A Very Reality Rocks Xmas: Holiday Music From 'Idol,' 'The Voice' & More - Rolling Stone
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A Very Reality Rocks Xmas: Holiday Music From ‘Idol,’ ‘The Voice’ & More

Photo courtesy of Kris Allen

‘Tis the season. “Idol” season, that is–and “Voice” season, and “Sing-Off” season. Yes, many singing-show contestants have holiday music out right now, to bring you warm tidings during those cold and lonely weeks between when “The X Factor” ends on December 20 and “American Idol” relaunches on January 16.

If you’re making a list and checking it twice when shopping for the reality fan in your life, here are some suggested musical stocking-stuffers!

Kris Allen, Waiting For Christmas – It’s a merry Krismas indeed for fans of the Season 8 “Idol” champ, whose five-song holiday EP just came out last week. It features an adorable cover of the Burl Ives/Rudolph/Rankin Bass classic “Holly Jolly Christmas” (along with traditional carols “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and “White Christmas”), as well as probably the coolest/weirdest cover art of any holiday album released this year (see above). If you don’t like this, you are a total Scrooge…or at least a total Simon Cowell. Buy it on iTunes

Brooke White, White Christmas – It’s a [Brooke] White Christmas with this hip holiday album from one of the hippest contestants to ever grace the “Idol” stage. The Season 7 songstress puts her own spin on some traditional fare, including a couple of the aforementioned staple songs covered by Kris Allen, along with wonderful covers of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and originals like “I Love Christmas (The Girls With Glasses)” and “California Christmas.” An instant indie classic! Buy it on iTunes

James Durbin, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – The Season 10 “Idol” metal-man’s punkabilly cover of Elvis Presley’s holiday hit is perfect listening for the rock ‘n’ roll reveler who prefers a not-so-silent night. And it just might be the most hard-rawkin’ holiday headbanger anthem since Spinal Tap’s “Christmas The Devil.” Give metal Christmas a chance, and download it! Buy it on iTunes

Scotty McCreery, Christmas With Scotty McCreery – Those who prefer a calmer, not-a-creature-was-stirring type of Christmas should probably pick up this cozy country collection from James’s Season 10 castmate, Scotty, instead. The Season 10 “Idol” champion’s holiday album, which has already gone gold, features feelgood singalongs that the whole family can appreciate. Baby lock them doors and turn them lights down low, kick back with some non-alcoholic egg nog, and enjoy. Buy it on iTunes

Chris Mann, Home For Christmas – This Season 2 “Voice” top four finalist brilliantly released his Walmart-only Xmas EP to coincide with his regular studio album, Roads–thus ensuring that Mann fans can enjoy his music year-round. An operatic compilation of carols like “O Holy Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Ave Maria,” and “The First Noel,” this is the perfect gift for that relative of yours who digs Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and Il Divo. I have a feeling it’ll be a hot Walmart seller every holiday season. Buy it on Walmart.com

Pentatonix, PTXmas – Here, the “Sing-Off” Season 3 wunderkinds somehow manage to mimic the sounds of a jillion silver bells and an entire megachurch-sized choir with their five amazing voices, on gorgeous a cappella recordings like “Carol Of The Bells” and “Angels We Have Heard On High.” The way they sing on this EP (which I may have inadvertently named) is nothing short of a Christmas miracle! Buy it on iTunes

Cee Lo Green, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment – Yes, coaches and judges’ holiday records count, too–especially ones that feature guest appearances by THE MUPPETS! “All I Need Is Love” is seriously my new holiday jam. Magic Moment is a surprisingly sedate and family-friendly affair from the “Voice” coach (you won’t hear the seasonal version of “F*** You” here), but hearing Cee Lo get all Seussical on “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” still feels a little subversive and twisted. Such is the magic of Cee Lo Green! Buy it on iTunes

