It’s hard to put a new spin on holiday classics like “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night.” Yet every year, several artists try, hoping their rendition may stand out from the crowd and become part of the Christmas musical canon.
A few notable albums from this year’s hopefuls:
Anita Baker, “Christmas Fantasy” — The husky-voiced R&B diva brings her sensual tone to classics ranging from “O Come All Ye Faithful” to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
Brian Wilson, “What I Really Want For Christmas” — One of the most melodic rockers takes on melodies including “Silent Night” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”
Jane Monheit, “This Season” — The jazz siren with the lush pipes covers traditional songs like “Have a Merry Little Christmas” and “This Christmas.”
Martha Stewart, “The Holiday Collection” — Can she get any more overexposed? The recently freed felon, who seems to be making up for lost time with two TV talk shows and a host of new products, puts out this three-disc box set. Thankfully, she doesn’t sing. Instead, she selects the best holiday music for your soiree, from traditional pop to jazz to classical. And of course, there are recipes and tips to make your own decorations.
Diana Krall, “Christmas Songs” — Just the cover, which features Krall leaning back in a sexy pose, gives you an idea of the mood the album inspires. Seductive and sassy, Krall is joined here by the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
The LeeVees, “Hanukkah Rocks” — Plenty of humor, with tracks like “Jewish Girls (at the Matzoh Ball)” and “At the Timeshare.”
Various Artists, “A John Waters Christmas” — Anyone who picks up a Christmas album with an “explicit lyrics” tag on it probably isn’t worried about offending anyone. In fact, that may be the goal. If so, this Christmas CD from director John Waters will more than deliver, with songs like “Happy Birthday Jesus,” “Santa Claus Is a Black Man,” and “Little Mary Christmas.”
Yourself, “U Sing It Christmas” — Hey, why should those “American Idol” kids have all the fun? This album lets you sing Christmas classics and have an instant karaoke party. Pop it into your computer, sing and e-mail it to the universe for a laugh — or to become the next Nat King Cole.