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It’s the Gift Guide, which means that you’re probably reading this while lounging in your living room, fire blazing in the fireplace. The Target commercial is blaring in the background while the kids are bouncing off the walls waiting to light the menorah or catch a glimpse of Santa or whatever it is you do. It also means that it’s time for my preview of this year’s most eagerly anticipated holiday albums. And I’ll use the term “eagerly” with as little irony as possible. Which is to say, lots and lots.

1. Mannheim Steamroller
“Christmas Song”
I had a great idea this morning: I’m going to record an over-produced, over-arranged album of Christmas tunes that everyone’s already heard a million times, and then create an imaginary persona named after some European city and a piece of heavy machinery to market the album under. Then, I’ll do it again every five or six years, and, inexplicably, people will line up to buy it. Oh wait. Nevermind.

2. Josh Groban
“Noel”
You know what I was sitting around thinking the other day? I guarantee it was NOT, “gosh, if only we had another Barry Manilow in the world.” Okay, to be fair, his Dad was Jewish and converted to Christianity, so Groban singing an album full of Christmas songs isn’t quite as annoying as Manilow doing it. Quite.

3. Rick Springfield
“Christmas with You”
If you want a surefire way to remind your wife of how old she is and therefore how lame her former high school crushes have become, slip this one into her stocking along with a DVD of the “Scott Baio is 45 and Single” series. The “highlight” on this one is when Springfield surfs up “Deck the Halls.” You know, “Decks.” Surf. So clever. Catch you at the Taste of Lafayette next summer, Rick.

4. Barry Manilow
“In the Swing of Christmas”
Speaking of Manilow, here he is again. Partnered with Hallmark. On yet another Christmas album. Apparently, the only way to purchase it is at a Hallmark store. Or you can mail them your manhood for a copy.

5. Patti LaBelle
“Ms. Patti’s Christmas”
If you absolutely have to buy a Christmas album this year, then make it this one. Produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Glady Knight, etcetera, etcetera…), this one will suck less than all the others making their way onto the over-packed shelves.

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