35 Pop Gifts: A Rockin' Holiday Gift Guide
Seriously, the last thing the music fan on your holiday gift list needs is another pair of headphones -- unless, of course, they're the new "Detox" Beats by Dre. And do they really want that massive boxset of "remastered" albums they already own? Probably not -- but the impressive new Beach Boys and Pink Floyd boxsets are a different story.
How do you know which music gifts are wished for and which ones are ... well, whack? Billboard.com is here to help with our annual holiday guide -- separated in 10 different categories ranging from games, books and movies to rock'n'roll wines, pop star dolls, and even shoes. Follow our advice, and we guarantee your loved ones will have a rockin' holiday.
Most of us can't afford to live like a pop star, but now the ladies in your life can at least smell like one. Looking to add some fire to you life? Beyonce's "Heat" might do the trick. Going for that girl-next-door vibe? Try a spritz of Taylor Swift's "Wonderstruck." Want to unleash your feisty R&B bad girl? Grab a bottle of Rihanna's "Reb'l Fleur." Trying to fulfill some teenage dreams? Justin Bieber's "Someday" is destined to make all the boys smile. Whichever you choose to wear, you're sure to come up smelling like roses.
Baby, it's cold outside. What better time to curl up with a book than winter, especially with new offerings for the music fan on your list from the artists themselves. Find out what makes socially conscious rapper Common tick in his hardcover memoir, released in September. On the rock end of the spectrum, Pearl Jam celebrated its 20th anniversary this autumn with a blitzkrieg of retrospective goodies, including the extensive, photo-heavy history of the Seattle band "Pearl Jam Twenty" (penned with former Billboard senior editor Jonathan Cohen and writer Mark Wilkerson). Looking for even more about Seattle rock? Check out Mark Yarm's "Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge," which features interviews with members of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and many others. Need something for the pop fan in your life? Journalist Rob Tannenbaum and former Billboard editor Craig Marks' "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution" peers inside the first decade of MTV's existence in this entertaining oral history.
Cody, Bieber and Jackie Dolls
Dozens of musicians have been immortalized in plastic over the decades, and this holiday season, a few more young stars join the Pop Doll Pantheon. Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson just released his own action figure (which comes in both "clean-cut" and "club-ready" outfits), while classical cutie Jackie Evancho's doll is so lifelike, it can sing you to sleep with its rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star." But the ultimate stocking stuffer this year is the new line of Justin Bieber dolls. Not only do the plastic heartthrobs croon one of Biebs' recent hits ("U Smile," "Never Say Never," "Never Let You Go"), they also boast a head of realistic hair you can comb and style. Even better than the real thing? Not quite… but they're sure fun to play with.
Grateful Dead, AC/DC & Motörhead Wines
While Grateful Dead fans are known more for their preference of another vice, the new "Steal Your Face" red wine may be just the thing for the Deadhead uncle on your list. Taking its name and inspiration from the Dead's 1976 live double album, the "Steal Your Face" 2009 red blend is the latest in the Mendocino Wine Company's Wines That Rock line. Like the other selections in the Wines the rock line -- including the Police's "Synchronicity" Red Wine Blend, Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Rolling Stones' "Forty Licks" Merlot -- the cherry-tinged Grateful Dead wine runs $50 for three bottles.
The Dead are far from the only rockers with their own wine. New additions in late 2011 include the Motorhead Shiraz and AC/DC's line of four aptly-named wines ("Back In Black" Shiraz, "You Shook Me All Night Long" Moscato, "Highway To Hell" Cabernet Sauvignon, "Hells Bells" Sauvignon Blanc), all Australian wines and unfortunately, not for sale stateside just yet.
Documentary & Live DVDs
Who doesn't want to relive monumental musical moments? Artists from Beyoncé to Pearl Jam know we do. B and Taylor Swift are giving fans a chance to experience their recent sold-out concerts with a virtual front row courtesy of new live DVDs. Beyoncé's 'Live at the Roseland': Elements of 4' deluxe DVD blends behind-the-scenes footage with the best of her four night stand this summer at NYC's Roseland Ballroom. Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now World Tour Live' disc catches the singer during her whirlwind year onstage.
