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Blue Rodeo sings the melancholy side of Christmas

12/22/2014 05:00 EST | Updated 02/20/2015 05:59 EST
Holiday shoppers have an abundance of Christmas themed album releases to choose from this year. 

Everyone from British pop singer Sam Smith, to the cast of the popular TV show Downton Abbey seem to have new holiday albums in the market.

Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman and Toronto-based country-pop band Blue Rodeo are among those entering the fold this season.

And they're taking on some festive favourites in the genre.

The King of Christmas

​Micheal Bublé's holiday music is so popular that Spotify crowned the Canadian crooner the King of Christmas. Out of the streaming service's top 20 Christmas tracks, 11 of them belong to Bublé. In the top 10, five are Bublé's, with his version of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas sitting at No. 1.

"Michael Bublé truly deserves the King of Christmas crown," said Angela Watts, Spotify's VP of global communications, in a statement. "His music helps spread Christmas cheer across the world."

A melancholy kind of merry

"Our record isn't like a Bublé​ Christmas record," asserted Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor in a recent interview with CBC.

"A Bublé record is for you to pour yourself a cocktail, put on a nice Prada suit, go to the mall to do some shopping and coming back in your BWM and feel good about your life."

"See why ours is more on the melancholy side of Christmas?" interrupted Blue Rodeo co-founder Jim Cuddy with a laugh.

"[Recording a holiday album] is just fun to do," continued Keelor, "Not just do the cash grab, but to actually make a record that has the resonance of what lies beneath the modern Christmas." 

Blue Rodeo's holiday record, A Merrie Christmas to You, features 10 tracks mixing modern originals with Christmas classics. When searching for music to include, Keelor leaned toward religious songs, while Cuddy was drawn to jazzier, swing era tunes.

"We challenged each other," said Cuddy.

The season of sales

Whether an artist is in it for the money or for the warm feelings of the season, Christmas album sales can be a tangible treat for musicians.

"They do really well," said David Bakula, senior vice-president of industry insights with Nielsen Entertainment.

"It's one of those things where name recognition means a lot. So when you get somebody who is a nationally well-known name like a Michael Bublé, a Céline Dion, a Johnny Reid—these records can be the bestselling records of the season by a long shot."

For a sampling of some of the new Christmas albums on offer this year, and to hear more about why soprano Brueggergosman decided to get into the game, watch Deana Sumanac-Johnson's full report Tuesday on The National.

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