Sounding Board

Before Halloween Is Even Over, ‘Tis The Season For Christmas Albums

Sorry to spook you, but: You’d better put on an ugly sweater over your Halloween costume because it’s Christmas time again! It must be, or else all these musicians wouldn’t be releasing Christmas albums already. That’s the only explanation for such a phenomenon, really. Perhaps you can’t yet feel the Christmas spirit in the air this All Hallow’s Eve, in which case I don’t know what to tell you except quit your Scrooge-in’ and indulge in the Christmas industrial complex with these very timely releases. I’ve even helpfully categorized them for you so you can prioritize your previously scheduled yuletide listening session today. Enjoy — and because our president has made it safe to say in America again at long last: Merry Christmas!

MOST LIKELY TO FEATURE LYRICS ABOUT KISSING BLAKE SHELTON UNDER MISTLETOE

Gwen Stefani decided to write her first Christmas song while jogging on boyfriend Blake Shelton’s Oklahoma ranch. A few months later You Make It Feel Like Christmas emerged. In addition to the usual assortment of classics it features six originals, including a duet with Shelton on the title track. (Shelton’s own holiday album Cheers, It’s Christmas is also seeing reissue.)

MOST DESPERATE FOR A CAREER RESURRECTION

Y2K-era boy band 98 Degrees released a successful Christmas album called This Christmas in 1999. They’re back this month with a second seasonal collection called Let It Snow, presumably because Ohio voted down legal marijuana.

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU SAY, “HUH, I REALLY THOUGHT SHE ALREADY RELEASED A CHRISTMAS ALBUM”

Cultishly beloved violin virtuoso Lindsey Stirling’s breakthrough video found her prancing through an ice castle, so forgive us for thinking she must surely have released a holiday collection before this month’s Warmer In The Winter. The PledgeMusic-funded set features many different types of Christmas songs ranging from “Angels We Have Heard On High” to “Jingle Bell Rock” to “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

MOST LIKELY TO ROCK

Funded on PledgeMusic, Cheap Trick’s new Christmas Christmas features three originals plus Christmas tunes by Chuck Berry, the Kinks, Wizzard, Slade, and the Ramones.

MOST LIKELY TO SOUND LIKE FESTIVE RIHANNA SONGS

Performatively wigged pop singer-songwriter Sia has penned hits for many of your favorite artists, and now she and longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin are applying their formula to Christmas originals. Everyday Is Christmas, out 11/17, features 10 all-new future canvasses for Maddie Ziegler dance videos.

MOST LIKELY TO BE FABULOUS

Details are scarce so far, but the makers of RuPaul’s Drag Race have promised a third installment of their Christmas Queens album series this season.

MOST IMPATIENT

It’s been 20 years since brotherly trio Hanson released a Christmas album called Snowed In at the height of their popularity. The new sequel is called Finally It’s Christmas, which I guess is a reasonable thing to say if you’re a Hanson fan who’s been waiting two decades to celebrate Christ’s birth again but still reads as slightly ironic for a Christmas album released in October.

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR WITH A CREEP

Trumpeter Chris Pasin recruited a bunch of his smooth-jazz buddies for the new Baby It’s Cold Outside. Relatedly, will the rising tide of consequences for sexual abusers finally cause the cringeworthy “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to become socially unacceptable?

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU WONDER IF THEY MEAN CONFEDERATE CHRISTMAS

Country veterans Alabama released American Christmas, their first holiday LP since 1996’s Alabama Christmas Vol. II. Heavy on originals, it includes such titles as “Ain’t Santa Cool” and “Sure Could Use Some Christmas Around Here.”

MOST LIKELY TO APPEAL TO OLDER MUSIC NERDS

Alex Chilton’s Panther Burns collaborator Tav Falco teamed with punk legends Mike Watt (Minutemen, Stooges) and Toby Damnit (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds) for A Tav Falco Christmas, a Record Store Day Black Friday release recorded at Sam Phillips Studio in Memphis.

MOST LIKELY TO APPEAL TO YOUNGER MUSIC NERDS

Not many creatively vibrant indie bands have piled up enough Christmas originals to fill out a full tracklist (Low and David Bazan are the only artists that immediately come to mind), but Seattle’s Dude York have done it. Halftime For The Holidays is out on Black Friday, and we can’t wait to find out what “Takin’ Care Of Christmas” sounds like.

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU WISH THEIR MUSIC WAS STILL CONFINED TO SIX-SECOND BURSTS

Michael and Carissa Alvarado got famous uploading covers to Vine. Now they’re a cottage industry under the name Us The Duo. Their first Christmas album, Our Favorite Time Of Year, is out 11/17.

MOST LIKELY TO CHALLENGE THE SELF-PERCEPTION OF PEOPLE WHO “LISTEN TO EVERYTHING”

The new compilation Holidays Rule, Vol. 2 offers a somewhat perplexing grab bag of artists including Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, and the Roots’ cutesy kid-toy rendition of “Wonderful Christmastime” plus tracks from Norah Jones, Roseanne Cash, MUNA, the Decemberists, and U.S. Girls.

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU QUESTION THE LEGITIMACY OF REISSUE CULTURE

It’s not clear whether anyone noticed when REO Speedwagon released Not So Silent Night: Christmas With REO Speedwagon in 2009, but they went ahead and gave it a deluxe reissue this month anyway. Bonus tracks include a new version of “I Believe In Santa Claus.”

MOST LIKELY TO REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

Journey’s Jonathan Cain says he made Unsung Noel, which features 10 originals plus a handful of standards, because he believes even most explicitly Christian Christmas albums don’t go deep enough into scripture.

MOST LIKELY TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE THREE TENORS

The Tenors, formerly known as the Canadian Tenors, released Christmas Together this month, and like their revised band name it seems to be short on distinguishing characteristics.

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU WANT TO STAY UP LATE ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT

American Idol alum Fantasia just released her jazz-infused holiday album Christmas After Midnight. The title apparently is a reference to staying up late on Christmas Night because you don’t want the magic to end and not a reference to Santa’s travels on Christmas Eve, which is probably the most surprising twist you can expect.

MOST LIKELY TO SOUND MIRACULOUS

In addition to a smattering of classics, Smokey Robinson’s upcoming Christmas Everyday features three originals including the title track, which first appeared as a Miracles single on 1963’s Christmas With The Miracles. Trombone Shorty, The Dap Kings, Mindi Abair, Take 6, and Us The Duo guest.

MOST LIKELY TO MAKE AN EXTREMELY UNADVENTUROUS CHRISTMAS RECORDING FEEL INSPIRED

Kelly Clarkson’s just released a holiday book called River Rose And The Magical Christmas, and to promote it she cut “Christmas Eve,” an unremarkable traditionalist pop tune that Clarkson of course sings the shit out of. It’s her first yuletide music since 2013’s Wrapped In Red LP.

Also coming soon: Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You animated movie, Zappos Presents: Jewel’s Handmade Holiday Tour, Melissa Etheridge: Merry Christmas, Baby Tour, Warren Haynes’ 29th annual Christmas Jam, and allegedly some holiday tunes from Nick Jonas.