2015 Holiday Music Review
It's not Christmas/Holiday Album release season without those good old people at Mannheim Steamroller coming out with a new album. Does it make my list this year? No! Neither does Brandi Glanville’s ex-husbands wife’s album either, nope, #TeamBrandi on this blog!!!!!
While it’s slim picking this year in the field of holiday albums, the powerhouse voices this season goes to all of the Christian singers/bands who came out in force this holiday season with some pretty great albums. Right now iTunes is pushing Chris Tomlin’s album Adorewhich comes out October 23, 2015. I previewed a few songs and I found other albums that outshine this one.
Missing this season are any heavy hitters from any of the big factions of music, (pop, rock, hip hop or even vocal artists.) This seems to be the season of reissues of old classics with 1959 being the big winner. For all of you who were jumping for joy earlier this year on the news that Mariah Carrey was coming out with a new album. Sadly the lady doesn’t work as hard as she use to, looks like no new holiday album for the little butterfly this 2015 holiday season.
My hope is we get some really sweet singles pop up late in the game, like Sam Smith’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” which floored me last year and would have made the top of my list year. Still hoping this gorgeous man comes out with holiday album some day.
I have to give the big-flop award to Ann Hampton Callaway’s holiday album The Hope of Christmas. Between the downer vocals and leaning towards the floor orchestra, give us a big snooze of album that at times wish you had left the gas on the over going. Listening to the album felt my head slow falling down, either because I was falling asleep or it was just dragging me down. So Ann, holiday music isn’t your forte.
Campfire Christmas Volume 1 - Rend Collective
This album I placing at the top of my list because it reminds us of our friends Nancy and Adam and their huge collection of holiday vinyl. This album would certainly fit well in that mix. The band hails from Ireland and found it’s roots in the christian and filk rock world throughout Europe. This, their first holiday album was actually released in Europe back in November 2014 (way to late for a US release, who in their right mind would buy holiday music after Thanksgiving.) I like this album because it really stands in the folk realm of music. And while the main singer does have raspy male voice which gives each song some soul the orchestral pairing is different from one song to the next.
Once Again It's Christmas by Kenny Rogers
I am bias when it comes to Kenny Rogers, the man has a direct line to Dolly so he gets automatic vote for must get album for the holidays. Of course the album lives up to it’s Nashville roots offering great duets with Jim Brickman and Alison Krauss. It so happens Krauss’s duet “Some Children See Him” is one of my top picks from this album. Another great song is the Drummer Boy, the song keeps with tradition but the choral pairing with Rogers makes for a special rendition.
A Winters Romance - Dean Martin
This album gets the honorable mention for being rereleased. The original album was released in 1959 and I remember hearing at my grammie’s house during the holidays as well as my parents. This was the first album where Martin had recorded the song “ Baby it’s Cold Outside", which was originally written in 1944 by the songwriting couple Frank Loesser and Lynn Garland. The couple performed the song at personal parties and charity events. The song wouldn’t become mainstream until 1949 when MGM (who bought the rights a year earlier) put it into a Esther Williams movie Neptune’s Daughter. Another great thing about this album is that Martin really reached to give some alternatives for holidays songs with such hits as "I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" and "June in January”
Merry Christmas From Vienna - Vienna Boys Choir
No I am not talking about the album featuring Michael Bolton and Placid Domingo! Rather the Vienna Boys Choir’s new album also titled Merry Christmas from Vienna. The young choral group celebrated it’s 70th anniversary last year and this year they have released a new album. I am big sucker for holiday choral music and especially when it’s coming from the this chorus. Interesting tidbit, did you know that there is actually a Vienna Girls Choir? I wish I could give you more about the album but they have this album all tied up in chains till 10/23/15.
It’s Christmas - MercyMe
What’s Christmas without a little christian/country in it’s heart? MercyMe is a christian music band and I will have to give them great praise for a modern but not to wild rendition to many holiday classics. "Joy to the World” is probably one of the most powerful songs on the album. The album drops on October 9th, 2015. The band has been on the charts since 1994 and 10 years ago they did their first holiday album release to great praise. The album held such duets with Amy Grant, I love me some Amy Grant early 90’s. Interesting coincidence, MercyMe’s holiday album in 2005 dropped the same time as Steven Curtis Chapman (another christian artist) and here in 2015 they’ve both come out with albums at the same time. They also happened to tour together as well during that same holiday season, I could have researched a tour but I’ve got to move on with this post.
KYLIE CHRISTMAS - Kylie Minogue
Your favorite dance music diva has placed her name on the holiday album turnstile. The album has 16 songs but if your purchase the deluxe version you will receive a total of 22 songs. Kylie of course is kicking off the album release with a concert at Albert Hall. Which I am sure is going to be an extra special show because, Kylie doesn’t do anything half-ass. Sadly at the time of me writing this post, I didn’t get a chance to listen to any of the songs. But lets face it, Kylie is one of the few ladies out there who doesn’t release any album that doesn’t have a top hit or memorable song. The perks of purchasing the deluxe version is you get not just one but two duets with her little sister Dannii (a personal favorite). Oh, and she also did a duet with Iggy Pop.
WILDE WINTER SONGBOOK - Kim Wilde
While the electric keyboard work in this album is a little heavy, there are few cute songs. Two songs that really catched interest was “Rock’n Around the Christmas Tree” a duet with Nik Kershaw and “Hey Mister Snowman” which has a little 50’s sock-hop sound to it. The surprise track on the album is her duet with Rick Astley, yes you read that correct, the never “Never Gonna Give You Up” singer. As for her rendition of “Have Your Self A Merry Christmas” (my all-time favorite song) it’s a decent rendition but not super memorable.
Must-Have Holiday Albums
Speaking of Placido Domingo, the great tenor has a new holiday album coming out titled My Christmas but it didn’t make my list. Instead I am going to do something new this year and highlight two oldie albums that were hits in their day and still memorable today.
First up is the album that started it all. It’s the album that brought us the concert pairing of such songstresses as Natalie Cole, Sarah Brighten and Dionne Warwick with the great tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. The first Christmas in Vienna album with the legendary Diana Ross. She was the first and she set that bar really high for the ladies to follow. There are so many great song on this album but “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is a personal favorite.
The second choice, only second because I want to finish with a bang. Goes to the incredible Dolly Parton and her Home for Christmas which was released in 1990. Oddly enough, this was the first Dolly CD I purchased when I was a young sprout. So many great songs from this album and I could have gone with the original holiday album she recorded with Kenny Rogers in 1984 but this album is pure Dolly. The re-release in 2004 included a few duets from her album with Rogers.
Joe Perry (Guitarist from Aerosmith) recorded 4 holiday songs and calls it a Album. If you had mustered up 10 more songs I would have probably added you to my list.
Sarah McLachlan does another holiday album with the same songs she did 10 years ago. The album sounds like she took the vocal recordings and just pasted them to new orchestral arrangements.
Neil Diamond has also re-released 5 of his holiday albums, someone has a new house to build!