Christmas albums deck halls with talent

Christmas music is a lot like figgy pudding – do it right, and you’ve got a seasonal staple. Do it wrong, and you’re curled up in your room counting down the days until New Year’s. This year, skip the stale arrangements, and instead pick the quality albums that will adorn your holiday just as much as the Christmas tree and holly leaves.

Among the avalanche of holiday music, four phenomenal and original seasonal albums will do the trick.

For those wanting to the start the season on an upbeat note, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra delivers rock-and- roll renditions of the classics perfect for Christmas parties in the 1996 album “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”

The songs in the album are strung together like chapters of a book, telling a larger story that requires a listen or two to fully understand. This energizing modern rock music livens up sometimes otherwise bland classics like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night,” featuring Al Pitrelli on guitars and Jon Oliva on keyboard.

Alan Jackson’s second Christmas album “Let it Be Christmas,” released in 2002, will have even the most devout objectors of country music hoping for cowboy boots under the Christmas tree this year. Jackson’s deep and slightly scratchy vocals take a sensitive rendition on Christmas classics like “Silver Bells.”

The country singer has a talent for bringing listeners to tears. As a warning, the debut song, “Let it Be Christmas,” is treated with such sensitivity it’ll require a few tissues to be nearby.

Another notable is the Jackson 5 “Christmas Album,” originally released in 1970 and re-mastered in 2009 with an additional ten tracks. The fresh talent unmistakably showcased in this album, including funky takes on songs like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Frosty the Snowman,” features 12-year-old Michael Jackson’s high-note vocals with enough resonance to impress throughout the millennium.

Albums like this will make you wonder why you ever accepted listening to chipmunk arrangements of Christmas songs.

And, of course, the current top-selling Christmas album on iTunes deserves special mention, because Michael Bublé falls nothing short of his jazzy talent and wispy vibrato in “Christmas,” released last year.

One of the best renditions is “Santa Baby,” which Bublé glazes over with a slow blue’s tempo and just enough suave vocal scoops to make the heart beat a bit faster.

The 27-year-old’s velvety voice offers a warm and cozy atmosphere with his deep, breathy take on other classical holiday favorites.

Let’s admit it, Christmas music can be about as original as the old mistletoe trick. Pick the right albums to ensure you won’t need those earmuffs for more than the cold weather this season, and to spice up your Christmas holiday with true talent.


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