A Holiday Music Roundup 2021 — Worth Stuffing Your Stocking
Love it or hate it, holiday music is an essential part of the end-of-year record release schedule. I just so happen to be one of those full throttle tinsel time peppermint pushers who transitions to the seasonal staples of Nat King Cole and Andy Williams the day after Halloween. Friends and family call me crazy, but the classics bring me tidings of good cheer, so why limit them to just a few days out of the year? Better yet, I say we expand upon our yuletide playlists by embracing what’s new, whether naughty or nice, which is why I’ve made this list and I’ve checked it twice. So grab a bowl of figgy pudding and tell Mariah Carey to take the night off. This rundown is all about the latest, the greatest, and the merriest of music to hit your headphones since “Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny >EXPLETIVE< Kaye.”
Artist: Nat King Cole
Release: Nat King Cole and Friends: Cole Classics Reimagined
Guests: John Legend, Gloria Estefan, Calum Scott, Kristin Chenoweth
Label: Capital Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: There are few voices that are as crisp and creamy as Cole’s. His version of “The Christmas Song,” first released in 1946 and co-written by none other than Mel Tormé, has come to define my holiday harmony, so hearing John Legend step in on a digital duet that was 75 years in the making is a pleasant surprise that retains that old vintage vinyl vibe.
Artist: Kat Edmonson
Release: Holiday Swingin’
Label: Megaforce Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: Drop the needle on this record if you want to bring a sense of cool to your holiday party but prepare to turn back the clock with Edmonson’s rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock,” which is best served playing at the top of the hour every hour… at least until your guests have had too much eggnog and stumble home.
Artist: Lori McKenna
Release: Christmas Is Right Here
Label: CN Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: Humans are drawn to what they know, which is why we so often revisit the same holiday songs over and over again. There’s a comfort to that nostalgia. That said, even the classics were new at one time, and McKenna is proving that there’s room in the basket of annual anthems with her own original “North Pole,” a track that is as much of a feeling as it is a story.
Artist: Brian Fallon
Release: Night Divine
Label: Lesser Known Records/Thirty Tigers
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: Chock-full of hymns and carols, this offering from the former The Gaslight Anthem frontman is as chill as a December snowfall, but it’s Fallon’s rendition of “Silent Night” that beautifully cuts through the silence any old night of the week.
Artist: Billy Idol
Release: Happy Holidays
Label: Dark Horse Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: I never envisioned a day when the “Rebel Yell” singer would be decking my halls, but this surprising offering is pleasantly festive without being shlocky. Idol’s “Winter Wonderland” may now be one of my favorite renditions to hit the speakers since Dean Martin crooned his way to Christmas day in 1957.
Artist: Hiss Golden Messenger
Release: O Come All Ye Faithful
Label: Merge Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: M.C. Taylor gift wraps a holiday album that is as introspective as it is joyful, but it’s the original “Grace” that shines as bright as the North Star.
Artist: Pistol Annies
Release: Hell of a Holiday
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: Just when you think you can’t hear another rendition of “Sleigh Ride” worth taking downhill in a snowstorm, Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley kick up the tempo and make you want to sing along with a chorus… or two.
Artist: G. Love
Release: Coming Back Home For Christmas
Label: Philadelphonic Records/Thirty Tigers
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: I’ve been loving me some G. Love since I was first introduced to him way back in the 1990s. Showing my age aside, the Special Sauce specialist’s original “Winter Days” is ageless and can be enjoyed by wide-eyed children both in date of birth and in spirit.
Artist: Joe Newberry & April Verch
Release: On This Christmas Day
Label: Slab Town Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: Don’t wait until Christmas day to listen to the title track from these two caroling collaborators. In fact, make it a tradition and listen to it every time you wonder what a wassail is, which for me, is often.
Artist: Steve Perry
Release: The Season
Label: Fantasy Records
Worth Stuffing into Your Stocking: I could listen to Perry sing the telephone book, which is a lot more difficult these days because all those yellow pages are now obsolete. Thankfully the former Journey frontman has decided to sing classic Christmas songs, none more enjoyable than his take on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” We will now thanks to you, Mr. Perry.
Do you have some other new holiday favorites worth checking out? Let us know in the comments and I’ll make updates all the way up to Santa’s arrival.
Holiday Music Roundup 2021 Holiday Music Roundup 2021