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The 12 Discs of Christmas: This year’s best new holiday music

By Gary Graff, The Oakland Press
POSTED: 12/12/14, 2:52 PM EST

The members of Earth, Wind & Fire didn’t need their arms twisted too hard when they were approached to make a Christmas album this year.

“After 43 years, it’s something we’ve never done, so we liked the idea of that,” explains the group’s Philip Bailey. “And, you know, these seasonal records have a life of their own, and you can resurface them every year, forever. If you put out a decent one it’s not like, ‘Oh, yeah, that one’s old.’ Every year it has a new lease on life, which is a great thing to have.”

EWF’s “Holiday,” which came out during October, is among the myriad new releases for the 2014 holiday season, a veritable stuffed sonic stocking brimming over with new entries from pop singers, rock stars, crooners, instrumentalists and any others hoping to, as Bailey says, add an annual musical annuity to their catalogs. This year’s offerings range from pop icons and hard rockers to the woman who sang “Let It Go” and the cast of “Downton Abbey.”

There’s enough music to fill 12 days of Christmas, and then some. So we’ve combed through the latest releases to come up with the best — our 12 discs of Christmas. Joyeux Noel, y’all.

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Pentatonix, “That’s Christmas To Me” (RCA): The a capella champions from the third season of “The Sing-Off” sleigh-ride through a unique 11-song collection that covers Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal,” fuses “Winter Wonderland” with Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and nods to the inevitable with “Let It Go” from “Frozen.”