It’s Christmas Music Time, Heavy on the Country & Queens
It’s that time of year again and the holiday albums are trickling out this season. Many of the new albums are coming from some newcomers to holiday music world.
The Big News Items for this years crop of Holiday Albums was Sia’s late released Holiday album. The album chopped full of original songs but after listening to the album a few times, there are some great songs but almost all of them are made with the same formula that Sia is known for. Bottom line, if your family loves to dance during the holidays for fun or no reason at all, this is the album for you. Ho Ho Ho and Everyday is Christmas are already hitting the airwaves. My personal pick from the album is Candy Lane with it’s catchy do-op hook. Not totally sure why this album took so long to drop.
My top pick this season is hands down Fantasia’s Christmas After Midnight album. Have to say, there is not a single song on this album that doesn’t pull at your blues heart strings. The highlights include This Christmas and In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning but I am also sucker for that rare holiday song that is rarely recorded. Her renditions of Give Love on Christmas Day is perfect and already climbing the charts. This is a must buy this holiday season.
Gwen Stefani has finally made her holiday album debit this year with her new album You Make It Feel Like Christmas. The album is now available and of course includes a duet with her beau Blake Shelton. Bottom line, the album is entertaining but too heavy on the tamborine. Jingle Bells probably the only song that had me excited but that was squashed when Stefani butchered Silent Night. That said her ode to Last Christmas is worth of holiday party play list.
In the Classical Relm, there is the headliner violinist Lindsey Stirling and her first holiday album. The energy level of her pieces are fun and exciting. The highlight is all of her instrumental pieces but her duets with Tamoborine Shorty and Becky G are the albums highlights. Original track written by Stirling, Warmer in the Winter is already on my 2017 Holiday playlist.
Another great holiday album from the Classical work is The Berlin Philharmonic’s The Christmas Album, which has been released in a deluxe edition. While not classic pieces like Greensleeves or Silent Night, the album is filled great pieces to play during your holiday dinners. From greats like Vivaldi & Torelli the album sadly only features one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s amazing pieces.
Joyeux Noël: French Christmas Music, this French Christmas album features many artists in the classical music world and I can't believe I have never featured a classical over the past couple of years. Who says you have to wait until church to hear classical choral music during the holidays.
Christmas Queens 3 is a Triple Threat this holiday season. The ladies from RuPaul’s Ladies first Holiday Album was a GAS! Followed by heavy giggles in 30 tracks. This year many of the 2016 album ladies are back but joined by newcomers Peppermint & Thorny Thor. Also joining the gang are legends Jackie Beat & Sherry Vine. This new album also come with a 60 minute movie from last years concert tour. The ladies will be back on tour again this year with 24 stops from the US to Europe and right back to the US. Highlights are Alaska Thunderfucks’s Angles We Heard on High and Thorny Thor’s God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen on violin. The crowning glory and it’s downloading while we speak, is Michelle Visage’s Silent Night, while the keyboard action is wonky at times. Michelle’s voice was sweet end to the album.
In the Country world of music, the options are a little slim. Someone forgot to tell Blake Shelton that releasing a similar album to your significant other, is just plum shady! The orchestral arrangement most the whole album is pretty stale but I have to give Shelton props on dragging Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire and Michael Bublé. All three stole the show for ever duet they appeared, mad applause for Reba and Kelly!
Riding on Blake’s coat tails into holiday album season, Reba McEntire released her third holiday album My Kind of Christmas. The album is about as simple and pure you can get in the studio, with a lot of the songs being accompanied with just a piano. Reba pulled in similar friends to Shelton into the studio but the highlight is Mary Did You Know which she sang with Shelton (who sounds better than his whole album) and the amazing Amy Grant. Grant stole this song from the other two and bought the song while it was playing.
Josh Groban reissue his 2007 Noël album with a few new additions and inclusion of his hit Believe from the The Polar Express soundtrack. Of course I melted when I heard him sing and just play the piano for Have Yourself a Merry Christmas, already downloaded and on my 2017 playlist. Groban spent his money wisely and hired an orchestra and choir for Happy Xmas, Lennon would be proud of this rendition.
From the great white way, I am adding the summer release of the Broadway revival of Irving Berlin’s musical Holiday Inn which had a short run on Broadway back in 2016 during the holidays by the Roundabout Theater Company. The album dropped back in June and I am adding it for it’s great mix of such songs like Holiday Inn/Happy Holiday & It’s A Lovely Day Today. Sadly there were some misses in the show like their rendition of Heatwave.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Chanté Moore’s debut album. This season she’s releasing her first holiday LP titled Christmas Back To You. The album as a whole is mishmash of beat R&B but the shinning crown of the album is her single Christmas Time in L.A.