Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
The ‘Tribune’s’ annual best — and worst — holiday music
Holiday albums » The Tribune’s guide to the best — and worst — of end of the year releases is here.

< Previous Page

The Average

Gary U.S. Bonds, "Christmas Is On!"

At a glance

Are Christmas albums dead?

In an age of iTunes and Pandora and other on-demand web radio stations, have the industry of pop stars churning out Christmas albums fallen apart? Or are Salt Lake City music lovers still tied to to holiday music-listening habits of yore? Send thoughts to David Burger at dburger@sltrib.com, with the words “holiday music” in the email subject line.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Grade: B-

The 73-year-old R&B rocker’s first Christmas album shows you exactly where Bruce Springsteen got his inspiration for his rollicking Jersey Shore bar-band style. (Bonds’ "Quarter to Three" was a favorite Springsteen cover in the early years.) While Bonds’ voice sounds a little tired, the energy on this rock ’n’ roll album is front and center, and the record is at its best when Bonds and his tight band trot out originals (written by collaborator Paul Zuno) rather than the traditionals.

Kenny Vance & The Planotones, "Mr. Santa"

Grade: B-

Kenny Vance’s musical tastes haven’t evolved much from the 1960s, when, as an original member of Jay and the Americans, he opened for the Beatles and Rolling Stones on their first U.S. tours, but that’s not an entirely bad thing. In addition to three original holiday songs, Vance brings an air of nostalgia to the proceedings with recordings that sound straight out of the doo-wop era. But any album that has not just one but two songs about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer automatically gets grade demotions.

Lady Antebellum, "On This Winter’s Night"

story continues below
story continues below

Grade: C+

With only one original song (the title track), the album from the country trio features 11 of the most overplayed holiday songs in Christian history, such as "Silver Bells," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and the execrable "A Holly Jolly Christmas." The saving grace is that lead singers Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott are, bar none, the best coed singing duo in the Christian world, regardless of genre. But as you listen to the album, one questions arises: Why, oh, why would anyone turn "Blue Christmas" into a holly, jolly up-tempo dance track?

Elvis Presley, "The Classic Christmas Album"

Grade: C+

This compilation from recordings from 1971, 1966 and 1957 (plus a remasters duets album) is mainly for Elvis fanatics. Though many of the songs seem dated, there are a few gems including "The First Noel" and "Silent Night." The more rock-sounding tunes don’t work quite as well.

Francesca Battistelli, "Christmas"

Grade: C+

The fourth album by Christian singer Francesca Battistelli is an overproduced pop confection, a mix of forgettable new songs and some Christmas classics (like her faux-jazz renditions of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Christmas Song"). Battistelli’s lucid voice shines when she lets the songs speak for themselves, as on a country-ish "Joy to the World" that truly sounds joyful.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.