It’s official: Carole King is the New Queen of the Christmas Season. With her voice as smooth as eggnog, A Holiday Carole is a great compliment to your warm and cozy gatherings this yuletide season. King, a trailblazer for female vocalists, applies her soulful and groovy style to both traditional and original compositions for an album that can easily become part your annual Christmas music rotation. Backed by great musicianship, King’s interpretations of holiday favourites such as “My Favorite Things” and “Sleigh Ride” will get your body moving as you decorate the tree. Newer Christmas tunes such as “Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday” and “I Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” will set the mood as you snuggle with your significant other next to the fireplace. King’s performance is in top form, reminiscent of her landmark album Tapestry, and A Holiday Carole will ensure that you have a very merry Motown Christmas!
Trial Track: “Christmas in the Air”
– Mike Beaton
It’s no surprise that pop sensation Justin Bieber followed the path of his sugary music-making predecessors, like the Jackson 5 and ‘N SYNC. It was strategic for Bieber to use Mistletoe as a showcase for his ‘new’ voice and rap skills. However, if he actually has any rap skills is still up for debate. Mistletoe includes a combination of original songs, which are annoyingly catchy, and classics with his own spin. The one song that is completely butchered? “Drummer Boy” featuring Busta Rhymes. Bieber spits some lines about how he is the drummer boy, and Busta raps totally incoherently about Christmas (I think?), though the rest of the album is well done. “Silent Night” and “The Christmas Song,” with Usher, present Bieber’s real talent while staying true to the classic Christmas style. The production of every song on the album is excellent; however, only buy Mistletoe if you’re under 18 or have the Bieber Fever.
Trial Track: “Home This Christmas” feat. The Band Perry
– Leah Batstone
With the release of What Money Can’t Buy, The Summer Set took a similar, yet distinctly different approach to their their new Christmas EP. It only features three songs, entitled “Old Mexico,” “Love By Our Side,” and “Something ‘Bout This Time of Year,” and stays true to the Summer Set sound: every song features an intricate combination of pop, rock and even a bit of country twang. Lead singer Brian Dales’ unique voice brings a new life to each track, adding an unexpected twist to the holiday music. The record can only be purchased online, with a suggested donation of $5 to benefit the Toys for Tots Foundation, which helps give toys to underprivileged children for Christmas. Any donation is welcomed by the band, and all proceeds go to the charity. With this heartwarming album, The Summer Set really does bring back the true meaning of Christmas.
Trial Track: “Old Mexico”
– Erica Commisso
Like great German inventions such as DDT, assault rifles or MP3s, Boney M’s Nightflight to Venus is a force to be reckoned with. Crafted from pure cocaine and a few hired singers, the 1978 masterpiece was built for a single purposeâ€”to make you dance. The title track is five minutes of mercilessly surging drums slowly building into “Rasputin”â€”yes, that “Rasputin”â€”which hammers away for another six minutes until passing the beat to “Painter Man,” “Steppenwolf” and “King of the Road” with what soon occurs to you is fucking awesome disco. With a determination to make you party like the drug war never began, the second half of the album begins with “Rivers of Babylon,” an ecstatic reggae cover followed by three more tracks of ceaseless disco bliss. The finale is a surprisingly poignant cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” that remains true to the dream of fucking shit up in a funky ass way unseen since Richard Wagner.
Trial Track: “Rivers of Babylon”
– Patrick Case