Various Artists

Merry Xmas! [Sony]

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An alternative to the dominant Now That's What I Call Christmas! series, Sony compilation Merry Xmas! gathers 80 of the most popular contemporary festive tracks, with number ones from Band Aid, Slade, and Shakin' Stevens; novelty hits from Bo Selecta and the Wombles; and traditional seasonal favorites from Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams. The first three pop-heavy discs feature iconic holiday songs from Mariah Carey ("All I Want for Christmas Is You"), Wham! ("Last Christmas"), and Bing Crosby ("White Christmas") alongside less familiar additions from established artists Toni Braxton, Lady Gaga, and Christina Aguilera and cover versions of festive classics (Girls Aloud's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday," Ronan Keating and Máire Brennan's "Fairytale of New York"). In an attempt to appeal to older audiences, the fourth disc focuses on easy listening festive material from Cliff Richard, Tony Bennett, and Doris Day alongside four carols performed by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. Highlights include East 17's sleigh-bell ballad "Stay Another Day," Brenda Lee's joyous "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and Sarah McLachlan's beautifully understated "Wintersong." With contributions from boy bands (*NSYNC, Westlife), soul singers (Al Green, Luther Vandross), classic rock acts (T. Rex, Status Quo), singer/songwriters (Maria Mena, Dido), and classical crossover artists (the Priests, G4), and featuring tracks recorded from 1941 (Glenn Miller's "When You Wish Upon a Star") right up to 2010 (the Great British Barbershop Boys' rendition of Mud's "Lonely This Christmas"), Merry Xmas! is a comprehensive and generation-spanning collection that provides the perfect accompaniment for anyone wanting to get into the festive spirit.

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