‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through Listen, Hear,

The writers were smitten with their pre-Christmas cheer.

Only 11 days until the best holiday,

Brian and Carlye had something important to say.

“Oh what a Christmas miracle it would be –

A review of the best albums to put under the tree!”

We hope you enjoy – we were very selective,

And hope that your holiday is exciting and festive!

Carlye: Snowed In by Hanson

Throughout my life, I can only pinpoint two memories of Christmas music – singing wondrous, jolly holiday melodies in between the token pathetic Hanukkah song in high school chorus concerts, and Hanukkah 1997.

My parents weren’t happy to participate in the conundrum of purchasing Snowed In, a Christmas album, as a Hanukkah gift for their boy-band crazed daughter. But fuck it, I was set on marrying the young, Christian, blonde-haired Zac of the group, and no one was going to stop me!

As a welcomed alternative to other gifts I’ve received such as ‘SMATH, a Scrabble-and-math educational board game, the Hanson album I received in fifth grade was a wonderful introduction into the phenomenal genre that is Christmas music.

The captivating, choir-like love ballad “Christmas Time” sticks to the album’s theme of mentioning the holiday’s name in song titles, while, “What Christmas Means to Me,” a jazzy lil’ diddy featuring Zac’s impeccable singing rivals Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas.”

Upbeat, vocal-centric tracks such as, “Merry Christmas, Baby,” and, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” served as sufficient background music to my daydreams about celebrating the most wonderful time of the year with my love, Zac Hanson. And, on our lovely Christmas afternoon, there would be no Chinese food or trips to the movie theatre, unlike my traditional activities of Dec. 25.

I don’t care if they look like girls. I don’t care if the album is full of falsetto, since only a third of the trio had experienced puberty at the time. Hanson taught me about MMMbops, judging people with long hair to be girls and Christmas, and for that, they are my Christmastime favorite!

Brian: This Gift by 98 Degrees.

Ever since their Disney-sponsored debut alongside Stevie Wonder in the hit film Mulan, 98 Degrees has been close to my heart. It may be the mental association to the vocal talents of Eddie Murphy and Donny Osmond that draws me to them, but whatever it is, it’s strong and real.

That’s why when it comes to Christmas music, this hot, hot boy band wins the best album title. Yeah, I didn’t pick Sufjan Stevens’ five-disc Christmas set; I’m unpredictable! And, unpredictability is also a part of why I love This Gift; you never know what you’re going to get and it’s also amazing.

“This Gift,” the quintessential holiday ballad, is not only beautiful, but potentially about Nick taking Jessica Simpson’s virginity. The group’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” takes the old classic and makes it both hip-hoptastic and totally fresh. The beat can only be described as “like whoa.”

Though somewhat tongue and cheek, This Gift is entirely more than what is expected. Impressive and with only somewhat computer-enhanced vocal harmonies, 98 Degrees proves that they are truly the “underrated boy band” of our time.

Releasing a Christmas album is the most ridiculous move a recording artist can make (unless you’re Perry Como) and 98 Degrees went for it 110 percent. This Christmas, turn back time and turn up the heat with 98 Degrees.

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