Music Article

Christmas Music in October

Step aside, pumpkins! Take a number, turkeys! Judging by this month's glut of new holiday discs, it's already time for mistletoe.

Artist Cee Lo Green Cee Lo's Magic Moment
What's the Christmas Mood? Intergalactic groovy, with the North Pole horn section sitting in.
Kooky Guest Star(s) Muppets! Kermit & Co. croon along on ''All I Need Is Love.''
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic A soulful redo of Joni Mitchell's ''River'' is slightly less crying-in-your-mulled-wine mournful than the original.
Will You Hear it in Church? Why not? His gospel-tinged ''Silent Night'' is genuinely reverent.

Rating 3½ trees

Artist Various Artists A Very Special Christmas 25th Anniversary
What's the Christmas Mood? Full smorgasbord: Dave Matthews, Christina Aguilera, OneRepublic, Cheap Trick, and more.
Kooky Guest Star(s) Does having Vince Gill and K-pop stars Wonder Girls on the same disc count?
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic Train work their own ''Calling All Angels'' into a strummy, earnest ''Joy to the World.''
Will You Hear it in Church? If you attend Our Lady of Perpetual Divas, yes — Jordin Sparks and Xtina both provide godly ballads.

Rating 3 trees

Artist Lady Antebellum On This Winter's Night
What's the Christmas Mood? A gentle, caroling stroll through the countryside.
Kooky Guest Star(s) None, unless you count the Christmas spirit. Three's a crowd!
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic A snoozy ''All I Want for Christmas Is You'' feels more like all they really want is a nice nap.
Will You Hear it in Church? Totally. Their ''The First Noel'' is devout enough to play at your grandma's Bible group.

Rating 2½ trees

Artist Various Artists Holidays Rule
What's the Christmas Mood? Putting a little indie jangle in your jingle with the Shins, fun., and some guy named Paul McCartney.
Kooky Guest Star(s) Well, you'd swear the Shins were the Beach Boys on ''Wonderful Christmastime.''
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic The Civil Wars turn classic carol ''I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'' into a lovely Appalachian lullaby.
Will You Hear it in Church? Punch Brothers' prettily banjo-plucky ''O Come, O Come, Emmanuel'' deserves a spot at services.

Rating 3½ trees

Artist Blake Shelton Cheers, it's Christmas.
What's the Christmas Mood? A honky-tonking, have-another-beer-with-your-Yule-log shindig.
Kooky Guest Star(s) The Voice finalist Xenia joins in to help Shelton ring those ''Silver Bells.''
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic The standards are pretty...standard. Skip to the twang-banging original ''Santa's Got a Choo Choo Train'' instead.
Will You Hear it in Church? Sure, especially ''There's a New Kid in Town.'' (The town is Bethlehem, get it?)

Rating 2 trees

Artist Colbie Caillat Christmas in the Sand
What's the Christmas Mood? Think less hot cocoa by the fire, more cocoa butter on the beach.
Kooky Guest Star(s) Gavin DeGraw, fully Rat Pack ring-a-ding on ''Baby It's Cold Outside.''
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic Her ''Silver Bells'' goes to Hawaii — and original ''Christmas in the Sand'' features (yes, Virginia) a surfing Santa.
Will You Hear it in Church? Unlikely, unless Church is the name of a breezy new brunch spot in Malibu.

Rating 3 trees

Rod Stewart Merry Christmas, Baby
What's the Christmas Mood? Tree trimming with your jolly, raspy uncle, all hopped up on eggnog and nostalgia.
Kooky Guest Star(s) Ella Fitzgerald from beyond the grave, on ''What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?''
Obligatory Tweak on a Classic A bombastic ''We Three Kings'' with Mary J. Blige sounds like it came straight from Jesus Christ Superstar.
Will You Hear it in Church? Hmm. Not the ''Take those pants off, Mr. Claus'' boogie-woogie of ''Red-Suited Super Man.''

Rating 2½ trees

Originally posted Oct 26, 2012 Published in issue #1231 Nov 02, 2012 Order article reprints
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