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Jewel: Joy: A Holiday Collection

Alaskan songbird Jewel takes on the holiday season with a selection of classics mixed with a few of her own compositions

Jewel Alaskan songbird Jewel takes on the holiday season with a selection of classics mixed with a few of her own compositions. She tackles the standards with restrained but skilled enthusiasm, walking down the snowy path of her own interpretations only on a couple of occasions. In Jewel's world, "Winter Wonderland" goes honky-tonk to good effect, with a steel pedal guitar and some of her own trademark yodeling. "Rudolph," on the other hand, becomes a mainly acoustic scatting duet with her mother, Nedra Carroll, that doesn't work nearly as well.

Otherwise, she offers pretty straightforward renditions of favorites such as "Silent Night," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "Joy to the World," most enhanced by the participation of a choir. "O Holy Night" and "Ave Maria" especially show off Jewel's range, where she hits and holds high notes with ease. Her own contributions are hit and miss with regard to capturing the holiday spirit, but most misplaced is the Christmas version of "Hands"; don't look for the carolers to sing that one any time soon.

 

South Park: Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics

Like the show from which it sprung, Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics is fairly funny, if you can stomach the exceptional low-brow humor

There really has never been a show as offensive as South Park in primetime. The misadventures of four foul-mouthed Colorado lads has already inspired a feature film, an album, and gobs and gobs of merchandise, the latest of which is holiday-themed. Just so you have no illusions, the "Mr. Hankey" referred to in the title is, in fact, South Park's resident holiday fecal matter. Really. Still, like the show itself, the album is fairly funny, if you can stomach the exceptional lowbrow humor. No one group is singled out, and everyone is fair game to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Jews, Asians, Hindus, celebrities, even Christians find themselves receiving a tongue-in-cheek lashing.

"Merry F--king Christmas," as sung by the teacher, Mr. Garrison, will have you feeling terribly guilty about how hard you're laughing, as will Satan's "Christmas Time in Hell." And Cartman's ballad "Swiss Colony Beef Log" is guaranteed to make you laugh — once. Which is about the number of times that you'll need to listen to this collection, though don't be terribly shocked if you find yourself spinning it again when you think no one else is around.