Do you hear what I hear?
With Christmas just weeks away, the sounds of the holiday season are ringing from public address systems and radio stations across the land. Fulfilling the seasonal need for holiday music, consumers have a big crop of new Christmas releases and reissues from which to choose.
This year’s more interesting offerings include Heart’s duet with Aaron Neville of Charles Brown’s classic Christmas blues, “Please Come Home for Christmas”; “Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas,” from the cast of the Monroe-set reality TV series, “Duck Dynasty”; an album of holiday favorites done punk-rock style by Bad Religion; and a unique Christmas collection from country star Trace Adkins.
Many of the 2013 class of Christmas releases are listed below.
Alabama THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Of course, the latest holiday collection from country band Alabama opens with “Christmas In Dixie.” The regional holiday flavor continues with “Tennessee Christmas” and Alabama originals “When It Comes To Christmas” and “The Blessings.”
Trace Adkins KING’S GIFT
A musical departure for Trace Adkins, the first Christmas album from the country star features Celtic music and American folk music influences and instrumentation including weissenborn, mandolin, uilleann pipes, penny whistle, violin, viola, cello, organ and harp. “I am so proud of this Christmas record,” Adkins says, “probably more proud of this than anything that I’ve possibly ever done, with the exception of some of those really deep, profound military songs that pay tribute to heroes. But other than that, for my money, this record has more depth than anything.”
Bad Religion CHRISTMAS SONGS
Veteran Los Angeles punk-rock band Bad Religion performs “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “White Christmas,” “Little Drummer Boy” and more holiday perennials. “Though I’ve never been religious in the slightest,” Bad Religion co-songwriter and guitarist Brett Gurewitz explains, “religious songs have always been extremely poignant to me. Their heartfelt yearning for something more and greater can be very moving.”
Mary J. Blige A MARY CHRISTMAS
Grammy-winning R&B star Mary J. Blige collaborates with producer David Foster for her first holiday album. “Working with David Foster is a singer’s dream,” Blige says. “I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to make this soulful classic Christmas album with him.” Blige interprets classic “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” and joins guests Barbra Streisand for “You Wish Upon A Star,” Jessie J in “Do You Hear What I Hear” and Mark Anthony in a Spanish-language rendition of “Silent Night.”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS TIME
For this exclusive from Amazon, Los Angeles retro-swingsters Big Bad Voodoo Daddy put jump and jive in “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Run, Rudolph, Run” and 10 more.
Susan Boyle HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Late-blooming singing star Susan Boyle’s fifth studio album, “Home for Christmas,” includes duets featuring the Scottish songstress with Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley. “To sing with Elvis, well, I didn’t think it would be possible,” Boyle said of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” “Isn’t technology brilliant? I grew up with Elvis playing in my home. My father was a huge fan. This song is for him and his love of Elvis.”
Moya Brennan AN IRISH CHRISTMAS
Originally released in 2006, Moya Brennan’s “An Irish Christmas” returns with five newly inspired songs. Brennan is a member of the Irish group Clannad and sister of singer Enya.
Tamar Braxton WINTER LOVERSLAND
Singer and reality TV star Tamar Braxton performs “Sleigh Ride,” “Santa Baby,” “Merry Christmas Darling” and more.
Johnny Cash THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM
This compilation gathers songs from two classic albums by the spiritual country star, 1963’s “The Christmas Spirit” and 1972’s “Johnny Cash Family Christmas.” Cash sings solo and with June Carter Cash, Tommy Cash, the Cash Family and the Carter Family and Statler Brothers.
Celtic Woman HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
This CD/DVD package features the Irish songstresses of Celtic Woman performing with the Irish Film Orchestra and the Irish Philharmonic Choir. Holiday standards get some Celtic music touches.
Kelly Clarkson WRAPPED IN RED
Kelly Clarkson’s first Christmas album includes new songs for the season “Underneath The Tree” and “Wrapped In Red,” classics such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and renditions of Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph” and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas.”
Neil Diamond THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Featuring standards “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “Sliver Bells” and nine more selections, this compilation draws from Diamond’s 1992, 1994 and 2009 Christmas albums.
