- - Monday, December 19, 2011

Tired of the holiday music that’s been piping forth from every storefront since Black Friday? Here are two recent Christmas albums that fare better than most, as well as two to avoid.


Michael Buble

Like a hipper version of Josh Groban’s “Noel,” this holiday album samples equally from traditional pop music and more current genres, with Mr. Buble’s honeyed baritone taking center stage on every song. Come for the doo-wop rendition of “White Christmas,” modeled after the Drifters’ 1950s arrangement; stay for “Cold December Night,” an original song co-written by Mr. Buble.

50 Words for Snow

Kate Bush

A Christmas album that refuses to be boxed in by holiday conventions, “50 Words for Snow” takes some wonderfully unexpected turns. The first track, “Snowflake,” breathes new life into a common wintertime theme, but Miss Bush also dives into more arty territory with songs such as “Wild Man,” a seven-minute tribute to the mythical Yeti.

A Very Gaga Holiday

Lady Gaga

Released with little advance notice, this “surprise” Christmas EP only contains two holiday songs. The other tracks are stripped-down performances of songs from her second album, “Born This Way,” making “A Very Gaga Holiday” feel like an unnecessary wintertime cash-in.

Where’s your Christmas spirit, girl?

Under the Mistletoe

Justin Bieber

Your daughter’s favorite teen idol returns to the top of the charts with another batch of R&B-accented pop tunes. Some of the holiday references feel forced, especially during the original numbers, which feel like regular songs retrofitted to suit the season.

Justin Bieber deserves credit for co-writing more than half of the album, but he’s weighed down by his guest stars, who either outshine him (Mariah Carey) or sound sorely misplaced (Busta Rhymes, on a clunky version of “Little Drummer Boy”).

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