New Christmas Music for 2009
Music from Pop and Rock Royalty
By Bethany Porter and Laura Young
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You already know and love many of these artists, so why not spend the holidays listening to their brand new albums?
In the Swing of Christmas
Well-known crooner Barry Manilow delivers an album devoted to the holiday season classics. This playful album is big on Christmas cheer!
What does it sound like? Manilow's smooth, soft-rock sound translates well in the holiday genre. Most of his tracks are jaunty and upbeat. Piano accompaniment adds depth to his vocals and fills out the sound. For the most part this album has a relaxing, familiar sound that will suit listeners of all ages.
Perfect for playing: while cooking a holiday meal.
Standout tracks: "Silver Bells," "Christmas Time is Here"
If On a Winter's Night
Award-winning singer and composer, Sting', has a new album cannot actually be called a Christmas album or even a holiday album. As the singer himself has been quoted as saying, it is a "winter album." You'll find none of the usual carols and or Christmas ballads on this disc, rather it is an ode to the emotions and environments associated with winter.
What does it sound like? This is a serious album from a serious artist. Sting plays with a mix of folk songs, lullabies, and ballads that produces a moody, somewhat dark vibe. The sound is heavy and eerie at times. Adults and especially fans will appreciate Sting's very unique endeavor at translating the feelings and scenes of winter to music.
Perfect for playing: during a late-night snowfall.
Standout tracks: "Cold Song," "Now Winter Comes Slowly"
Image courtesy of Girlie Action
Tori Amos is a newcomer to the seasonal album scene this year. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill Christmas album full of old favorites. But with dramatic, piano-based arrangements, this album is a very distinctly Tori Amos despite its holiday undertones.
What does it sound like? Amos's breathy voice combined with beautiful instrumental backup make this album sound like nothing else you'll play this holiday season. Where the flame-haired songstress really shines is on her original tracks. However, her unique voice and deep lyrics are best suited for a sophisticated adult crowd.
Perfect for playing: in the car when the kids fall asleep.
Standout tracks: "Snow Angel," "Pink and Glitter"
A Cherry Cherry Christmas
Image courtesy of Columbia Records
Grammy winning musician and famed songwriter Neil Diamond starts his holiday album off with an original song he wrote just for this season called, "Cherry Cherry Christmas." The rest of the album is full of old Christmas favorites and even a re-make of Adam Sandler's hilarious ode to Chanukah, "The Chanukah Song."
What does it sound like? If you're a Diamond fan already you'll love his take on the holiday favorites that fill this album. His unique singing style and mellow voice offer easy listening for everyone. Portions of the album are playful and Diamond definitely puts his personal spin on each track.
Perfect for playing: while wrapping gifts.
Standout tracks: "Cherry, Cherry Christmas," "You Make It Feel Like Christmas"
Christmas in the Heart
Image courtesy of Columbia Records
There's no doubt that Rock and' Roll Hall of Famer Bob Dylan has had an incredible influence on American music and culture. This year he delivers a Christmas album to his adoring fans while also benefiting those who need extra help during the holiday season. Royalties from the album will benefit Feeding America [http://feedingamerica.org/], a non-profit organization that supports a nation-wide network of over 200 food banks.
What does it sound like? Bob Dylan adds his signature sound and style to Christmas classics such as "Silver Bells" and "Little Drummer Boy." Devoted fans will enjoy the album, however, new listeners may find Dylan's peculiar singing style (which often sounds like mumbling or gruff rambling) a bit jarring.
Perfect for playing: on the flight/drive home for holidays.
Standout tracks: "The Christmas Blues," "Christmas Island"
Discover more interesting Christmas music with a twist on the next page.