A Tribe Called Quest and Pearl Jam, meanwhile, are the subject of lauded, intimate looks into their careers, lives and legacies. The Michael Rapaport-directed documentary "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" was an official selection at this year's Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, while the Cameron Crowe-directed "Pearl Jam Twenty" doc had its gala premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Now you can bring home both on DVD.
Beats By Dre Headphones
Beats by Dre headphones, the brainchild of Dr. Dre and Interscope/Geffen Records honcho Jimmy Iovine, have six versions, including the in-ear headphones inspired by Billboard chart-stoppers such as Lady Gaga, Diddy and of course, the Dr. himself. This time last year, Beats by Dre introduced JustBeats ($199.95 available at beatsbydre.com), inspired by the man of the hour, Justin Bieber. But the now clearly must-have headphone brand has something special in store for this holiday season. Starting this month, Beats has released Beats Wireless On-Ear Headphones ($329.95 available at beatsbydre.com), styled with comfiness and functionality with a built-in Bluetooth and voice and music playback. Black and white is too simple for you? You can also cop their on-ear headphones from their new line of limited edition colors: blue, orange, purple, silver and pink for $349.95 (available at beatsbydre.com). Have an even bigger budget? The limited edition Detox Beats By Dre headphones, which Dre designed himself, are available for $599.95 (available at beatsbydre.com)
Wilco Novelty Gifts
No disrespect to Wilco's new album, "The Whole Love," but the record isn't the most creative thing you can purchase from the Chicago rockers this holiday season. Try, instead, the Wilco dog collar ($35) or a Wilco "freaker" (a one-size-fits-all knitted beverage cozy, $10), perfect for the band's cult-y, "dad rock" audience. The band, which has partnered with Chicago companies like Garrett Popcorn, Intelligentsia Coffee and guitar strap co. Souldier, has enough lifestyle-aimed merchandise to ensure that if there's a task at hand, there's a Wilco-branded product for it. Take, for example, reusable nylon sandwich and snack bags subtly bearing the Wilco name ($8 and $10, respectively, and handmade by Massachusetts company snackTAXI). Specific enough for you? If you're still on the hunt for swag that's cozy rather than utilitarian, try a Wilco futbol-style scarf that pimps "The Whole Love" ($20). But of course, there are still tour shirts and baseball caps, but wouldn't you rather give the gift of Wilco's vinyl record case instead?
Gorillaz and Pearl Jam Sneakers
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars are cool and timeless by any measure, but these Gorillaz Chucks, designed by Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett with elements from the band's artwork just plain rock. They aren't available until February, but you'll be able to preorder them in time to give that special someone on your list something to look forward to come Valentine's day.
Looking for something just as cool and maybe a bit more skater oriented? To celebrate the band's 1991 debut album "Ten," Vans has made Pearl Jam Sk8-Hi high-tops in two styles: red and black plaid flannel (fittingly), and bright yellow and kelly green (the colors of the Seattle Sonics, no less). Both have the band's name stitched in white on the back of the heel and both are available for $65 from Vans.com.
Metal Board Games
What do you get the metal fan who has everything? Grab them a band-themed Monopoly set (AC/DC or Metallica) and crank up some tunes to eleven. Maybe then they'll spend some quality indoor time with you this winter fighting over who gets the Angus School Boy Hat or the Kill 'Em All hammer game pieces or who gets to buy AC/DC Lane.
Beach Boys and Pink Floyd Box Sets
Sometimes you just have to give the gift of music itself. But it's gotta take something really special to mean something to the music fan who buys everything digitally the second it comes out. Cue the old music standby the box set. Super special editions are the name of the game this holiday season. A version of The Beach Boys' lost classic 'Smile' centering on 1966-67 sessions is available as a five disc set ($139.99). Meanwhile the Pink Floyd "Immersion" box of 1973's classic "Dark Side of the Moon" ($109.99) augments and showcases the album with a 1974 Wembly show, 5.1 surround and quad mixes and more. Not enough Floyd? Grab the $180 "Discovery" set. It includes 14 newly remastered Pink Floyd albums (including "Dark Side of the Moon," "Wish You Were Here," and "The Wall"), plus deep-dive liner notes and more.