Duck Dynasty Cast DUCK THE HALLS: A ROBERTSON FAMILY CHRISTMAS
The stars of the Monroe-set hit TV series “Duck Dynasty” do Christmas “Duck Dynasty” style. Willie Robertson sings a country-rock number he composed with songwriter Dallas Davidson, “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas.” “Hairy Christmas” features Robertson in a duet with hunting buddy and country star Luke Bryan. Phil Robertson and George Strait serve “Christmas Cookies.” Missy Robertson sings a faithful rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
Gladys Knight & The Pips The Classic Christmas Album
The soul vocal group led by Gladys Knight sings standards plus two selections with Johnny Mathis.
Vince Guaraldi CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
A remastered and expanded CD edition of 1965’s classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album, this “Snoopy Doghouse Edition” is housed in a sleeve that folds out to form a replica of Snoopy’s colorfully decorated canine residence. The package also contains cut-out replicas of Peanuts characters Linus, Lucy, Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
Heart with Aaron Neville
PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS/ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT
For this digital-only release, Ann and Nancy Wilson, aka Heart, join Aaron Neville for Charles Brown’s R&B classic, “Please Come Home for Christmas.” “I have loved Aaron Neville’s amazing, soulful voice since I was a teenager,” Ann Wilson says. “He truly has a gift and is a sweet person.” The Wilson sisters also perform a new arrangement of “All Through the Night,” a traditional Welsh folksong featuring backing vocals from Richard Marx.
Heart HEART PRESENTS A LOVEMONGERS CHRISTMAS
This reissue from Heart includes “Here Is Christmas,” “Christmas Waits” and 10 more.
Human Nature DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS
For this digital-only release, Australian pop-vocal quartet Human Nature sings original holiday songs “Christmas Without You,” “Please Come Home For Christmas” with special guest Smokey Robinson, standards “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and more.
Il Volo BUON NATALE: THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Il Volo features young Italian tenors Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble. The trio performs such Christmas favorites as “I’ll Be Home For Christmas, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “O Holy Night” and more.
Jewel LET IT SNOW: A HOLIDAY COLLECTION
Grammy-winning singer Jewel offers a holiday mix of jazz, classical, vintage pop and her trademark acoustic-pop.
George Jones And Tammy Wynette THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Christmas is given a classic country twist. George Jones and Tammy Wynette perform duets “Mr. and Mrs. Claus” and “The Greatest Christmas Gift.” Jones and Wynette otherwise sing solo selections, including Jones’ “Lonely Christmas Call” and Wynette’s “One Happy Christmas.”
Lady Antebellum ON THIS WINTER’S NIGHT
In this DVD/Blu-ray, country trio Lady Antebellum perform with a 40-piece orchestra in Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. In addition to performances of “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and the Lady Antebellum original, “On This Winter’s Night,” the group members share their Christmas stories, memories and traditions.
Leona Lewis CHRISTMAS, WITH LOVE
British pop singer Leona Lewis sings seasonal favorites and three newly written holiday selections.
Nick Lowe QUALITY STREET: A SEASONAL SELECTION FOR ALL THE FAMILY
British singer-songwriter’s Nick Lowe’s holiday collection offers Lowe originals, traditional hymns and overlooked gems, including a rockabilly-styled “Children Go Where I Send Thee” and bopping “Hooves on the Roof.”
Mannheim Steamroller CHRISTMAS SYMPHONY II
Mannheim Steamroller creator Chip Davis returns with “Christmas Symphony II.”
Martina McBride THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Country star Martina McBride sings holiday standards, including “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “White Christmas” and a duet with Elvis Presley of “Blue Christmas.”
Johnny Mathis SENDING YOU A LITTLE CHRISTMAS
Johnny Mathis released his first holiday album, “Merry Christmas,” in 1958. More Christmas albums followed that huge success, including 1963’s “The Sounds of Christmas” and 1984’s “Johnny Mathis For Christmas.” “Sending You A Little Christmas” is the singer’s sixth album of newly recorded holiday music. His first album of holiday duets, it includes guest appearances by Susan Boyle, Natalie Cole, Gloria Estefan, married vocalists Vince Gill and Amy Grant, and Billy Joel.
