Each Christmas brings with it another glut of holiday soul albums. This year's crop includes A Ginuwine Christmas and a holiday single from Mindless Behavior, "Christmas with My Girl." In years past, everyone from Destiny's Child (8 Days of Christmas) to Whitney Houston (One Wish: The Holiday Album) to Ashanti (Ashanti's Christmas) has gotten into the spirit, always mixing reliable standards (see Donny Hathaway's deathless "This Christmas") and original compositions that occasionally result in new classics (see Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You").
These are the kind of records you'll hear all month long at your family's house, especially since NBA basketball is on hiatus; it seems as if I've been hearing The Temptations' "Silent Night" on soul-oldies stations forever. The predictability of this stuff is part of the reason it works so well: B2K may get a little randy on 2002's Santa Hooked Me Up with "Sexy Boy Christmas," but eventually they get around to "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose ... the voices may change, but the standards stay with us.