Holiday Guide 2010: Holiday Album Roundup

Posted December 8, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

HiFi’s 2010 list of holiday albums bring good tidings of comfort and joy; some are more naughty than nice 

Tis’  the season to open up the egg nog, crank up the old stereo and pull out the holiday albums. With each passing year, new holiday albums hit stores hoping to tug on buyer’s curiousities for more of that “jingle bell rock.” 2010 is no exception with new titles from Lady Antebellum, Mariah Carey, Susan Boyle and Annie Lennox and previous re-releases from Sheryl Crow and Taylor Swift now hitting major retailers and online stores.

Not only have we done our homework of checking our list (twice) in our annual Holiday Album Roundup, but we’ve actually gone the extra mile to let you know which albums are naughty or nice. Check out our entries in our 2010 holiday edtion and click the links to the album reviews. That way, you’ll be on the road to rediscovery as we reveal the hot album tracks and the final grade. Not to be a Grinch for the holiday, but not every Christmas album comes with mistletoe.

HIFI SIDEBAR: Additional albums are expected to be posted before the holidays wrap up, so be sure to bookmark and revisit the page to read new reviews and posts.



Mariah Carey
Merry Christmas II You


Next to Kenny G’s Miracles album, Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas stands out as one of the highest charted holiday albums in modern pop history. Furthermore the album was distinguished by its Walter Afanasieff’s score and Carey’s originals (“All I Want for Christmas Is You,” “Born This Day”). Fourteen years later, Carey returns to her timeless template to recreate the same magic of her holiday predecessor, even reviving her Christmas gem “All I Want for Christmas” with a receptive extended version.

[Read full review + album grade]


Lady Antebellum
Merry Little Christmas

(Capitol Nashville)

Available as a Target-only import, Lady Antebellum are the latest country-pop superstars to fetch out a holiday album. Although it’s a six-song EP, A Merry Little Christmas gets the same royal, high-end production featured on their first two records. Though they go for the familiar tunes, their arrangements – for the most part – summarizes their recognizable style of tight-knit harmonies and contemporary country.

[Read full review + album grade]


Sheryl Crow
Home for Christmas


Think of Dusty Springfield with a sprinkle of Stax soul and Southern blues and you have a strong assessment of what Home for Christmas, Crow’s sole holiday album. Although assembled as a retail speciality disc (for Hallmark first, Target later), this is a full-length project that chronicles Crow’s musical epiphany of Memphis’ “sweet soul music.” She enters into Southern roots gospel on “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and paces well on Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas Baby.”

[Read full review + album grade]


Annie Lennox
A Christmas Cornucopia


Throw away the furthest thought of an electronica Eurhythmic album: you revelers are not getting that here. What you will get is one of the better holiday entries of 2010. Annie Lennox goes the traditional route on Cornucopia, re-discovering 17th century English carols like “Angels From the Realms of Glory” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Even pleasant oddities are aboard like “Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant,” “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol).”

[Read full review + album grade]


Susan Boyle
The Gift


It’s hard to not like Susan Boyle and it’s easy to not take her serious. A product of a reality-TV show usually discredits an artists’ rise to fame, but Boyle isn’t your typical pop star. By the way – depending on who you ask – lumping her into pop simply because she’s a Billboard 200 superstar feels tacky and cruel. But with her homely look and her angelic vocals – smooth enough to serenade Michael Buble and Josh Groban followers into a nap – the Brit reality-TV star has found some clever way into our hearts and on our radar of interesting music.

[Read full review + album grade]


Taylor Swift
Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection

(Big Machine)

Released as an EP to the mega-retail chain Target in 2007, Taylor Swift, while basking in the glory of her successful debut, delivers her first-ever holiday entry. While still a relatively new pop princess, Swift’s strong songwriting regimen towards intimate tales and smart melodies makes a crowd favorite for a Christmas album package.

[Read full review + album grade]


Various Artists
NOW That’s What I Call Christmas! 4

(Sony BMG)

The fourth in the NOW! Christmas series follows the same format as its descendants: a double-disc set with new school performers handling one side and holiday classics and rock’s legends making up the other. Sadly, the producers behind these sets must be battling a bad case of dementia since the second set recycles almost half of the content from the 2006 set (Vol. 3) and some of the offerings heard on 2008’s Essential Now…Christmas disc, like Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Andy Williams’ “Most Wonderful Time” and the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.”

[Read full review + album grade]


Patrice Wilson
A Christmas Blessing

(Patrice Wilson)

After a brief hiatus from her independent release Sacrifice, gospel singer Patrice Wilson takes on sentimental holiday offerings, worshipful carols and a few uptempo gospel with her first holiday project. Entirely produced by Georgia gospel artist Claude “Deuce” Harris, Jr., Christmas Blessing opens with warm, cozy lounge-jazz renditions of “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas.”

[Read full review + album grade]


Green and Gold

(Mercury Nashville)

A clever album title and festive greenery decorates the outer package. Unfortunately the Christmas spirit is a bit quenched on Sugarland’s first holiday album, and it’s not all Jennifer Nettles’ fault with her awkward shape shifting vocals from safe pop to R&B to old-fashioned country. Most of the album walks through spazzy country-tinged pop and folksy arrangements, 10 tracks that reveal more of the duo’s weakness than strengths…

[Read full review + album grade]

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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