Because as charming as Burl Ives can be, it’s tough to let your holly down and your jolly loose when you’re partying to the exact same Christmas music your parents went for a roll under the tree to (September babies! WHOO!) Our music correspondent, Tim Johnstone, has assembled a new standard for holiday mixes. All of it is current or even brand spanking new, with a mix of singles and albums to get you from first eggnog to taking down the mistletoe. Your additions are welcome in the comments section.
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “Naughty Naughty”
Vermont’s ascendant Queen of Rock and Roll delivers this gritty blues influenced barn-burner in a manner that suggests she knows a little something about being naughty. Capable of thawing any brittle winter chill. (From Christmas with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals)
Scott Weiland – The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
An irony-free squirm-inducing croontastic disaster. Occasionally hilarious, always ridiculous, this instantly qualifies as one of the worst ideas ever. The must give White Elephant gift of the holiday party season.
Michael Buble – Christmas
Because if there’s one time of the year when an old fashion crooner with a sense of humor and the levity needed to pull this sort of thing off is called for, it’s the holidays. And Buble is the best at the moment. This is the go-to holiday collection of the year, capable of winning over Grandmas and Grinches alike.
Lyle Lovett – “The Girl With The Holiday Smile”
Whereupon the former Mister Julia Roberts channels Randy Newman with this West Texas flavored ditty about a Christmas prostitute. If you’re a Lyle Lovett fan, you know exactly what to expect and you’ll wonder why we haven’t heard this before now.
She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas
The current It (New) Girl Zooey Deschanel elevates the profile of her indie rock retro-pop outfit (alongside M. Ward) with a holiday collection that is nothing if not brazenly cheerful.
Fitz & The Tantrums – Santa Stole My Old Lady
L.A.’s current ambassadors of flashback grooves and party vibes serve up a yuletide warning about the fat man in the red suit. Yes, there are horns.
Various Artists – Noel! Noel!! Noel!!!
For the Francophile on your holiday list, this new collection from legendary pianist and arranger Michel Legrand features appropriately grandiose big band and swing versions of classic holiday songs with the help of Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, Rufus Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, France’s first lady Carla Bruni, and Mika. Oui! Oh, and Iggy Pop on “Little Drummer Boy.” You read that right.
The Killers – (RED) Christmas ep
The annual holiday singles from the band that seems to be ready made for stadiums have been gathered in this digital ep. While this year’s “The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball” is uncomfortably hokey, “A Great Big Sled” remains one of those rare contemporary Christmas songs that is much bigger and better than the season that defines it.
Matisyahu – Miracle (ep)
NYC’s Hasidic Jewish reggae/hip hop/alternative rock star delivers a joyful and uplifiting celebration for Chanukah, six times over.
Annie Lennox – A Christmas Cornucopia
The former Eurythmic lead singer has one of the most radiant voices in music and this holiday collection lets that voice drape itself over often surprising arrangements. A nice mix of traditional Noel selections and classic favorites.
Tim Johnstone is a former Virgin Records Label Rep and current award winning Music Director, Assistant Program Director, and on-air host at FMQB’s AAA station of the year markets 50+. Additions you’d like to see added to this list should go in the comments section below. Top Photo Credit: Luca Sartoni