This is Scott Crews’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:
(1) Sufjan Stevens – Songs for Christmas
- Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Sufjan Stevens hasn’t had any mainstream attention (no matter how much his fans think he should).
- Why You Should Listen to It: If you’ve never heard of Sufjan Stevens, it’s almost impossible to compare him to anyone else. “Sufjan Stevens: Songs for Christmas” is full of creative instrumentation, laid back tempos, and vocal harmonies, but it doesn’t have a lot of “over-production” that most albums suffer from these days. There are a few traditional Christmas songs on the disc. And it gives a lot of bang for your buck: he made the album into 5 CDs (over two hours of continuous music), and he doesn’t just do Christmas songs. It is a fantastic collection of music to get you in the Christmas spirit.
(2) MercyMe – The Christmas Sessions
- Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because when your top 40 radio station got done playing “I Can Only Imagine,” you were okay with it.
- Why You Should Be Listening to It: Because what made “I Can Only Imagine” a hit makes MercyMe a great band, and it isn’t their fault that your radio station played that song into the ground. The Christmas Sessions contains all the Christmas classics with new arrangements and amazing vocals. Tracks to check out: “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” and “Joesph’s Lullaby.”
(3) Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas
- Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because geeky guys don’t listen to Mariah Carey.
- Why You Should Be Listening to It: Because there’s a reason it’s a top selling Christmas CD every year. It’s really, really good. It is important to realize that “Merry Christmas” is from back in the day when Mariah Carey was still making REAL music, and not the booty-pop garbage that her producers are pumping out now. It is possible to like this CD and completely preserve one’s manliness. Tracks to check out: “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” NOTE: On iTunes, there are two editions of this CD – one is 7.99 and one is 9.90. From what I can tell, there is no difference… so save two bucks if you can!
(4) Andy Williams – The Andy Williams Christmas Album
- Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because if you’re under 30 years old, you’ve probably never heard of him.
- Why You Should Be Listening to It: Because Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra are good… and Andy Williams is just as good (or probably even better). Sure, listen to Frank the rest of the year when you want big, smooth, classic vocals. But for Christmas, Andy Williams hits a home run. Check out “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” and “The Christmas Song.”
(5) Relient K – Let It Snow Baby… Let it Reindeer
- Why You Aren’t Listening to It: Because either you’ve never heard of them or you don’t like pop/punk at Christmas.
- Why You Should Be Listening to It: There are two reasons to listen. The first is if you like pop/punk music (surging drum beats, driving guitars, vocal harmony). The second is if you like phenomenal Christmas music. If that is you, don’t go buy the entire CD. But DO go buy the two tracks “I Celebrate the Day” and “Silent Night / Away In A Manger.” They sound nothing like the rest of the CD, and “I Celebrate the Day” is a beautiful Jimmy Eat World-esque piano ballad… and literally the greatest song ever written about Christmas. Don’t go another Christmas without this song – you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
Okay, there you go. What do you think? What albums did I leave off? Remember: it’s the music that we AREN’T listening to… so, “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” is NOT eligible!