There’s been a bounty of Christmas cheer pouring out of Nashville this season, so as we officially begin the holiday season, we look at some of the more creative original tracks country artists are releasing this time of year that may find their way into your stocking.
Dan + Shay, “Take Me Home For Christmas” and “Christmas Isn’t Christmas”
Reigning CMA duo of the year Dan + Shay’s two originals this year serve as flip sides of the same coin: one spritely, the other sad. The upbeat “Take Me Home For Christmas” is a bouncy ode to going home with your beloved to their hometown for the holidays, so you can go caroling and relive her childhood memories. “Christmas Isn’t Christmas” is a lush piano and string ballad that plays on the pair’s gorgeous harmonies about how Christmas is “just a day at the end of December” if you’re apart from the one you love—though Jesus may agree to differ.
Carrie Underwood & John Legend, “Hallelujah”
Not to be confused with the Leonard Cohen classic, the new tune featured on Underwood’s chart-topping holiday album “My Gift” combines both romance, the meaning of the holiday, and hope. In lesser hands, it would seem a mighty task to mix all three, but for Underwood and Legend and their heavenly voices, it’s a glorious testament to all three.
Gary LeVox feat. Stephan Moccio, “Christmas Will Be Different This Year”
Truer words were never spoken. For so many of us, the holiday will be nothing like we’re used to. In this somber ballad, Rascal Flatts’ frontman LeVox sings about maintaining Christmas traditions even in the absence of loved ones. While it seems pandemic inspired–especially the line about the empty church pews– the sad fact is it is just as impactful for anyone who has lost someone as we head into the holiday season for whatever reason.
Florida Georgia Line, “Lit This Year”
Sure, FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley plug their own whiskey line in this ditty, but the twangy song is so silly and good-natured that it’s hard to protest the blatant advertising. “That Christmas tree ain’t the only thing getting lit this year,” they sing as they even endorse getting drunk with Santa. Hey, it’s 2020. Anything goes.
Kelly Clarkson feat. Brett Eldredge, “Under the Mistletoe”
Clarkson takes it back to the ‘60s with this frolicky track about trying to woo your crush under the mistletoe. Clarkson and Eldredge have a fun back and forth on a tune filled with sweet anticipation.
Dolly Parton with Michael Buble, “Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas”
This original from Parton’s recent No. 1 album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, is reminiscent of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with all the sexiness and none of the now-perceived tone-deafness of the ‘40s track. Parton and Buble coo aplenty as they trade lines about their intimate plans for the holiday.
Jimmie Allen with Louis York feat. The Shindellas, “What Does Christmas Mean”
Allen and friends have created a jubilant tune that sounds straight out of the classic A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, which is about as good as it gets. Between the toe-tapping melody, and deceptively longing lyrics and the backing girl vocals, this sounds like a new perennial
Ingrid Andress, “Christmas Always Finds Me”
Triple Grammy nominee Andress shines on this elegant piano and strings ballad about no matter how many times she moves, no matter how old she gets, Christmas still finds her. Moving and simply lovely, this one is likely to start getting covered by other artists in the years to come and could become a classic.
Runaway June, “When I Think About Christmas” and “Christmas on the Radio”
Two originals from Runaway June’s five-track EP are sure to bring the festive cheer, especially the peppy “Christmas on the Radio,” which salutes holiday songs of years past, while the pedal-steel and harmony-filled “When I Think About Christmas” feels like the perfect tune for a quick whirl around the dance floor with a glass of eggnog at the ready.
Mitchell Tenpenny, “Neon Christmas”
The one original and title track on Tenpenny’s holiday EP released earlier this year is a jaunty tune about his plane grounded on the way to his girlfriend’s parent’s hour for Christmas. But there’s always a silver lining: the bar down the street is open where the cold beer is flowing and there’s great tunes on the jukebox as they find a new way to deck the halls.
Maddie & Tae, “We Need Christmas” and “Merry Married Christmas”
The title track from Maddie & Tae’s 6-song holiday EP looks at what we need to soothe our souls this holiday, whether it be such totems of years past as a Charlie Brown Christmas or the Salvation Army bell or grandpa reading from the Book of Luke. “Merry Married Christmas” is an uplifting journey of a married couple’s first Christmas together after tying the knot as they start to create new memories.
RaeLynn, “Jingle Bell Drunk”
Pair with the FGL’s “Lit This Year” and you’ve got yourself a party. The line “Uncle Santa polished off the 100 proof,” sums up the sassy sentiment here where RaeLynn has also received everything she wants for Christmas in the form of her man, so she’s good, There’s nothing left to do but coin a new catch phrase for getting tipsy during the holidays: “Jingle Bell Drunk.”
T.G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang, “Christmas in Mexico”
Eighties’ hitmaker Sheppard and his wife Lang are spending the holidays south of the border, where the warm tropical winds make is a safe bet to leave the winter coat behind. Mariachi trumpets and steel drums lift the breezy tune that sounds like wish fulfillment in the winter of lockdown.
Dani Taylor, “Does It Snow in Nashville”
Celebrate the holidays with a little western swing on this toe-tapping twirler as new artist Taylor surrounds herself with fiddles, pedal steel and good will as she questions if it snows in Music City like she used to dream. The question is a guise for her man to ask her out to see if it does and if “the same snow falls on you as it does to me.”
Despite the turmoils of 2020, Mariah Carey is spreading the holiday cheer with her upcoming Magical Christmas Special.
