 2005 hit “Home,” it’s Reba who grabs our attention with the two-steppin’ fun of “Oklahoma Christmas.”
Perfect for: Country line dancing enthusiasts, lovers of reality singing competitions
With Chris Mann’s angelic voice he won America over as a member of Team Christina on the second season of The Voice. He only came in fourth, but his holiday EP has us thinking he was robbed.
His voice is as pure as snow on “O Come Ye Faithful” and on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Chris makes you wish he was making a stop at your house. It’s “O Holy Night” though that makes you wonder if there’s a note on the scale that this guy can’t hit.
For the American Idol winner’s Christmas album he uses his booming bass to tackle the classics. He stays festive for “Holly Jolly Christmas” and goes spiritual for “Christmas in Heaven.” His stab at a holiday classic, “Christmas Comin’ Round Again,” highlights his country twang and makes you want to make amends with anyone you’ve lost touch with over the years.
Perfect for: American Idol fanatics, Josh Turner fans
Holidays Rule by Various Artists
(Courtesy of Hear Music)
This compilation features some familiar names like Paul McCartney along with others you might be glad you learned. The guys of fun. turn “Sleigh Ride” into a spacey hip-hop infused romp while Portland band The Shins change up Sir Paul’s classic, “Wonderful Christmastime” by adding a choir and a ton of jingle bells. The Civil Wars, better known as that band that appears with Taylor Swift on “Safe and Sound” from The Hunger Games soundtrack, turn “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” into a quiet duet.
Some of the best songs on the album will help you ring in 2013 like The Head and the Heart’s folkie version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and a jazzy “Auld Lang Syne” done by violinist Andrew Bird, who plucks away at the classic.
Perfect for: The mix of familiar names and new ones you might want to know make this a must-have addition to your Christmas playlist.
– Shannon Carlin, CBS Local