Home Read ChristMASS 2019: 12 Rockers & Popsters Rocking & Popping

ChristMASS 2019: 12 Rockers & Popsters Rocking & Popping

From Robbie Williams to Rob Halford, here are the season's big rock & pop discs.

British popsters, American rock legends, metal gods, Scandinavian synth kings and more — there are plenty of ways to rock around the Christmas tree this holiday season. Here are a dozen discs to spin at your next Yule bash, complete with streaming links. Just push play and get the party started.

Robbie Williams
The Christmas Present

THE PRESS RELEASE:The Christmas Present is Robbie’s 13th studio album and another huge milestone in the glittering career of one of Britain’s most-loved artists. Written and recorded in a variety of locations including London, Stoke-on-Trent, Los Angeles and Vancouver, the album sees Robbie working once more with long-time collaborator Guy Chambers, who produced the majority of the record with Richard Flack. The double album will feature two discs – Christmas Past and Christmas Future – both including a brilliant mixture of original songs and special festive covers with some star guest appearances by Jamie Cullum, Robbie’s father Peter Conway, Rod Stewart, boxing champ Tyson Fury and Bryan Adams. Robbie says: “I’m beyond excited to announce my first ever Christmas album. I’ve done a lot in my career and releasing this record is another dream come true. Making this album has been so much fun and I can’t wait for you all to hear it.”

Chicago Christmas

THE PRESS RELEASE:Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Chicago will celebrate the holidays this year with a new Christmas album that spotlights the legendary group’s trademark sound on eight original songs, two yuletide favorites and one timeless classic that embraces the spirit of hope. Produced by founding member Lee Loughnane, Chicago Christmas is the 37th album of the band’s career and its fourth holiday collection. Whereas its previous releases focused more on traditional Christmas songs, the new record spotlights holiday music the band wrote especially for the album, including All Over The World, (Because) It’s Christmastime, and I’m Your Santa Claus. The album also features R&B and ballad versions of Merry Christmas, I Love You, a song that Loughnane wrote with John Durrill of The Ventures, the best-selling instrumental band of all time.”

George Michael & Wham!
Last Christmas Soundtrack

THE PRESS RELEASE:Last Christmas, the soundtrack album, features 3 fabulous Wham! songs including Last Christmas and Everything She Wants as well as 12 of George Michael’s best loved tracks from his solo years. Speaking of her meeting with George Michael that led to the making of the film, Emma Thompson said: “The wisdom and emotional scope of George’s lyrics have always amazed me. So many feel like they were written for the movie. After I met George and experienced his compassion and understanding up close, I realised that in fact the movie was written for those lyrics.” All songs were written, arranged and produced by George Michael, except This Is How (We Want You To Get High), which was co-written and co-produced by George Michael and James Jackman, and they will appeal to fans who grew up with his music and introduce a new generation to George Michael’s extraordinary musical virtuosity and range.”

Edwin McCain
Merry Christmas, Baby

THE PRESS RELEASE:Edwin McCain delivers some extra holiday cheer this year to his fans by surprising them with his very first Christmas album, Merry Christmas, Baby. “I’ve snuck a Christmas song or two into my sets over the years, and that’s always been a lot of fun,” says McCain. “So to be able to do an entire album is a really great feeling and I hope it helps spread a little holiday spirit around.” On Merry Christmas, Baby, McCain sings heartfelt renditions of beloved songs including The Christmas Song, Silent Night and a rollicking Jingle Bell Rock. He even pays homage to his life on the road with Christmas in New Orleans and Mele Kalikimaka.”

Rob Halford with Family and Friends

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The album mixes holiday classics with all-new compositions, and will appeal to lovers of traditional holiday music and headbangers alike. “The great thing about heavy metal is it’s got these kinds of multiple dimensions,” explains the man also known as the Metal God. “I think when you look at it from an outside point of view – if you’re not really familiar with the metal scene – it can look pretty intimidating. And it is a very strong, powerful experience. But it comes at different levels. I think the music that we’ve made on Celestial, for example, gives a display of that. Metal maniacs – as we call ourselves – are just as ready for the holidays as everybody else. And what we’ve tried to do with this music is to reach out to as many of those metal dimensions as we possibly can … I went away and listened to a lot holiday music and Christmas carols. Traditional stuff. 12 tracks – including original tracks that I’m particularly excited about. And in that way, because of the dimensions of each song and the messages of each song, I think we cover a really broad platform. To me, more than anything, I wanted it to have its own characteristics and be a little bit more different than the regular rock n’ roll Christmas album.”

