With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas rapidly approaching, the holiday season is in full swing, and here at the Billboard offices that means one thing: new holiday music!
Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas (Deluxe Anniversary Edition)
Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas turned 25 this year, and the undisputed queen of Christmas made the occasion extra-festive by releasing a deluxe anniversary edition of the now-classic holiday album. All the hits are here — from the sleighbell-punctuated yearing of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and the snow-dusted longing of “Miss You Most (At Christmastime)” to, of course, the timeless effervesce of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” — but the two-disc set also sheds new light on the arrangements thanks to live recordings from Mimi’s 1994 concert at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine.
In addition, the anniversary release includes Carey’s take on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” available for the first time in the U.S., as well as an interlude of The Nutcracker’s “Sugar Plum Fairy” that puts the star’s gravity-defying whiste tone to good use.
Jonas Brothers, “Like It’s Christmas”
For their first Christmas single since 2008’s “Joyful Kings” — not to mention “Girl of My Dreams” from 2007’s Disney Channel Holiday — Jonas Brothers lean into the romance of the holiday season on the swinging “Like It’s Christmas.” As Joe and Nick trade duties on lead vocals, the Bros paint visions of twinkling lights and a snow-covered Central Park before declaring, “You make every day feel like it’s Christmas/ Every day when I’m with you.” First thing on every JoBros fan’s wishlist, indeed.
Lea Michele, Christmas in the City
Over the course of her six years on Glee, Lea Michele covered enough Christmas songs to comprise four seperate volumes of Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album. Her first solo holiday LP would still do Rachel Berry proud, offering up appropriately buoyant, saccharine renditions of standards like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Silver Bells” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
She also gives fan service to latent Gleeks by teaming up with former cast mates Darren Criss and Jonathan Groff on duets of “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and — while not expressly Christmas-theme — includes a melancholy take on Frozen‘s “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?”
John Legend, A Legendary Christmas: Deluxe Edition
John Legend may have released A Legendary Christmas just last year, but he’s already regifting the LP this Christmas season with four additional tracks. Most significant of the new songs is his woke reworking of the controversial “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which puts consent and chivalry front and center (complete with an “it’s your body and your choice” lyric) as he teams up with fellow The Voice coach Kelly Clarkson.
Also included are Legend’s stellar faithful take on “This Christmas,” Broadway-classic-turned-inexplicable-holiday-song “My Favorite Things” and an appropriately jazzy cover of Louis Armstrong‘s “Christmas in New Orleans.”
Kacey Musgraves, The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show
Following up 2016’s A Very Kacey Christmas, Kacey Musgraves will headline Amazon’s first holiday special, The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, on Nov. 29. Premiering exclusively on Amazon Prime, the special will feature performances by the country star alongside the likes of Camila Cabello (“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”), Leon Bridges (“Present Without a Bow”) and Lana Del Rey (“I’ll Be Home For Christmas”).
Narrated by Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy, the show also promises the world premiere of new Troye Sivan track “Glittery,” a dance performance by the iconic Radio City Rockettes and cameo appearances by Kendall Jenner and none other than Musgraves’ very own grandmother. Check back soon to hear the music from the special.
Pentatonix, The Best of Pentatonix Christmas
Combining highlights from their four Christmas projects over the years, Pentatonix‘s new album, The Best of Pentatonix Christmas, reads like a veritable greatest hits collection of holiday classics.
From previously-released collabs with Tori Kelly (“Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy,” and Jazmine Sullivan (“Joyful, Joyful” from Sister Act 2) to Kelly Clarkson (“Grown-Up Christmas List”) and Maren Morris (“When You Believe”), the album’s guest features are stellar, though nothing tops the quintet’s new, post-humous duet with Whitney Houston on “Do You Hear What I Hear?” featuring the late icon’s vocals from an unearthed 2004 recording of the song.
Idina Menzel, Christmas: A Season of Love
Idina Menzel‘s second holiday album (following 2014’s Holiday Wishes) is filled with the warm and fuzzies, with the Broadway veteran duetting with the likes of Billy Porter (“I Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”), Ariana Grande (“A Hand For Mrs. Claus”) and Frozen 2 co-star Josh Gad (“We Wish You The Merriest”). The LP also features Menzel tackling a medley of “O Holy Night/Ave Maria” as well as co-writing original, family-themed ballad “At This Table.”
Alessia Cara, “Make It To Christmas”
Alessia Cara fights the winter blues on her first Christmas single, “Make It To Christmas,” which find the singer-songwriter bracing herself for a love going cold as her favorite holiday approaches. “There’s just something ’bout the snow this time of year that makes us/ Lose our way/ Just say we’ll make up and/ Hold on a little longer/ Don’t have me spendin’ it alone/ This time of year is precious/ Please, can we make it to Christmas?” Cara asks before a festive choir and peals of churchbells interrupt her desperate plea with an ironic jolt of holiday cheer.
Liam Payne, “All I Want For Christmas”
Just ahead of his debut solo album (due out Dec. 6 via Capitol Records), Liam Payne gave fans an early gift in “All I Want (For Christmas),” a lovesick ballad that’s essentially the opposite of Mariah’s cheerful, similarly-titled classic. On the track, the former One Direction-er desperately tries to right a fading romance, insistent that if he and his love can just make it through the holiday season, their relationship can be saved. “If we can make it through December/ Every New Year we’ll be together/ Baby all I want for Christmas/ Is you and me to fix this,” he laments on the lovelorn chours, perfectly capturing the feeling of being heartbroken over the holidays.
Dionne Warwick, Dionne Warwick & The Voices of Christmas
For her second album of 2019, following She’s Back earlier this year, Dionne Warwick teams up with everyone from Aloe Blacc (“This Christmas”) and Wanya Morris (“The Christmas Song”) to Andra Day (“Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”) and Chloe x Halle (“Silver Bells”) for a collection of tender holiday tracks that goes down as smoothly as the six-time Grammy winner’s singular voice.
George Michael & Wham!, Last Christmas: The Soundtrack
While the new holiday film starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding gets its title from Wham!‘s most famous Christmas song, its soundtrack proves to be a love letter to George Michael‘s career-spanning legacy. The 15-track LP features two additional Wham! classics (“Everything She Wants” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”) as well as a dozen of the late singer’s solo hits, including “Faith,” “Freedom ’90” and the never-before-released track “This Is How (We Want You to Get High).”
Various Artists, Hanukkah+
Not to be outdone by the proliferation of Christmas music, Hanukkah finally gets its musical due this season with the release of Hanukkah+, a compilation album featuring the likes of Jack Black (“Oh Hanukkah” and outro “Chad Gaya [Passover Bonus]”), Haim (“If It Be Your Will”) and The Flaming Lips (“Sing It Now, Sing It Somehow”). Taking inspiration from Yo La Tengo‘s yearly run of eight Hanukkah shows, the LP will include a combination of Jewish standards and original songs, and is scheduled for release Nov. 22 via Verve Forecast with a special vinyl pressing set for Dec. 13. Check back soon to hear the music from the album.
Los Lobos, Llegó Navidad
For their first-ever holiday album, Los Lobos laid down a dozen Christmas songs from around Latin, Central and South America. Steeped in the holiday traditions of cultures throughout the Spanish-speaking world, the album is filled with the band’s signature sound and a mix of Spanish and English lyrics. Come for classic standards like “Amarga Navidad” and, of course, “Feliz Navidad”; stay for the Tex-Mex flair of “It’s Christmas Time in Texas” and original song “Christmas and You.”