by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
Everyone needs music for the holidays - if not under the tree, then while decorating it. As usual, there are plenty of Christmas tunes and other seasonally inspired offerings to choose from at your local record store, but here's what I recommend grabbing for yourself and your gift recipients.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The Heist/Key Arena concert tickets
Serious Grammy contenders, Seattle's breakout stars Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have gone from a local club act to filling sports arenas across North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in a matter of months. 'Thrift Shop,' 'Can't Hold Us,' 'White Walls,' and the Gay marriage-booster 'Same Love' are individually excellent, but packaged together it's a damn good party just waiting to happen at your house. See them live at Key Arena - some tickets still remain for the duo's three shows on December 10-12 at www.ticketmaster.com.
In Your Dreams DVD
Rock goddess Stevie Nicks completes an eventful year with In Your Dreams, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of her album of that title - her first in 10 years - with producer Dave Stewart. In 2013, the iconic singer-songwriter joined her Fleetwood Mac bandmates for a sold-out tour, and she is currently filming episodes for American Horror Story: Coven. The doors to Nicks's usually private life are burst wide open in this documentary that allows fans to see costume parties, elaborate feasts, revealing songwriting and recording sessions, plus cameos from Reese Witherspoon, Mick Fleetwood, Edgar Allan Poe, and even a few vampires.
British pop duo Erasure is spreading joy this season their own way, ushering out their first full-length holiday album, Snow Globe, that'll have fans dancing around the Christmas tree. Andy Bell, the vocal half of Erasure, previewed the record with SGN recently (see our Nov. 8 issue) and mentioned the possibility of performing some of these songs, which include 'Silent Night,' 'Gaudete,' and 'Silver Bells,' on a live stage when they tour in 2014.
A Classic Christmas
Glee cast member Matthew Morrison shines on a six-track holiday EP, following the success of his debut album of pop standards released earlier this year. The Emmy-, Tony-, and Golden Globe-nominated performer, respected for his stage and TV work, sings cheery versions of 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,' 'Jingle Bell Rock,' and 'Let It Snow,' but also delights on a delicate rendition of 'O Holy Night.'
Wrapped in Red
She's a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, and a whole lotta fabulous. Multiple Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson gets into the holiday spirit with her first Christmas release, Wrapped in Red, featuring collaborations with Nashville greats Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire on 'Silent Night' and Ronnie Dunn on 'Baby, It's Cold Outside.' Other tracks on the festive CD are 'Run Run Rudolph,' 'White Christmas,' and 'Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing).'
Pop superstar Britney Spears is making a comeback, beginning with a new album release on December 3. Though she hasn't really been MIA, she also hasn't been in peak form and has lost a bit of her world domination. But this will change when Britney Jean comes out next week, followed by a two-month residency in Las Vegas launching on December 27. Brit-Brit is oops ... doing it again!
MDNA World Tour DVD
Madonna's 'MDNA World Tour' raked in $305 million, easily claiming 2012's top-tour list and re-staking her claim atop the pop queen throne. More than 20 songs from Madge's vast catalog fill the two-hour performance, including 'Papa Don't Preach,' 'Girl Gone Wild,' 'Open Your Heart,' 'Masterpiece,' 'Like a Virgin,' 'Vogue,' 'Human Nature,' and several numbers from last year's MDNA record. The concert DVD, available in traditional format and Blu-ray, is the result of footage cropped from 80 live performances and 30 cameras.
R&B recording artist and TV personality Tamar Braxton scored a No. 1 hit this year with 'Love and War,' the title track off her well-received sophomore effort of the same name. And she's giving us a little extra something for the holidays - a romance-inspired Christmas album with a lot of soul. Winter Loversland features her interpretations of 'Santa Baby,' 'Merry Christmas Darling,' 'Sleigh Ride,' and 'The Chipmunk Song,' a duet with sibling Trina Braxton.
Back to Brooklyn CD/DVD
Entertainment legend Barbra Streisand returned to her roots last year on a rare live outing that included a performance in her old 'hood, Brooklyn. The show was captured from beginning to end, and fans who may have missed her this time around are treated to lush recorded renditions of 'Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born), 'The Way We Were/Through the Eyes of Love,' 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,' 'Lost Inside of You,' and a duet with son Jason Gould, 'How Deep Is the Ocean.'
Iconic DVD/Key Arena concert tickets
Undoubtedly, 2013 belonged to Justin Timberlake. The year included the success of 'The 20/20 Experience,' a major sold-out tour extending through 2014, as well as Hollywood starring roles and an appearance on Saturday Night Live that earned him an Emmy nomination. Iconic is a DVD bio-doc focusing on the triumphs and trials of his career, reaching back to those good ol' days in The Mickey Mouse Club. Or skip the DVD and see him in-person instead - his Key Arena concert on January 17 is sold out, but resale tickets are available at www.livenation.com.
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