In a new trailer for the event released on Friday (Nov. 27), Tiffany Haddish cuddles up by the fireplace to tell viewers a story. “‘Twas the night before Christmas, and 2020 had been rough,” she began, “So Santa decided the season couldn’t be merry without the one and only Mariah Carey.”
The chanteuse then appears to announce, “This Christmas, we could all use a little a little magic!” The curtain behind her drops and scenes from the star-studded special begin to play to the soundtrack of Carey’s holiday classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
Billy Eichner, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Misty Copeland and Mykal-Michelle Harris will all appear during the event, along with a special appearance by Carey’s nine-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe.
Additionally, the single and new music video for “Oh Santa!,” featuring Carey’s fellow vocal powerhouses Grande and Hudson, will be distributed by Sony Music and released on streaming platforms on December 4. The companion soundtrack to the special will also be released on the same day.
Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special is out globally on Friday, December 4 exclusively on Apple TV+. Watch the trailer below.
Powderfinger are back, but it’s not a reunion.
The Aussie rock heroes return with Unreleased (1998-2010), their first new album release since 2009’s Golden Rule, the last of five successive Powderfinger LPs to hit No. 1 on Australia’s national chart.
If it sounds like an instant classic, there’s good reason for that. As its name suggests, Unreleased is comprised of gems unearthed from their golden period from 1998 until 2010, when the group went their separate ways. The five former bandmates describe the project as a “happy accident.”
Its 10 tracks were rediscovered March 2019 during meetings with producer Nick DiDia to select outtakes for the 20-year anniversary reissue of their classic Odyssey Number Five.
“Some of the songs were always earmarked for a release at some stage, and they were purposely not used as b-sides as we thought they were too good,” frontman Bernard Fanning explains. “I feel like this is how we ended up looking through our old material, where we discovered other unreleased gems.”
The release caps off an unusually busy year for the Brisbane band. During the national lockdown, Powderfinger reformed for One Night Lonely, a special virtual concert which raised more than A$500,000 for music industry charity Support Act and mental wellbeing support service Beyond Blue.
Later, in September, the special 20th anniversary edition of Odyssey Number 5 saw the recording return to the national chart at No. 2, and it led the national vinyl survey.
Unreleased features “Daybreak” and lead track “Day By Day,” which dropped in September.
Arguably the most popular Australian rock band of their era, Powderfinger collected 18 ARIA Awards across their career, ranking them third all-time. It’s only a matter of when, not if, they’re inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
Stream Unreleased below.
Lil Yachty has been riding a wave since 2016, when he dropped the mixtapes Lil Boat and Summer Songs 2.
His debut full length LP Teenage Emotions pushed out the following year, and hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Its followup Lil Boat 2 docked at No. 2 on the albums chart in 2018, followed soon after by Nuthin’ 2 Prove.
The Grammy-nominated Atlanta native returns with Lil Boat 3, which dropped at midnight.
Lil Boat 3 is a party cruise, featuring 21 tracks in total and collaborations with Drake, Future, Playboi Carti, Lil Baby, Vince Staples, Oliver Tree, A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator and more.
Stream it in full below.
The Smashing Pumpkins are back, and they’re not doing things by halves.
A sprawling, 20-track double set, it’s their first extra-large output since the critically-lauded, chart-topping third album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, from 1995.
Cut in Chicago and produced by Corgan, CYR features fellow founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin alongside longtime guitarist Jeff Schroeder.
CYR represents, at least “symbolically,” the “makings of a dissociative life, which best as we can tell is modern life: as presented through a variety of sources; past, present, and future,” explains Corgan.
With the new LP, “you get 20 pieces of fractured ideology, neither here nor there but that’s sort of the point,” he continues. “To ape that which in the post-technology age is not so easily defined and pinned down, but can be shown in a lithe, restless melody”.
The two-time Grammy winners have more on the way. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Mellon Collie, the Chicago alternative rock legends recently announced plans for a 33-track sequel to the classic album, which the band will support with a world tour. Further details will be announced in 2021.
Also, work is said to be underway on Machina, the third in a trilogy of “expansive and conceptual works.”
CYR includes the previously-released title track, plus “The Colour Of Love,” “Ramona,” “Wrath,” and more.
Stream it in full below.
Hulu is hoping its latest deal will drum up some new subscribers, just in time for the holidays. The online streaming site has dropped its subscription price to just $1.99/month as part of a Hulu Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal. The deal, which runs until 11:59 pm Monday, gets you instant access to for Hulu’s ad-supported plan for just $1.99 per month for one year. That works out to savings of about $48 for a 12-month subscription.
Typically $5.99 per month, a subscription to Hulu’s ad-supported plan gets you unlimited access to the streamer’s massive library of shows, including Pen15, Little Fires Everywhere, Ramy, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu also currently boasts one of the largest catalogs of music films and documentaries online, with docs like LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play the Hits, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s We Are Freestyle Love Supreme, and Joan Jett: Bad Reputation, to name a few. Hulu has also acquired the rights to the 2018 Whitney Houston documentary, Whitney, as well as the Aretha Franklin doc, Amazing Grace. Get the Hulu $1.99 offer here.
Hulu isn’t the only streaming service offering up Black Friday deals. NBC Universal’s newly-launched Peacock is dropping the price of its premium subscription by 20%, giving you access to Peacock’s full lineup of shows for just $39.99 a year (that’s a little over $3 a month).
Peacock Premium is where you’ll find full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, like the Saved by the Bell reboot, along with next-day airings of current NBC hits like This Is Us and Saturday Night Live. Peacock is also where you can re-watch the 2020 Billboard Music Awards on-demand. Find out more about Peacock’s Black Friday deal here.