New Holiday Music of Note

2013 CMA Music Festival - Day 3

Aidin Vaziri | With the holidays approaching, we dish out lumps of coal for some of this year’s noteworthy (and generally terrible) seasonal releases. Worst rating: five lumps.

Kelly Clarkson

The gift: “Wrapped in Red” Workshop: RCA What’s naughty or nice: The “American Idol” alum evokes a dizzying dash of Phil Spector on the title track of her new Christmas album and the Darlene Love-channeling original “Underneath the Tree.” If only she extended the Wall of Sound to some of the other selections here. Clarkson’s covers of the standards (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “White Christmas”) are disappointingly conventional, while not even harmony partners Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood can help rouse her somber “Silent Night.” Lumps of coal: 3

Susan Boyle

The gift: “Home for Christmas” Workshop: Columbia What’s naughty or nice: The opening track on the new holiday album by YouTube/”Britain’s Got Talent” sensation Susan Boyle – the follow-up to 2010’s “The Gift” – will make everyone gasp for all the wrong reasons: It’s a posthumous duet with Elvis Presley on “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” Forget how it happened – the better question is, why? The rest of the album is as stuffy as you might expect, all pseudo-operatic vocals and molasses arrangements, save for an oddly swaying orchestral take on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Lumps of coal: 5

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