THE SOUND OPTION WITH MARCUS HATHCOCK
#19 - Christmas Songs
Both Colbie Calliat and Francesca Battistelli have released their first Christmas albums. They share one song, but that's about all they have in common.
 


It's Christmastime, and there are a ton of options out there when it comes to festive holiday music. Truly, as many styles of music exist are variations on the classic carols, and additions of brand-new seasonal songs hoping to crack into the pantheon of holiday standards. 
 
Currently sitting at No. 9 on the Billboard Charts for Christmas albums is the cool-breeze singer-songwriter Colbie Calliat, with Christmas in the Sand. The title is perfect for this album, as Calliat's admittedly relaxing, summertime sound takes on six holiday standards (plus a seventh with New Years' anthem "Auld Lang Syne"). 
 
Calliat--the two-time GRAMMY winner who has sold more than six million albums and 10 million singles worldwide--charms her audiences with her smooth vocals, lighthearted sounds and true-to-life songwriting. Led by her 2007 sugary sweet single, "Bubbly," Calliat feeds her listeners a staple of acoustic-driven, relationships-infused songs.
 
Fans of the smooth-yet-passionate tones of Colbie Calliat would likely find pleasing the first Christmas album by Dove Award-winning Christian artist Francesca Battistelli, titled Christmas.
 
The two singers have very similar vocal stylings, although it's clear Battistelli has some Nashville influence. They sing in the same range, execute breathy sounds flawlessly and make good use of acoustic tones.
 
Battistelli and Calliat only have one song in common between their two albums, which best illustrates their different takes on Christmas. (That common song is "The Christmas Song," which sounds quite different between the two albums.) While Calliat offers some innuendo-laced songs such as "Santa Baby" and "Baby It's Cold Outside" and ambiguous "holiday" songs such as "Silver Bells", "Winter Wonderland" and her catchy relationship-centered song "Mistletoe," Battistelli's focus is primarily on the birth of Jesus.
 
Battistelli's album features creative takes on Jesus-centric songs such as "What Child Is This", "O Come O Come Emmanuel", "Joy to the World", "Go, Tell it on the Mountain" and a few original songs, including her hit "You're Here." She has some fun, seasonal songs, too, such as "Marshmallow World", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and the aforementioned "The Christmas Song," but the emphasis clearly is on the birth of the Savior.
 
While there's plenty to love on Calliat's album--including a call to serve the least of these on "Happy Christmas"--people looking for songs about Jesus delivered by smooth, heartfelt female vocals should check out Christmas by Francesca Battistelli. And Calliat's album ends with "Auld Lang Syne," Battistelli's reminds us with "Heaven Everywhere" that celebrating Christmas is a year-round action.

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NRT Senior Editor Marcus Hathcock has been a newspaper reporter, an editor and now Community Life Director for East Hill Church in Gresham, Ore. He's also been involved in opera, acappella, a CCM group and now is a songwriter and one of the worship leaders at East Hill. Follow his journey at www.mheternal.com.

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