Magne Furuholmen
White Xmas Lies

THE PRESS RELEASE:White Xmas Lies is a-ha member Magne Furuholmen’s third solo album, and as the title suggests, it is an album with a different take on Christmas – A melancholic winter-album consisting of 15 original new songs, as well as two surprising cover-versions. Furuholmen says he “wanted to make an album as an antidote to the ‘schmaltzy Christmas-music which is spewed out every year…a seemingly never-ending stream of cheesy versions of existing Christmas songs. I am lucky to have a family around me, but for many people, Christmas is a rough time, and a harsh reminder of loss, longing, and crippling loneliness. I wanted to try and make an album which would be meaningful also to those who fall outside our commercial Christmas frenzy – an album which looks at the more melancholic, darker sides to Christmas: broken family ties, things we sweep under the rug, resentment hidden behind fake, jocular smiles – an album for holiday contemplation, not just sentimental decor. I am ashamed to be part of a Christmas which these days seems to be mostly about buying more and more shit that no one needs or even really wants…a tacky, superficial celebration in stark contrast to the original Christmas message of hope, charity, and compassion,” says Furuholmen.”

Various Artists
This Warm December, A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 3

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Each year as the winter holidays draw closer, the questions start coming from fans… “When are you guys going to put out another This Warm December?” and each year we reply, “Hopefully next year”. Well the time has finally come and this is the year. Brushfire Records along with Jack Johnson are excited to announce our latest Brushfire release, This Warm December, A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 3. The album features both original and holiday-classic songs from Jack Johnson and friends, including G. Love, Bahamas, Mason Jennings, Zach Rogue (of Rogue Wave), Zach Gill, Paula Fuga, Lebo (of ALO), ALO, Adam Topol, Mimi Naja (of Fruition) and John Craigie.”

Various Artists
You Wish: A Merge Records Holiday Album

THE PRESS RELEASE: “To usher in the holiday season and cap off a fantastic 30th year as a label, we present You Wish: A Merge Records Holiday Album, featuring both original music and covers of traditional songs by Merge artists, all newly recorded for this compilation. Not surprisingly, the sonic spectrum on You Wish is diverse. William Tyler delivers a gentle instrumental cover of Big Star’s Jesus Christ, but not before Mike Krol launches into Won’t Be Alone Tonight, a self-described “fast Christmas rocker about love and happiness.” The Telekinesis-penned Christmas Time Is Here (Uh Oh) almost appeared on a Cheap Trick holiday album, but Michael Lerner made the song his own for our record. The lyrical subject matter swings just as wide: Mac McCaughan & Annie Hayden yearn for snow on Down We Go (Sledding Song), while The Essex Green crave warmer climes on the winking Green Christmas. Lucinda Williams’ voice remains as singular as ever, joining Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor for a heartbreaking rendition of the John Prine classic Christmas in Prison. Mikal Cronin’s song was inspired by his childhood experience of starring in a present-stealing, Santa-drugging Christmas musical (those exist?). Sure, You Wish may seem contradictory at times, but it’s also a reflection of the season and the mix of emotions that come with it.”

Andrew Bird

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Andrew Bird unveils HARK!, a collection of holiday songs. Along brand new, original tracks Alabaster and Night’s Falling, the EP features a handful of beautifully realized holiday classics, including Oh Holy Night, White Christmas, Vince Guaraldi’s epic Skating, and more. “I’ve never had the impulse to make a holiday record until last February,” says Bird. “I found myself enjoying the Vince Guaraldi Peanuts records and thought I’d book a few days in the studio. It was an excuse to play some classic jazz with my favorite musicians. A lot of folks have a hard time with the holidays but they serve a purpose to us as a people- to create comfort, warmth and atmosphere within the darkness and the cold that can crush one’s spirit. There are a couple originals in here that address this idea of light and warmth in the darkness as well as some classics that have some nostalgic resonance with me. Hark! What sounds come flowing alabaster?”

Chris Mann
Christmas Jukebox

THE PRESS RELEASE:Christmas Jukebox, the new holiday EP from former Voice contestant Chris Mann, is anything but traditional. Mann creates a genre-bending exploration bringing fun and funk into the holidays. From electronic dance takes on classics like Up On The Housetop to street vibing and retro-pop originals Happy Holidays and Christmas Love, Mann’s Christmas Jukebox will raise your holiday spirits while you raise your glass. “I want people to have fun!” Mann says. “These songs are all about making the holidays fun, different and new. I love singing the classics, but sometimes you just wanna turn up the volume and let loose!”

Letters to Cleo
OK Christmas

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Boston alternative rock band Letters To Cleo will unveil their new holiday EP OK Christmas. The four song EP features covers of The KinksFather Christmas, Elvis Presley’s If I Get Home On Christmas Day, and The DogmaticsX Mas Time (Sure Don’t Feel Like It). The release will also include a new song from the band titled Miss You This Christmas. Letters To Cleo’s last release was 2016’s Back to Nebraska EP.”

Symphony North
The Bell Ringer

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Featuring former members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Dream Theater’s James Labrie and Jordan Rudess, Symphony North’s debut release The Bell Ringer is actually a double CD release, since there’s close to two hours worth of music. Whlie songs on The Bell Ringer can be listened to individually and out of order, if taken together in the order in which they appear, they tell a larger story about a destitute man who takes the only job available to him on Christmas Eve — ringing a bell to collect change for others — and who learns that his own difficult life has uniquely qualified him to be the one who can help those with whom he comes in contact on this Christmas Eve. Having searched a lifetime for “a place to be,” our Bell Ringer learns a new kind of peace through a gained sense of self-worth.”