Amidst all of the classic Christmas songs performed on new holiday albums, you can normally find a few original songs on their way to becoming future classics. See if you can find your next favorite holiday song among this list of 10 new Adult Pop holiday releases.
Written by Amy Ray for Holly Happy Days, "Mistletoe" captures the quiet moments between two people late at night in a way you may not have heard before in a holiday song. According to Amy, “I was thinking about writing something that was tied to the season in a way that was less Christmas oriented, but had that emotional feeling around the holiday time, whether you’re Jewish or Christian or Buddhist or whatever.” No matter what holiday you celebrate, you will be hard-pressed to find a more romantic song to share with that someone special.
Up until this year, Matt Morris’s claim to fame was his time spent on the Mickey Mouse Club in the 90s, but his major label debut When Everything Breaks Open proved he had more to offer the world than just cheesy covers of pop songs. “My First Snow” has a country feel, with a shuffling rhythm and floating fiddle that frames Matt Morris’s gentle, reminiscent vocals well. For those who don’t have someone special to share Christmas with, this might be your theme song.
The three ladies of Wilson Phillips sound like they never stopped recording together with their new holiday album Christmas in Harmony. There are several original songs included on the collection, including the joyful “Christmastime,” co-written by Chynna Phillips and longtime collaborator/producer Glen Ballard. The track spotlights just how great each lady’s vocals are solo as well as combined in tight harmonies.
Originally released in April in conjunction with the “Idol Gives Back” episode of American Idol, "Universal Child" is Annie Lennox at her best, stripped down with a piano accompaniment. While not a pure holiday song, the theme of children and the promise they hold still seems to fit the holiday vibe. The remainder of Annie Lennox’s album A Christmas Cornucopia covers more traditional Christmas fare, but “Universal Child” holds its own.
“Oh Santa” is probably the most high-profile new Christmas song this year. Mariah Carey has a knack for catchy Christmas songs, as shown by the enduring legacy of her “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which has been covered multiple times this year, including by Lady Antebellum. While that song had its inspiration from 60s girl groups, “Oh Santa” seems to draw from multiple sources, including a chorus that sounds like “Mickey” by Toni Basil. This is a fun song that kids will be jumping around to for years to come, making Merry Christmas II You a must-have for the holidays.
The duo that co-wrote Katharine McPhee’s 2010 single “Terrified” record their own song to celebrate the holidays in a New York state of mind for the holiday collection Gift Wrapped II: Snowed In. When you live in a big city, it is still easy to miss friends and family that can’t be there with you, but “Wintertime in New York” is about holding on tighter to those that you do have close by. While former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi’s vocals are front and center, this track wouldn’t have the same impact without Jason Reeves’s strong vocal backing. Do we have the makings of a new pop duo?
Released digitally on the tail end of the holiday season in 2009, America’s Holiday Harmony finds the duo utilizing their trademark harmonies to update classic holiday songs, but the highlight here is “Christmas in California.” If you like your holiday music a bit non-traditional, this track is the way to go, with an arrangement that would not be unexpected on a Beach Boys collection. Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell carry on their tradition of unique harmonies and standout production that harkens back to their classic hits like “Ventura Highway.”
Despite getting off to a slow start following her runner-up finish on American Idol, Katharine McPhee is proving herself to have what it takes to develop longevity in the music business. Her second release for Verve Records is Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You, and the set includes her own composition called “It’s Not Christmas Without You.” The song itself is a mellow ode to the person she wishes she was spending the holiday with, holding up a long tradition of “missing you” songs recorded by the likes of the Carpenters and Mariah Carey. In fact, Katharine McPhee’s vocals have a Mariah-like quality, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Most of the songs on this list have been very pop-sounding, but not so with the music from 2000 Grammy winner for Best New Artist Shelby Lynne. Her new album Merry Christmas is a pretty subdued effort for the most part, but “Ain’t Nothin’ Like Christmas” is a more upbeat romp through memories of a Christmastime long ago. If you like your holiday music laid back and relaxed without being sleepy, Shelby Lynne’s CD might be the way to go.
Every song on this list is an original composition except for “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” However, what the song lacks in original composition it makes up for with its original pairing of two male actors from the Fox TV show Glee. It is an inspired version, with Chris Colfer and Darren Criss matching some of the most classic versions of the song first utilized in 1948 in the film Neptune’s Daughter, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. "Baby It's Cold Outside" appears on the compilation Glee: The Christmas Album.