10 Hottest Holiday Albums of 2012
If it seems like everyone is putting out a Christmas album this year, it's no coincidence: holiday albums have become one of the few surefire ways to still sell music. Not only was Michael Buble's "Christmas" the second biggest seller last year, the top 200 holiday albums sold 11.5 million copies in 2011, compared to 11 million in 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A fresh glut of holiday releases means even more useless renditions of "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow," but with a few original surprises thrown in (Colbie Caillat's surfing-with-Santa "Christmas In The Sand," Carly Rae Jepsen's "Mittens" for the Now That's What I Call Today's Chrismtas" compilation, the mere existence of a John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John Christmas duets album.) So we've sifted through the stacks of potential stocking stuffers to recommend this year's 10 best bets for holiday musical cheer.
| Rod Stewart |
"Merry Christmas, Baby"
It's a good thing that Rod Stewart had a change of heart when working up his first-ever holiday album, "Merry Christmas, Baby." Veteran rocker Stewart told Billboard he once thought "it was beneath me, years ago, to do a Christmas album" but he eventually came to see it as a natural progression from his American Songbook series. Audiences agree: "Merry Christmas, Baby, which features guest appearances by Michael Bublé, Cee Lo Green, Mary J. Blige and more, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 earlier this month. The album's track "Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" has earned Stewart his first No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in more than 19 years.
| Scotty McCreery |
"Christmas with Scotty McCreery"
2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery drew upon his childhood Christmas music favorites when making "Christmas with Scotty McCreery," the young star's first seasonal album. High on his list, Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas." "My favorite Christmas album growing up was Elvis's Christmas Album," he recently told Billboard. "When that song comes on, it's Christmas time." Other highlights on "Christmas with," which bowed in the Billboard 200's top five, include "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and "Jingle Bells." "Christmas In Heaven," which McCreery calls his "favorite song on the record" because it makes him think of his grandfather, is nothing short of a first-class tearjerker.
"Christmas In The Sand"
| "A Very Special Christmas: 25 Years" |
Commemorating the quarter-century anniversary of the first all-star compilation, which united the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Madonna, U2 and Bob Seger in support of the Special Olympics, Big Machine has compiled a diverse lineup of stars for the latest edition. Country stars Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride and Vince Gill all contribute new recordings, as does Train, Jordin Sparks and even K-Poppers the Wonder Girls. Most fun of all, however, is Cheap Trick's "I Want You For Christmas," a holiday rewrite of their own "I Want You To Want Me" (sample lyric: "didn't I, didn't I, didn't I say I want you for Christmas?")
Cee Lo Green
"Cee Lo's Magic Moment"
| "Holidays Rule" |
Starbucks and superstar music supervisors Search Party teamed up for this hipster holiday compilation, which collects 17 eclectic Christmas covers from the likes of The Shins ("Wonderful Christmastime"), fun. ("Sleigh Ride"), The Civil Wars ("I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"), Eleanor Friedberger ("Santa, Bring My Baby Back To Me") and a rare holiday chestnut from Sir Paul McCartney ("The Christmas Song," natch) featuring Diana Krall on piano and John Pizzarelli on guitar. Extra props to Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten, who turn in a delightfully non-creepy "Baby It's Cold Outside."
"Cheers, It's Christmas"
"A Very Merry Perri Christmas"
"On This Winter's Night"
"Silver & Gold"