Kate Nash HAVE FAITH WITH KATE NASH THIS CHRISTMAS
Available from iTunes, Kate Nash’s Christmas EP co-stars the British pop singer’s all-girl three-piece punk band, The Tuts. Opening song “I Hate You This Christmas” takes aim at bad boyfriends and best friends who behave badly. Blending pop, punk and ’60s music, the EP includes a cappella performances and traditional instrumentals.
The New Christy Minstrels MERRY CHRISTMAS! THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA CHRISTMAS RECORDINGS 1963-1966
This 28-track collection combines two albums by the 1960s folk music group plus five bonus tracks.
The Piano Guys A FAMILY CHRISTMAS
A CD/DVD package features new takes on “Let it Snow,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Silent Night,” two original compositions from Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson and more.
ON A COLD WINTER’S DAY: EARLY CHRISTMAS MUSIC & CAROLS FROM THE BRITISH ISLES
Traditional selections from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France.
Restless Heart RESTLESS HEART CHRISTMAS
The first Christmas collection from country group Restless Heart includes “Tennessee Christmas,” “Season of Harmony,” a rendition of Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” and standards “O Holy Night” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Mindy Smith SNOWED IN
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Mindy Smith’s second holiday release, “Snowed In,” contains original compositions “Tomorrow Is Christmas Day” and “Snowed In” plus standards “What Child Is This,” “Auld Lang Syne” and “Silent Night.”
Straight No Chaser UNDER THE INFLUENCE: HOLIDAY EDITION
A cappella group Straight No Chaser and guests perform “Wonderful Christmastime” (featuring Paul McCartney), “White Christmas” (with Cee Lo Green), “Merry Christmas Baby” (with Otis Redding), “Every Day Is Christmas” (with Colbie Caillat) and more.
Barbra Streisand THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM
This 16-track compilation features recordings from Barbra Streisand’s 1967 album “A Christmas Album” and her 2001 release, “Christmas Memories.” The beautifully arranged selections include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” and the Johnny Mandel- and Alan and Marilyn Bergman-composed “A Christmas Love Song.”
Various Artists ICON: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS
The ICON edition of “A Very Special Christmas” features selections from the most popular songs from earlier “A Very Special Christmas” collections, including Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas,” John Lennon And Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” Sting’s “I Saw Three Ships” and Sheryl Crow’s “Run Rudolph Run.”
Various Artists NOW CHRISTMAS
This 36-song, two-CD package features stars of yesterday and today, including Kelly Clarkson, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Bieber, Jean-Pierre Rampal and the Beach Boys.
Various Artists THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY
The soundtrack CD for the hit film includes Anthony Hamilton and Marsha Ambrosius’ duet of Stevie Wonder’s “As,” Ne-Yo crooning “I Want To Come Home for Christmas,” Emeli Sandé at the piano for “Winter Wonderland,” John Legend offering “Shelter” and R. Kelly’s “Christmas I’ll Be Steppin’.”
Various Artists PUNK GOES CHRISTMAS
Fearless Records and MusiCares, the Recording Academy organization established to provide help to music people in need, are partners for “Punk Goes Christmas.” The set list includes New Found Glory’s “Nothing for Christmas,” All Time Low’s “Fool’s Holiday,” Real Friends’ “I Had a Heart” and Yellowcard’s “Christmas Lights.”
Various Artists FESTIVUS 2
This indie-pop compilation sequel includes the Western Lows’ “Silent Night,” Glam Chops’ “Baby Jesus Was the First Glam Rocker,” the Priscillas’ “One Christmas Wish,” and Francis Macdonald (of Teenage Fanclub) with Anna Sheard’s “Silver Bells Sing Their Chime.”
Andy Williams THE ANDY WILLIAMS CHRISTMAS ALBUM
With his smooth crooning and amiable personality, Andy Williams was a popular performer, recording artist and host of his own NBC variety show. His classic Christmas recording, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” remains a staple of holiday season radio.
Gretchen Wilson CHRISTMAS IN MY HEART
After selling eight million albums and sending 13 songs into the Billboard country charts, Gretchen Wilson releases a Christmas album containing new Christmas songs and holiday chestnuts.