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Need a little Christmas? The jingle hop has begun

November 8, 2017
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If you’re looking for a bit of musical inspiration to put you in a holiday mood this year, take a gander at some of these new high-profile Christmas-themed titles designed to have you dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square. 

Sia – “Everyday is Christmas” (Atlantic/Monkey Puzzle)

The Australian artist’s eighth album is an all-original affair comprised of 10 new holiday-themed songs co-written and co-produced with Greg Kurstin (Pink, Beck, Foo Fighters). Lead single “Santa’s Coming For Us” is as infectious a holiday song as we’re likely to hear this year. Overlook the grammar issue in the title and give this one a chance.

Gwen Stefani – “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” (Interscope)

Her last album (2016’s “This Is What The Truth Feels Like”) debuted at number one on the Billboard chart with 76,000 units sold in the first week. Stefani’s first Christmas album, released on Oct. 6, debuted at number 51, with a mere 9,000 copies sold. This 50/50 mix of originals and holiday standards deserves a better showing. Stefani collaborated with country superstar hubby Blake Shelton on the Motown-inspired title song, which also appears on the new version of Shelton’s 2012 holiday album “Cheers, It’s Christmas.”

Lindsey Stirling – “Warmer in the Winter” (Lindseystomp/Universal)

If listening to this brilliant violinist and composer’s first holiday album doesn’t warm your figgy pudding, you might want to have it checked. Put some wood on the fire, drop a cinnamon stick in your mulled cider, slip into your L.L. Bean moccasins and fill the house with this mix of Christmas-themed instrumentals and vocals. Guests include Sabrina Carpenter, Becky G., Trombone Shorty, and Alex Gaskarth.

Cheap Trick – “Christmas Christmas” (Big Machine)

Three originals appear alongside a mix of yuletide tunes originally recorded by some of this Rockford, Illinois band’s heroes, including The Kinks, Chuck Berry, Roy Wood, Charles Brown, Harry Nilsson, Slade and The Ramones. Jimmy Fallon’s ode to the latter, “I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” is a highlight, as is the surprisingly tender original “Our Father of Life.” Unfortunately, much of the record suffers from overproduction. Good Christmas music can be fun, nostalgic, inspiring, silly or serious. This one aims for fun but lands somewhere in the vicinity of “sonic punch to the head.”

Fantasia – “Christmas After Midnight” (Concord)

The 2004 American Idol winner’s first Christmas album is an engagingly soulful affair, comprised solely of cover songs by Donny Hathaway, James Brown, Nat “King” Cole, Bobby Helms, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Cohen, and others. The spare production, emphasizing Fantasia’s voice, seems to be the objective, and it works. The highlight: CeeLo Green duets with Fantasia on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

Hanson – “Finally It’s Christmas” (3CG Records)

The Hanson brothers mark 25 years in the music biz with their second holiday-themed collection. The trio’s innate pop sensibilities guide them through 14 tracks of pure, unadulterated, Christmas fun. Another hybrid of cover songs and originals, this is one of the most enjoyable listens of the season and one that you will likely want to spin many Christmases from now. 

The Beatles – “The Christmas Records” (Apple)

Between 1963 and 1969, The Beatles kept up a holiday tradition of recording special messages, songs, skits, silliness, and surreality, and sending the results to members of their fan club as free flexi-disc records. With the band deep in post-breakup litigation by Christmas 1970, Apple compiled all seven recordings on a full-length LP, and that too was distributed free to fans. For the first time, the recordings will see commercial release next month, in a limited-edition box set of colored vinyl singles, alongside a 16-page booklet of notes and recording info. Listen to the messages consecutively and you hear the arc of The Beatles’ career. At Christmastime in 1963, they were a four-headed monster that was weeks away from storming America. Six years later, they recorded their contributions separately.

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