Baby, it’s cold outside and all those activities in this winter wonderland feel a little warmer with a soundtrack of tunes from 2013’s crop of holiday albums. Pop (Kelly Clarkson), R&B (Mary J. Blige), rock (Nick Lowe), traditional (Susan Boyle), and even plenty of eclectic choices abound this year — Bad Religion’s punk-tastic “Christmas Songs” or Duck Dynasty’s “Duck The Halls” anyone? Tis the season to check out these 10 key 2013 holiday albums.
Kelly Clarkson – “Wrapped in Red”
If you’re looking for holiday release with big pop star appeal, Kelly’s “Wrapped in Red” is a great bet. Its jubilant single “Underneath the Tree” has already topped the Adult Contemporary chart, and sounds like it could have a home in Christmas radio playlists for years to come.
Mary J. Blige – “A Mary Christmas”
For fans of R&B divas, Mary J.’s holiday album is your go-to pick. She puts a soulful touch on standards like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” but there’s also a fusion of other genres. Plus, Barbra Streisand, Jessie J, and Marc Anthony are featured as guests.
Erasure – “Snow Globe”
For fans who might be looking for a more non-traditional take on holiday standards, there’s “Snow Globe,” from the long-running synth duo. The songs sound darker, sparser, dancier, or just otherwise different from their original counterparts. “Everything about Christmas has been written already,” synth player Vince Clarke told Billboard in October. “We thought it would be more interesting to look into the darker side of the season.”
Bad Religion – “Christmas Songs”
What started out sounding like a joke has become a reality — Bad Religion has issued a Christmas album. The veteran punk band has railed against organized religion for years, but here they’ve ironically crammed eight Christmas classics into two-minute, frantic punk songs, leaving it up to the listener to make sense of it all.
Duck Dynasty – “Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas”
If you’re a country music fan or just shopping for one, check out “Duck the Halls,” which features 14 covers and originals sung by the cast of the A&E show, along with guest appearances from Luke Bryan, Alison Krauss, George Strait and more.
Leona Lewis – “Christmas, With Love”
Billed as having a “Motown vibe,” “With Love” marks the first Christmas album from the “Bleeding Love” songstress. Included in the collection are Lewis’s take on a number of classics like “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” along with the originals “One More Sleep,” “Mr. Right, and “Your Hallelujah.”
Susan Boyle – “Home For Christmas”
The “Britain’s Got Talent” phenom turned multi-platinum singer has followed up her 2010 seasonal release “The Gift,” with a new album of holiday tunes sung in her traditional mezzo-soprano, “Home For Christmas.” The new set features her rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” a “duet” with Elvis Presley, and the Scottish songbird is also offering the ability for listeners to personalize their copy of the album with text and a photo.
Nick Lowe – “Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family”
For something in an iconoclastic rock vein, try Lowe’s 12 “sleighbell-free” tunes. “Quality Street” is mixture of familiar standards (“Silent Night”) and new songs written for the album, among them Lowe’s collaboration with Ry Cooder “A Dollar Short of Happy” and the Ron Sexsmith song “Hooves on the Roof.”
Straight No Chaser – “Under The Influence: Holiday Edition”
The a cappella group teamed up with a variety of notable singers (Colbie Caillat, CeeLo Green) to cover festive chestnuts like “White Christmas” and “Everyday is Christmas” on their new eight-song release.
Tamar Braxton – “Winter Loversland”
Braxton has just the thing for a merry R&B Christmas music experience. Tamar’s first Christmas album features her putting her soulful stamp on holiday favorites like “Santa Baby,” as well as new songs “No Gift” and “She Have You.”