Music Review: Jingle all the way with these seasonal sounds

Angelene Sun, Columnist

Music is an irreplaceable aspect of the Christmas season — it is on the radio, in the shopping malls and played during those picturesque winter moments, as family members curl up by the fireplace with hot chocolate. Each year, a new crop of Christmas music selections are released by a wide range of artists. This year is no exception. Whether it’s for a gift or just for your own listening, here’s our rundown of some holiday albums worth checking out this Christmas.

Colbie Caillat: “Christmas in the Sand”

Colbie Caillat fixes a hole in our collective Christmas consciousness with her new holiday album. “Christmas in the Sand,” released Oct. 23, is a sunny, breezy holiday platter for those who have never seen snowflakes in December. Known for her light touch, Caillat rocks a little bit harder than usual in the album. This is especially true in the two songs “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Winter Wonderland,” both with an insistent electronic pulse. Though most songs in the album are familiar, the sound is not — it is lively and bright, sunnier than many other Christmas albums.

Lady Antebellum: “On This Winter’s Night” 

Country stars have jumped on the Christmas music bandwagon, too. On Oct. 22, Lady Antebellum released its first full-length Christmas album “On This Winter’s Night,” which features the group’s Target-exclusive 2010 EP “A Merry Little Christmas” plus six new covers of traditional holiday hits. Vocally, Lady Antebellum is practically built for Christmas albums. The trio’s chemistry stokes coals in the fireplace and fits smoothly into the Christmas atmosphere. Musically, the group took few risks on the 12 songs. For the most part, it fails to add the modern touch that characterized its earlier three certified-platinum albums. However, highlights include a spicy rendition of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas,” which deviates markedly from the original with lush orchestral moments, string sections and more full-band arrangements; and the original title song “On This Winter’s Night” co-written by the trio and Grammy-winning songwriter Tom Douglas.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John: “This Christmas” 

“Grease” stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta reunite for a holiday collection titled “This Christmas,” released Nov. 13. Their voices are a little overwhelmed by the production throughout the album, but their interpretations of classic Christmas songs and their duet technique still shine. In addition to the 12 classic covers, there is also a brand new original track titled “I Think You Might Like It,” written by John Farrar, who also wrote the smash hit “Grease” single “You’re the One That I Want.” This single track is worth the price of the album. The other track worth putting on your Christmas playlist is “Deck the Halls,” which also features singer-songwriter James Taylor. The perfect harmony sounds like three old friends caroling on Christmas Eve. The ‘80s superstars definitely offer an opportune album for the holiday when a burst of good cheer is in order.

Nothing says Christmas like a good, old fashioned carol. Now put on some Christmas music to help you through finals week and embrace a melodious holiday season.