It’s the time of year when you can’t step into a store or turn on the radio without having your ears assaulted by a saccharine soundtrack of holiday music. After a few weeks of this, I start loathing the genre. It’s not all unbearable, though. Despite a rather bizarre set of recent seasonal releases (Bob Dylan? Sting? Rob Halford?), there is some contemporary holiday music out there worth listening to.
Aimee Mann’s 2006 release, One More Drifter in the Snow, is mellow yet festive. Mann mixes much-loved standards like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “White Christmas“ with a few original songs. My favorite track on the CD is her version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”— Mann’s playful vocals weave in and out of excerpts of Dr. Seuss’s story. It’s fun without being cloying.
Tori Amos’s recent CD, Midwinter Graces, takes a similar, though decidedly more ethereal, approach. Amos also adds several original songs to a catalog of solid holiday fare. Those original songs are the best on the CD, particularly “Snow Angel.”
And if you’re the type who dreads the holidays, put on Billy Idol’s Happy Holidays (A Very Special Christmas Album) and pour a stiff drink. Together, they’ll see you through.
Bio: Elizabeth Onusko is managing editor of Guernica. Read her last recommendation “here”:http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1437/rec_room_elizabeth_onusko_the/.