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From Idina Menzel To The Duke Boys, Surveying 2014's Would-Be Holiday Hitmakers

Idina Menzel, known for singing "Let It Go," has a new holiday album.
Courtesy of the artist
Idina Menzel, known for singing "Let It Go," has a new holiday album.

Every year, an already massive catalog of holiday music swells further, as artists from across a vast spectrum churn out new takes on seasonal standards. Many reach for an even larger brass ring: the creation of a new Christmas classic.

In an interview with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, NPR Music's Stephen Thompson says these songwriting efforts are far from a sure thing.

"Musicians make holiday music for the same reason that people buy lottery tickets," Thompson says. "Your odds of it paying off in a big way are not huge. But if you write a 'Blue Christmas' or an 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' by Mariah Carey, or whatever, it can pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars year after year after year."

Many holiday favorites, like "Blue Christmas," have endured for many decades. But Thompson also highlights an eclectic cross-section of 2014's offerings:

* Actress Kristen Bell, recording the novelty single "Text Me Merry Christmas" with the a cappella group Straight No Chaser.

* Idina Menzel's Holiday Wishes, featuring the voice behind the Frozen soundtrack's massive hit "Let It Go."

* An unlikely update of "Baby It's Cold Outside," titled "Johnny It's Cold Outside," performed by former Dukes of Hazzard stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat.

* A frequently beautiful mix of thoughtful originals and smartly chosen covers, Blood Oranges In the Snow by the Ohio band Over the Rhine.

Hear the full interview at the audio link.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.