by Erik Pedersen | Sat., Dec. 18, 2010 7:30 PM
Check it out: Kanye West, Rihanna, Coldplay, Mariah Carey, Killers, Jessica Simpson, Lady Antebellum, Paul Simon and the Glee cast are all doing it this year.
Though Christmas comes just once a year, royalty checks for Christmas CDs come all year round, which may explain why so many holiday anthems are still recorded despite the fact that we have plenty already.
What, too Grinchy?
Maybe we shouldn't complain, because each year we get new holiday music that's worth the fuss, whether it's the Hannaukah-harmonizing Maccabeats. Or a gift-filled online advent calendar courtesy of a bunch of cartoon band Gorillaz. Or, uh, this.
With that in mind, here are some new Christmas offerings for your tasteful Yuletide enjoyment because holiday jams are too sweet to beat.
Kanye West: "Christmas in Harlem" (feat. CyHi Da Prynce)
Dropped just in time for the big day, this sweeping paean to the chilly weather, shopping malls and Santa Claus is no "Dark Twisted Fantasy," but instead a pure delight.
Paul Simon: "Getting Ready for Christmas Day"
He's written songs about camera film ("Kodachrome") and the contents of his spice rack ("Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme") so why not a Christmas song? And though it lacks jingling bells and ho-ho-hos, it's got a wistful vibe that's perfect for those
dreading anticipating a visit with the relatives
Coldplay: "Christmas Lights"
This downbeat anthem about lost love, absent snow and drunken Elvis singers seems to capture the empty feeling the holidays can bring on, which is pretty damn depressing when you think of it. But It's a Wonderful Life is a downer, too, and you like that, so quit complaining.
Rihanna: "A Child Is Born"
This funky tropical take on the holidays is just the kind of thing you'll need to warm your cockles after one too many references to the ice and cold and snow. Also, it'll totally cheer you up after that depressing Coldplay song.
The Puppini Sisters: "Last Christmas"
Now this is a Christmas gift. No disrespect to the Glee kids' version, but a George Michael song performed by three close harmonizing ladies in the style of the Andrews Sisters is just the piece of music to put on to bring all your family together.
Mariah Carey: "Oh, Santa!"
In a holiday season stuffed full of singers—Susan Boyle, Jessica Simpson, Katherine McPhee and Wilson Phillips—one diva shall rule them all. Whether with her mom or on a new tune, Carey makes Christmas classics with emotion, melancholy and lots of vocal gymnastics.
Glee cast: The Christmas Album
If there are songs to be sung, the cast of this TV show will sing them. And which holiday is more tuneful than Christmas? There isn't one (just try to name a Thanksgiving song), so we're pleased to have these Gleeful glad tidings, if only for Chris Colfer and Darren Criss' "Baby It's Cold Outside."
Indigo Girls: Holly Happy Days
Some of us need a quiet Christmas, and this collection fits the bill. The vocal duo harmonize through the holiday classics—including a bluegrass "Happy Joyous Hanukkah"—and a new one "Your Holiday Song" that will put everyone—even pagans!—in the holiday spirit.
Jack Black and Jason Segal: "Little Drummer Boy 2010"
A popular tune this season (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly also have a crack at it), this combines morose feelings, grandiose vocals and a metal guitar solo (rather than, say, a drum solo?). Easy and sweet, but it's no "12 Drugs of Christmas."
Pink Martini: Joy to the World
After all that eggnog, you'll need a Pink Martini to cleanse the palate. This Portland, Ore., group actually makes an album that isn't just background tunes for opening presents. Plus, you get "White Christmas" in Japanese. It's just one of the many delights in this pretty pink package.
Annie Lennox: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman"
With pipes like hers, the former Eurythmics singer could sing this kind of music all-year round and we'd be happy. And she delivers the English Christmas goodies on this new release that mixes classic carols with more modern touches like Autotune. We like it.
Shelby Lynne: Merry Christmas
Laid-back and totally made for repeat listenings, this may be the one we return to the most this year. With good stuff like "Ain't Nothin' Like Christmas" and a bunch of standards, this will make the whole house happy, if only for a little while.
AND TWO LUMPS OF … COAL
Fred Schneider: Destination...Christmas
Who doesn't love the B-52s? Only Christmas-hating cretins. But the singer recorded this disc with a duo called The Superions and, well, songs like "Santa's Disco" are no "Love Shack."
The band has a history of making really good Christmas singles, but its newest epic lacks a hook to hang all that bombast on, which makes for kind of a saggy single. Still, it's for a worthy cause, so dissenters can go Scrooge themselves.
Which ones do you love—or hate?
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