In the past two weeks, I’ve received three new Christmas albums in the mail and I couldn’t be happier. There is some fierce debate over when Christmas music can/should start. It seems like one of those topics that is incredibly polarizing; you either LOVE Christmas music and want it as soon as possible (maybe even year-round), or you cannot abide by anything festive until after Thanksgiving. In case you had any doubt which side of the spectrum I land, perhaps I should remind you of the time when I was 11 or 12 and convinced my mom to let me put up and decorate our Christmas tree on Halloween. 😉
Whether you like it or not, the holidays are fast approaching. I work for a craft store, so we’ve been full on Christmas since the beginning of October for all those that make their own gifts and decorations. The two big radio stations for Christmas music here in town officially made the switch on November 1st. I know that part of the hesitation is the fact that Thanksgiving can get overshadowed by the holiday madness. I get it, but sadly the market for Thanksgiving music just isn’t there. However, if you are searching for some great turkey day music, I recommend “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie and “Turkeys in the Rain” by Seth Bernard. You’re welcome.
Whether you want it now or in a few more weeks, artists obviously had to plan ahead and release their Christmas albums in time to get the most exposure. You won’t find many that buy the music after December 25th, so the window of opportunity for sales is limited. Thus, most release dates for new Christmas albums happen at the end of October/early November.
My happy mail week consisted of new Christmas albums from Hanson and The Piano Guys, as well as a special edition re-release of Josh Groban’s Noel complete with six added songs. Josh Groban has got one of those voices I could listen to forever, and he’s perfectly suited for a lot of the season’s religious ballads. The Piano Guys are similar in that I could listen to them all day, every day. They are the perfect background music while I’m writing or doing other things where I don’t want to be distracted by lyrics. This makes them the perfect addition to your holiday party playlists as they fit seamlessly into the background without distracting from the festivities.
Last but not least, is Hanson’s newest Christmas album aptly titled, Finally, It’s Christmas. This is their second holiday album. The first, Snowed In, was released 20 years ago marking another of many anniversaries for the band in 2017. While the first two albums I mentioned could easily play in the background, the Hanson brothers have said in a few different interviews now that this isn’t one of those albums. This is an album that becomes part of your celebration.
The album boasts four new original songs including the title track, “Finally, It’s Christmas.’ A few classics are thrown in, like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Blue Christmas,” and some adorable renditions of “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” both sung by the band members children (some of whom are the same age as their fathers were when they recorded their first Christmas album, if any of us weren’t feeling old yet!). To keep the 90’s nostalgia going, the guys went and reworked *the* Christmas song of the 90’s and made it their own. Yes, that’s right; they tackled Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” The new arrangement suits them and solidifies the fact that this band isn’t going to push out some stereotypical Christmas album, just reciting someone else’s work note for note. Some classics you absolutely leave the same, as evidenced by their stripped down version of, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” that closes out the album. Some classics you mash up and make a new arrangement while keeping the heart of the songs, as in their “Joy to the Mountain,” which takes “Joy to the World” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and brings them together. But other songs, like Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” they take a modern classic, and they Hansonize it because that’s what they do. Clearly, it works for them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To close out my unintended Hanson plug, to celebrate their new album, the band is doing something they’ve never done before: they’re doing a mini Christmas tour. Chicago is already sold out, but if you’re around NYC or LA, you won’t want to miss this! Details on their website: Hanson.net
Whether you’re rocking out to Hanson, or looking for some great background music for all your holiday needs, these three albums fit the bill. You can bet you’ll be hearing them at my house if you stop by!