Blake Shelton, Cheers, It’s Christmas Cee Lo’s “Voice” co-star Blake has a new holiday album out, too. And with guest appearances by Blake’s†wife Miranda Lambert (and well as her band, Pistol Annies), Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, Blake’s new BFF Michael Buble (is Adam Levine jealous?), and even Season 1 “Voice” Team Blake finalist Xenia, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. For some†Santa-sized belly-laughs, also check out Blake’s NBC’s holiday special, “Blake Shelton’s Not-So-Family Christmas.” It might be the funniest music-related Christmas thing I’ve seen on television since those old MTV Christmas commercials starring Billy Squier and Pee Wee Herman. Buy it on iTunes

Drew Ryniewicz, Hello, It’s Me EP – The ethereal Season 1 “X Factor” darling’s new live EP features two holiday classics: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “Silent Night.” And she sounds just like a Christmas angel. Buy it on iTunes

Haley Reinhart & Casey Abrams, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – This duet between the jazzbo darlings of “Idol” Season 10 came out last year, and I now consider it a holiday classic. Haley and Casey’s smooth voices go down as easy as hot-buttered rum, and just seeing them together in their accompanying video, goofing off as they drape each other in twinkling Christmas lights, still fills me with comfort and joy. Buy it on iTunes

Manila Luzon & Sahara Davenport, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – These “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums, a real-life couple for more than six years, were tragically torn apart earlier this year when Sahara, aka Antoine Ashley, shockingly died of heart failure at age 27. Sahara and Manila’s own “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” duet from 2011, while hardly the vocally strongest on this list, brings back warm Christmas memories of the duo in happier times–so it gets a mention here, and I refuse to RuPaulogize for this.

But wait, there’s more…

Bryan Keith, “O Holy Night” – This season’s “Voice” Team Adam finalist wasted no time in getting some music out there since his elimination from the top 10, releasing this smooth holiday cover to coincide with “The Voice’s” finale week. Buy it on iTunes

Clay Aiken, Merry Christmas With Love – If you didn’t buy this for your grandma or great-aunt back when it first came out in 2004 (and set a new record for fastest-selling holiday album in the Soundscan era), it’s still not too late to show you care with the gift of Clay. Buy it on iTunes

David Archuleta, Christmas From The Heart – The elfin Season 7 “Idol” runner-up’s 2009 album of mostly traditional tunes features a duet with Charice, and it’s about as painfully cute as Rudolph’s claymation girlfriend, Clarice. Buy it on iTunes

Michael Sarver, Christmas – Already have the McCreery and Shelton albums and still want more country Christmassy goodness? This Season 8 “Idol” everyman’s 2010 album of holiday standards should provide the proper down-home soundtrack. Buy it on iTunes

Danny Gokey, “Tennessee Christmas” – Technically, Danny is from Milwaukee. Not Tennessee. But hey, that never stopped the Season 8 “Idol” third-placer from going country before, and it certainly didn’t stop him on this 2010 single. Buy it on iTunes

Kimberley Locke, Christmas – The Season 3 “Idol” powerhouse (a regular at Christmas-tree-lighting ceremonies across the country) belts out 11 festive favorites on this 2007 release. Buy it on iTunes

Mandisa, It’s Christmas – The “Idol” Season 5 gospel diva recently reissued this 2008 album, which features duets with CCM stars Matthew West and Michael W. Smith. Buy it on iTunes

Chris Sligh, Christmas EP – It’s no surprise that, as a Christian music artist, this Season 6 “Idol” contestant eventually released some Christmas music. What is surprising is how he put an unexpectedly modern spin on old favorites like “What Child Is This?” on this 2009 EP.†Buy it on iTunes

Lacey Brown, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – Remember redheaded coffeehouse girl Lacey Brown from “American Idol” Seasons 8 and 9? She released this sweet holiday single last year. If you missed it then, here’s your chance to give it a seasonal spin. Buy it on iTunes

William Hung, Hung For The Holidays – Hey, it’s THE perfect gag gift! But you may want to remain secret when you give this at your next Secret Santa soiree. Just sayin’. Buy it on iTunes

Related links:

Blake Shelton’s funny Christmas skit

Cee Lo Green’s Christmas special

Yahoo Music’s holiday guide

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