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It’s that time again. The colors, the cheer, the food, and everyone’s favorite part about the holidays – the songs.
Okay, maybe not for everyone. Every year a slew of musicians release their holiday albums to the excitement (or not) of the public and their fans. This year is no different. Let me be honest. I’m not the greatest fan of holiday songs. In fact, there might only be one or two holiday songs that I actually like. But because I’m a fan of most of these artists, I had to give their holiday albums a listen. I even surprised myself and added these songs to my Spotify playlist.
If you’re not sure which new holiday album should be on your wishlist, we’ve got you covered. So here’s your guide to the best holiday albums released this year.
1. “A Tori Kelly Christmas” by Tori Kelly
This album takes a more gospel approach similar to her previous gospel album. Fans of her voice ( who isn’t?), RnB, gospel, and blues music – this is for you. Kelly gives RnB-infused classic holiday favs with her signature runs and riffs on this album. Of course, there are the romantic holiday songs about needing your loved one by your side in the snow. It also includes the cover of “Hallelujah” which she sang for the animated movie “Sing”, which she slayed as usual.
Stand out: Her cover of “Sleigh Ride” has soulful vocals and a groovy, soul-adapted production which is a vibe for any RnB fan. There’s even some scatting for the jazz lovers.
2. “The Christmas Album” by Leslie Odom Jr.
Hamilton fans, meet the man behind the damn fool who shot him (I had to). Odom’s second holiday album included holiday classics and newly written music, with a few noteworthy features, such as The Mzanzi Youth Choir, which adds a uniquely African style to Little Drummer Boy. The album genre-bends from RnB, gospel, jazz to pop, making it a great holiday album for people who enjoy a variety of musical styles. His smooth vocals carry each genre through flawlessly.
Stand out: His original song “Snow” is a feel-good, upbeat holiday song with some great harmonies and vocals.
3. “We Need A Little Christmas” by Pentatonix
What are the holidays without a Pentatonix album? If you aren’t into a capella, Pentatonix will change your mind. There are brilliant a capella versions of holiday songs weaving between the five angelic voices. There are also some covers of movie favorites that share holiday sentiments like The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things”, Pinnochio’s “When You Wish Upon A Star”, Anastasia’s “Once Upon A December”, and Rent’s “Seasons of Love”. Their holiday album is perfect for anyone looking for a mix of holiday cheer and emotional holiday songs.
Stand out: Pentatonix’s cover of “Amazing Grace” is an incredibly emotional performance with stunning vocal arrangements.
Jojo has been in the industry since she was 13. Here she offers her holiday album with RnB feels and her smokey voice. The album has Christmas carols as interludes in-between famous holiday jams and some original songs. There are only two features – Jacob Collier and PJ Morton. The production is noteworthy with neo-soul vibes and a modern spin to it. Her soulful voice is what really ties the album together sonically.
Stand out: “December Baby” is an original holiday song with the feels of a holiday RnB classic.
5. “If The Fates Allow (A Hadestown Holiday Album)” by the original Broadway cast of Hadestown
This one is for all the Broadway fans. It’s mostly comprised of the women who played the Fates in the musical with their beautiful three-part harmonies but it also includes some songs with the original Broadway cast. It has a folks and blues take on holiday songs creating the unique Hadestwon sound that fans will love.
Stand out: “Song of the Magi” is an Anais Mitchell original – the creator and composer of Hadestown. The song sounds like it should’ve been in the musical except for its Christmas lyrics.
6. “A Very Trainor Christmas” by Meghan Trainor
This holiday album is filled with cheer and good vibes. It’s fun and upbeat with the quintessential Trainor soul-pop sound to the original songs of the album despite the holiday theme. The warm harmonies really leave a fresh sound to the older holiday songs she covers. If you’re more into pop songs with hooks, this is the album to listen to.
Stand out: “My Kind of Present” has doo-wop harmonies with a bright, upbeat sound that feels like a warm hug. It’s a catchy pop holiday song with a clear 1950s musical inspiration.
7. “A Holly Dolly Christmas” by Dolly Parton
Last but certainly not least is Dolly Parton’s holiday offering. This album sounds exactly how you’d think – country melodies combined with holiday-themed lyrics. There are a few covers but it’s mostly original songs by Dolly herself. It features Miley Cyrus, Michale Buble. Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, and her brother Randy Parton. If you like country, gospel, or Dolly, this is perfect for your holiday listening.
Stand out: The sentimental original “Comin’ Home for Christmas” already sounds like a holiday classic. Its endearing lyrics about coming home for the holidays are relatable for many who may not be able to due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Whether you’re a fan of holiday music or not, these artists have surely put their best work forward without sacrificing their individual musical sounds. Holiday music helps to set the tone and mood for the holidays. It’s a part of the magic, whether you’re a holiday music-fanatic or not. If you are, I hope these holiday albums give you the joy and comfort needed for the rest of the holidays.
The Tempest fam also came up with a collective holiday playlist for our team, check it out here!
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