I love to give and receive music for Christmas. It feels thoughtful and personal to me. Yuletide shopping for the Gleeks on my gift list â€” which is pretty much everyone on the list â€” will be easy as pie this year because â€śGlee: The Music – The Christmas Albumâ€ť comes out Nov. 16.
The 11-track collection includes solo performances of â€śO Holy Nightâ€ť and â€śAngels We Have Heard On Highâ€ť by respective vocal powerhouses Lea Michele and Amber Riley. The guys of New Directions will no doubt get jiggy with their â€śJingle Bells,â€ť while the ladies make like the heavenly host on â€śGod Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.â€ť Still, I have a feeling the highlight of the set might be the inspired pairing of Matthew Morrison and k.d. lang on the curmudgeonly classic â€śYouâ€™re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.â€ť
If youâ€™re searching for a music gift for someone who isnâ€™t infected with gleebola, you might want to consider Mariah Careyâ€™s new â€śMerry Christmas II You.â€ť Itâ€™s a fine sequel to her stellar 1994 holiday blockbuster â€śMerry Christmas.â€ť Good tracks abound, but my favorite cut is the album closer, a happy House interpretation of â€śAuld Lang Syneâ€ť that will be played in dance clubs from coast to coast to mark the changing of the year.
If neither of these sets will appeal to your intended recipient or youâ€™d just prefer to give a truly personal gift, consider assembling a compilation album of your favorite yuletide tracks. Simply come up with your song list, download the tracks from one of the many online music retailers and burn your disc.
Decorate the CD and cover in a way that conveys your feelings and be sure to tell the recipient that you made this collection especially for them. Unless youâ€™re dealing with the aforementioned Grinch, he or she will cherish it for years to come.
Hereâ€™s a list of the songs Iâ€™m putting on my Christmas gift album.
â€śAnother Lonely Christmasâ€ť – Prince. Not your typical fare, this melancholy 1984 B-side to â€śI Would Die 4 Uâ€ť is the tale of a man whoâ€™s spending another yuletide missing his deceased girlfriend.
â€śBlue Christmasâ€ť – Elvis Presley. The Kingâ€™s holiday rhapsody in blue is a great showcase for his velvety tenor. The cheez-whiz girl-group backing vocals (â€śwoo-ooh-ooh-ooh-oohâ€ť) are an added bonus.
â€śThe Chipmunks Christmas Songâ€ť – The Chipmunks. Alvin, Simon and Theodore â€” under the capable direction of David Seville â€” capture perfectly the anticipation of the season. And, can someone please give Alvin a hula hoop?
â€śChristmas In Hollisâ€ť – Run-D.M.C. A rappinâ€™ carol about Hollis, Queens and collard greens. If you donâ€™t think thatâ€™s Christmas, youâ€™re a sucka MC.
â€śThe Christmas Songâ€ť – Nat â€śKingâ€ť Cole. If youâ€™re like me, anytime you come across the phrase â€śChestnuts roasting on an open fireâ€ť you hear it in your head as performed by the legendary Cole. Little wonder, his signature yuletide tune was voted the top Christmas song of all time.
â€śChristmas Time Is Hereâ€ť – Toni Braxton. â€śA Charlie Brown Christmasâ€ť may have introduced this song to the world, but Braxtonâ€™s sultry-without-even-trying reading is anything but kid stuff.
â€śDo They Know Itâ€™s Christmas?â€ť – Band Aid. This 1984 charity song for African famine relief is the blueprint for every supergroup fundraising track thatâ€™s followed â€” with one major difference. You actually want to hear this one.
â€śDo You Hear What I Hearâ€ť – Whitney Houston. Before Whitneyâ€™s velvet voice was reduced to a ragged rasp by drugs, she was capable of sending spirits soaring. Listen to this gem and weepâ€¦for a few reasons.
â€śFeliz Navidadâ€ť – Jose Feliciano. A Spanglish holiday extravaganza. Feliciano strums a mean guitar and I can never resist trying to phonetically sing along even though I have no clue what half the words are.
â€śGrandma Got Run Over By A Reindeerâ€ť – Elmo & Patsy. Yes, I know itâ€™s supremely silly, but it also always makes me smile. Sometimes you just have to indulge your inner child.
â€śThe Hanukkah Songâ€ť – Adam Sandler. Sandlerâ€™s at his goofy best on this charming Jews-Who celebrity roll-call. Plus, itâ€™s cool to see the non-Christmas set get a little airtime.
â€śI Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clausâ€ť – John Cougar Mellencamp. Roots-rockinâ€™ version of the classic thatâ€™s as authentically Americana as Jack and Diane or those little pink houses.
â€śItâ€™s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Yearâ€ť – Johnny Mathis. Even a ubiquitous Gap holiday ad from a few years ago wasnâ€™t able to dull the openly gay croonerâ€™s sparkliest Christmas gem.
â€śLast Christmasâ€ť – Wham! Long before he was a drug-addled mess, George Michael and that other guy took a careless lover to task on this super-perky piece of mid-â€™80s bubblegum.
â€śMerry Christmas, Darlingâ€ť – The Carpenters. Wounded songbird Karen left this mortal coil much too soon. At least we have performances like this to cherish forever.
â€śPut A Little Love In Your Heartâ€ť – Annie Lennox and Al Green. This winner from â€śScrooged,â€ť Bill Murrayâ€™s â€™80s update of â€śA Christmas Carol,â€ť will warm your cockles even on the coldest of days.
â€śSanta Claus Is Coming To Townâ€ť – Bruce Springsteen. Another B-side from â€™84 (â€śMy Hometownâ€ť was the flip). The Bossâ€™s trademark rasp raises a ruckus on this rocking version of the standard.
â€śSilent Nightâ€ť – Barbra Streisand. Jewish Babs interprets what is arguably the most difficult to sing of all Christmas carols as if she was the featured soloist of the heavenly host.
â€śWhite Christmasâ€ť – Bing Crosby. Maybe not the boldest â€” or hippest â€” choice, but with the possible exception of those two front teeth, isnâ€™t a lovely Christmas snow what everyone hopes for most this time of year?
â€śWinter Wonderlandâ€ť – Anne Murray. â€śSleigh bells ring / are you listening?â€ť The answerâ€™s a resounding â€śyesâ€ť when this feel-good Christmas classic is sung by â€™70s country star and lesbian fave Murray. : :