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Volume 4, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Spread holiday cheer with seasonal favorites

Breaking News Entertainment Staff

In an effort to bring readers good Christmas cheer, Breaking News staff writers spent the past week gathering around a roaring fire listening to stacks of holiday music CDs. It was difficult to pare it down, but the following is our list of the best Christmas CDs. Mele Kalikimaka!

Ed De La Garza, staff writer

3.) Various artists, Now That's What I Call Christmas

Would Nat King Cole be spinning in his grave if he knew his definitive rendition of "The Christmas Song" was on the same album as Britney Spears' "My Only Wish?" It's an odd combination to be sure, but the two-disc Now That's What I Call Christmas, brought to you by the same people who bring you the Now That's What I Call Music collections, is probably one of the best compilations available. Nothing sets the mood better than Cole, Dean Martin's "Let It Snow! Let it Snow! Let It Snow!" and Gene Autrey's "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer."

It also includes Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?," John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and Boyz II Men's "Silent Night."

2.) Bing Crosby, White Christmas

It can't be called Christmas if Bing Crosby isn't spinning in your stereo. He recorded the only version of "White Christmas" you ever need to hear and one of the oddest seasonal tunes ("Mele Kalikimaka").

Though it doesn't include his duet with David Bowie (you can find it on the Now collection), White Christmas is indispensible.

1.) Elvis Presley, If Every Day Was Like Christmas

Now, with so many new releases, both compilations and original recordings, one would think it'd be easy to dethrone the King from his Christmas throne. But not even the collective efforts of Ella Fitzgerald, 'N Sync and Britney Spears are enough to take Elvis Presley's spot. This collection offers the best of the King, from the 1950s rocker/crooner to the '70s-era lounge act.

The classic "Blue Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" are followed by the bluesy "Merry Christmas Baby" and the country "Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees." But the best is probably "If Every Day Was Like Christmas." He may not be hip anymore, and he's long dead, but Presley wore his sentiments on his sleeve. That's apparent on this collection.

Jake McKim, staff writer

3.) Babyface, Christmas With Babyface

It's an extremely daunting task to select my three favorite Christmas albums of all time considering there are so many classics out there, so I'll stick with ones that have been released in the past 10 years.

Let's start with Babyface's, Christmas With Babyface, a masterpiece of seasonal classics mixed with a little soul. Face covers greats like "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "The Little Drummer Boy" and "White Christmas." 

Face was at the top of his game when he released this ditty, and fans surely feel appreciative they have his silky smooth voice and complex chord structures to get them through the holiday season.

Other high points on Christmas With Babyface are his wonderful renditions of "Silent Night," "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "The Christmas Song."

2.) Christina Aguilera, My Kind of Christmas

Many people may have beef with Aguilera and her fellow bubble-gum pop acts, but on this Christmas release of 2000, the multi-octave, Mariah Carey-sound-alike separates herself from the pack.

Blasting through "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Merry Christmas, Baby" and "Oh Holy Night," Aguilera shows off her impressive vocal range without losing the Christmas spirit. The vocal acrobatics are a bit much by the end of the album, but no one can claim Aguilera can't sing after listening to My Kind of Christmas

1.) Boyz II Men, Christmas Interpretations

If there is anything wrong with Christmas Interpretations it's that it doesn't keep going and going. Recorded in 1993 when the Philly-based group was just beginning to take over the charts, Christmas Interpretations is condensed but powerful nonetheless. The Boyz performed mostly originals for this one, but did manage to cover "Silent Night" (one of the best versions of this song of all time) and "Let It Snow."

The album focuses on some of the less-cheerful themes of Christmas but then balances that by giving appreciation for what we have on this Earth. It's apparent that the Boyz put in more time and effort than the usual artist does for a holiday album. 

Christmas Interpretations is a Christmas CD that should be in every r&b music fan's collection.

Lynn Mizell, staff writer

3.) The Temptations, Best of Temptations Christmas

This year, artists young and old got in the holiday spirit and sang traditional songs as well as adding some new flavor to our favorite Christmas carols. But you have to give it to the old school -- the soulful sounds of the Temptations. The group conveys Christmas cheer with a baritone "Silent Night" as well as an alto chorus that will get anyone into the spirit of the season. I especially enjoy this album because of its smooth grooves and mellow tunes, which can be enjoyed by all ages even though it was recorded in 1979.

2.) Boyz II Men, Christmas Interpretations

Boyz II Men's single, "Let it Snow", which is an r&b collaboration with Brian McKnight, wraps you up in lovely lyrics about mistletoe and love at this joyous time of year. The group also sings about the importance of giving at during the season and an ode to those who are needy during the holidays. The closing "Silent Night" is a beautiful and unique vocal artwork that only Boyz II Men can deliver. If you want to snuggle up with that special someone as well as be in good Christmas cheer, this album will suffice.

1.) Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas

The best Christmas album belongs to an incomparable and celebrated vocalist. It wasn't a surprise when Mariah Carey's hit, "All I Want For Christmas" became an instant holiday favorite. Carey brings good tidings and cheer with a voice that is unmatched and songs you can dance to at a Christmas gathering or get cozy by the fire. The lovely "O Holy Night" is performed uniquely, encompassing Mariah's high octaves and assistance from her choir of background singers. She finishes the album by rocking with "Joy to the World" all the way to church, singing about the true meaning of Christmas.

There are a lot of really great holiday compilations, so it was hard to narrow it down to just three. I enjoy these three the most because you can rock around the Christmas tree to them as well as just relax and reflect on the importance of this time of year. To celebrate the season, any one of these choices should be sufficient for getting into the Christmas spirit.

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