One thing you need to know going into this year's holiday season is that Bandcamp has instituted new policies. As I understand it, they've instituted a cap on the number of free downloads they'll allow on any given posting. After that, they'll charge the artist for downloads and, therefor, the artist will charge you. I'm not sure if the artist can finesse around that with a "name your own price" setting or not. Anyway, point is, the free-download-through-Bandcamp train is nearing an end and we may list something on the Free List that is no longer free by the time you get there. It could happen.
Now for the good stuff. As early as it is, there are always some rumblings in a year's early months as artists usually have to record holiday fare months in advance to ensure optimum promotion. So far the interwebs are pretty quiet, but we have learned that B.J. Thomas is planning a Christmas album to be released later this year.
B.J. Thomas didn't record a holiday album during his peak career years with Scepter, but he's contributed mightily to the holiday canon in later years. B.J.'s earliest and, for my money, best Christmas recordings were the two songs recorded for MCA's 1979 LP, "On This Christmas Night"; both the title track and "God Bless The Children" feature B.J. at his sentimental pop best. In 1995, Thomas released a Christmas album of traditional favorites, "Scenes Of Christmas", that was (IMO) uneven at best. Two years later, Thomas released "Christmas Is Coming Home", which featured more contemporary Christmas selections like "Grown Up Christmas List", "Take A Walk Through Bethlehem", and "Tennessee Christmas". There was also a Live holiday effort and DVD. And all of these have been mixed and matched and re-released so many times under so many titles that it can be hard to keep up. So it remains to be seen what the 68 year old can bring to the table that's new in 2011. Still, here's a clip from the Live Christmas concert to remind everyone why we should care.
There's nothing more recent on Pat Benatar's long hoped for Christmas project than the brief mention in a June 2010 People article. Given that her promised "acoustic hits" set has yet to see release, in spite of having been in the works for quite a while, it's reasonable to not get too worked up until we hear something more definitive. And Pop Country band Restless Heart is still working on a Christmas album, their first, which was at one time expected to drop in 2009.
The recording for Joey + Rory's upcoming holiday set should have been mostly completed in 2010. The pair released a Christmas single in 2009--"It's Christmas Time"--and we got a little taste of the full album last Christmas--in the form of a video Christmas card. So here it is as a reminder of what the talented husband and wife duo bring to the table.
Meanwhile, Michael Buble is working on a new Christmas record, with David Foster and others. Buble hopes to turn in a very traditional (in his words, "authentic") holiday album in a similar vein to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". "I want people to grow up listening to this record just like I grew up listening to Bing," Buble says, adding that there are no original songs on the album. Buble's 2003 EP, "Let It Snow", is a huge perennial seller already and features "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas". We'll have to wait and see what songs he tackles this time around.
Back in January, we told you of Percy Sledge and his plans to record a Christmas album--or albums--for 2011. Loretta Lynn claims she's finished recording a pair of albums, one of them a holiday set. And Martina McBride has hinted that she'd like to do another Christmas record sometime soon.
Then there's Ozzy Osbourne, who, about this time last year, was reported to be planning a 2011 release of "Black Christmas", an album of holiday treats (or possibly tricks). Ozzy also told the press in December that he hates the Yuletide season and would like to see it banned entirely. But, with Ozzy, anything is possible. Anybody besides me remember Ozzy's 2003 Christmas special? The word "surreal" comes to mind.
Well, that's the early news on what we think might be ahead this holiday season. As we learn more, we'll drop the info here. And there are always surprise gifts that seemingly drop from the heavens when you least expect them. As noted, the List will likely begin to come alive in about a month if last year is any indication. Just because its nearly summer doesn't mean we don't have sugarplums and snowmen on our minds.