Looking for something new to put on this Christmas Day and drown out the family rows? Perhaps they’ll even soundtrack the happy times?! 2017 has been incredibly generous for festive LPs, so we’ve whittled down the best of them. And as The Killers aren’t delivering their usual, annual Christmas single (seriously, if you haven’t heard Boots or Joseph, Better You Than Me add them to your Xmas playlist immediately), there are a few stand-alone tracks at the end too. Like the little gift to go with the big gift, because no matter how old you are, one present is never enough..
Sia: Everyday Is Christmas
Best for: ALL OF CHRISTMAS
Usually for Sia, everyday is writing a song for a film. Bizarrely, that hasn’t happened for a holiday film yet, however Everyday Is Christmas embodies the spirit of all of your favourites. In her usual effortless style, she leads a host of catchy hooks and vocal layers like reindeers lead a sleigh, celebrating the spirit of Christmas in various tempos. Candy Cane Lane is surrounded by the wall of sound that makes Phil Spector’s Christmas collection such a timeless tradition, while Snowflake and Underneath The Christmas Lights are stunning, Wintery wonders, the latter almost hymn-like. Puppies Are Forever is beyond bonkers (but with a strong message!) and Underneath The Mistletoe is standard Sia with added glitter. There might be nothing new in terms of subject matter, but the melding of her songwriting with the magic of the time of year is the sort of craftsmanship Santa’s elves can only dream of.
Tom Chaplin: Twelve Tales Of Christmas
Best for: Hosting a festive get together
Eight of the twelve tracks on Keane frontman Tom Chaplin’s Christmas collection are new numbers, which is impressive enough. What’s even more impressive are his choice of covers, and how successfully he pulls them off. Opener Walking In The Air is transformed from Snowman/choir-boy classic to soft, classic rock stunner. Elsewhere, The Pretenders’ 2000 Miles and Joni Michell’s River are reworked with his trademark dulcet tones, before Tom completely goes off the rails and takes on 90s skin-head boyband East 17’s Stay Another Day. The original has become one of those Christmas classics that was probably never supposed to be, and with this in mind it doesn’t quite work as well as the others. Of the original numbers, Midnight Mass and We Remember You This Christmas keep things simple, something often overlooked at this time of year. Meanwhile, Under A Million Lights and London Lights are so successful as Tom Chaplin numbers that you might just get away with playing them throughout the year.
Mark Feehily: Christmas
Best for: Walking through the city and pretending you’re the romantic lead in a Christmas film
Not so many moons ago, Christmas was primetime for Westlife. They scored a number one with I Have A Dream/Seasons In The Sun, and ensured that a new album was ready to top Christmas lists for generations of women. On his second album since the band’s split, Mark Feehily takes on the Christmas numbers that mean the most to him. While it’s concise, it’s also diverse, opening with Merry Christmas Baby (previously handled by Otis Redding, Elvis Presley and Rod Stewart) before delving a little deeper into the songs we’ve come to associate with St Nick. The end result is a classic sounding collection that will also bring back memories of Christmas in the 90s and early 00s for long-time fans.
Gwen Stefani: You Make It Feel Like Christmas
Best for: Getting into the spirit without wanting to get too cold
Unlike the rock/reggae of No Doubt’s back catalogue, or the r’n’b influence of her solo career, Gwen’s Christmas collection embodies the sort of classic sound present on hits from half a decade ago. It’s almost like taking one Motown and one rock ’n’ roll Christmas compilation, hitting the shuffle button and sprinkling silver glitter over your speaker. Last Christmas and Silent Night become country-tinged ballads, and Jingle Bells is brash and brassy with a little go on a Sleigh Ride. The new tracks segue in successfully too, with My Gift Is You sounding like something The Ronettes could have put out in ’63, and the Blake Shelton featuring You Make It Feel Like Christmas building from doo-wop verses to the sort of chorus that’ll have your Grandad swinging you around the Christmas tree.
Hanson: Finally It’s Christmas
Best for: Hanson fans
Finally, 20 years after their first Christmas album (and second ever album), those Hanson brothers are back with another gift-wrapped treat. As with Snowed In, it’s a mix of original songs and covers, with the former in the guise of the soft rock they now specialise in (if you weren’t aware, they’re very much still together and played live dates in the UK earlier this year). The covers are more of a mixed bag, for which you might require that good old lying “oh I love it” gift face. Their take on Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime (reworked and reworded as A Wonderful Christmas Time) is clunky, and All I Want For Christmas (they’ve removed “For You”) is more Bieber than Buble cover, however Please Come Home (usually titled with “For Christmas” on the end…) is almost a perfect as Jon Bon Jovi’s version. The album ends with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and is another example where less is more, which isn’t usually something I’d write on a Christmas list.
Elvis Presley: Elvis Christmas
Best for: Grandma, or wondering what Christmas sounded like for Grandma
The yanks have always been better at Christmas music, with a holiday album practically a given from any artist. They even have a chart dedicated to holiday numbers – how it works for the rest of the year I’m not sure. One man who’s no stranger to that, or any other, chart is Mr Elvis Presley. Throughout his career he recorded enough new holiday hits and covered the standard to be able to soundtrack your entire holiday period from November 6th to New Year’s Day. Continuing the Royal Philharmonic’s insistence to add orchestral accompaniment to everyone and their mother’s back catalogue (Roy Orbison and Aretha Franklin have recently been RPO’d) they’ve taken on 13 of The King’s most known Christmas classics, taking into account the obvious (Blue Christmas), the Christmas in the Jailhouse Rockier numbers (Santa Claus Is Back In Town) and some hymns to boot.
The stand alone songs:
Mariah Carey: The Star
Mother Christmas returns in 2017 with projects a plenty. As well as two Christmas dates in the UK (where she’ll bring her two Christmas albums to Manchester and London for what will possibly be the most festive gig in history) she’ll be releasing the animated film based on All I Want For Christmas Is You, and releasing this track from rival 2017 animated film, The Star. Unlike the 60s influence of her most famous holiday hit, The Star could have come straight from the soundtrack of a 90s cartoon classic, in cinemas around the release of All I Want For Christmas For You. The song, not the film. Listen out for the backing vocals from her little ones at the end too.
Kelly Clarkson: Christmas Eve
Wrapped In Red gave Kelly Clarkson a hit in the LP charts four years ago, yet there’s clearly still some unfashioned business between the American Idol winner and Santa. As with that albums lead single, Underneath The Tree, Christmas Eve is inspired by the holiday hits of the 50s and 60s; think Brenda Lee: Rocking Around The Christmas Tree. Perhaps partly due to its release at the same time as her new album, yet not featuring on it, Christmas Eve didn’t set the charts alight, however it’s a reminder that any Xmas number wrapped by Kelly is bound to be a treat.
Nick Jonas feat. Shania Twain: Say All You Want For Christmas
Following her successful comeback – which saw her release a new album and play the UK for the first time in over a decade this year – Shania Twain’s gifting fans with this duet with Nick Jonas. As you’d expect from the Twain, it’s a country-ballad, and it begs the question: When are we going to get a whole Christmas collection from her? That would impress us, erm, much.