imageOh damn. It’s already Christmas Eve? Yep, and if you procrastinated, consider some musical gifts, or snag something that sets your own holiday to music. Download gift cards, DVDs and CDs are just the right size, and everyone loves the gift of song.

Greatest hits collections
One of the best compilation albums ever, ABBA’s “ABBA Gold” finally gets remastered, and all 19 tracks sound spectacular. All the big hits from the Swedish pop stars of old are here—“Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Mamma Mia,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Gimmie! Gimmmie! Gimmie! (A Man After Midnight)”—along with some lesser known hits that still pack a fabulous disco punch. “Gold” also includes all of the music videos filmed for the singles, which was pretty rare for back in the day, making this quite the gift for your ABBA-loving loved one.

British sensation Robbie Williams released the two-CD “In and Out of Consciousness 1990-2010” to celebrate his 20 years as a solo artist. Included is his latest single, “Shame,” recorded with his former band-mate in British supergroup Take That Gary Barlow, along with two new songs by the group, a cover of George Michael’s “Freedom” and “Everything Changes.” Williams’ solo hits abound on the regular release, including “Angels,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Rock DJ,” “Lovelight,” “Feel,” and “Mr. Bojangles.” iTunes offers a deluxe edition with another CD’s worth of B-sides and rarities, many of which have never before been released in the US.

imageP!nk wraps up a big year (reconciling with her hottie hubby and announcing she’s pregnant) with “Greatest Hits … So Far!!!,” which contains her biggest hits and her latest hit single, “Raise Your Glass.” Also, Nelly Furtado offers up “The Best of Nelly Furtado,” which includes all of her biggest hits, like “Turn Off the Light,” “Maneater,” “I’m Like a Bird,” and “Promiscuous.”

Holiday releases
New holiday releases are plentiful this year, so for Yuletide tunes, add some of these releases to your list. Of course, there is the “Glee” Christmas album, “Glee: The Music – The Christmas Album,” complete with the Kurt and Blaine duet, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and k.d. lang singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Annie Lennox released her first holiday album, “A Christmas Cornucopia,” with a mixture of traditional and modern carols and a new song, “Universal Child.”

image“Merry Christmas II You” is Mariah Carey’s second holiday album with a mixture of pop, R&B, and gospel Christmas songs, including “Oh Santa.” Keep your eyes and ears peeled for dance remixes of “Oh Santa” and “Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem)” on iTunes and Masterbeat because they are fierce!

Hometown favorites Indigo Girls released their first Christmas album, “Holly Happy Days,” with songs for winter, Hanukkah, and Christmas, which suit their harmonious vocals perfectly. “Have Yourself a Very KT Christmas” is KT Tunstall’s excellent holiday EP with six tracks, while Olivia Newton-John goes for a big, big Christmas sound on “Christmas Collection” with the London Symphony Orchestra, Vince Gill, Kenny Loggins, and Clint Black along for the ride on some of the tracks.

Jazz vocal trio the Puppini Sisters released their first holiday album, “Christmas with the Puppini Sisters,” with a mixture of traditional arrangements and the Sisters’ own unique take on popular classics like “Last Christmas” and “All I Want for Christmas.” Also, Susan Boyle released “The Gift,” one of the best-selling albums of the year.

imageCountry artists can always be counted on to turn in quality collections of holiday music, and this year’s crop is no different. “A Merry Little Christmas” was a Target exclusive release for Lady Antebellum; it contains excellent versions of five Christmas classics and an original tune. Shelby Lynne lends her smoky vocals to holidays classics on “Merry Christmas,” which also contains several original holiday songs.

Jessica Simpson offers up her second Christmas album, “Happy Christmas,” featuring the upbeat pop single “My Only Wish.” After a string of beautiful Christmas singles, “American Idol” alumna Katharine McPhee releases her first album of Christmas songs, “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You,” which is stellar. California trio Wilson Phillips release “Christmas in Harmony,” a collection of 13 tracks sure to please fans.

As always, some of Broadway’s biggest stars team up for “Carols for a Cure: Volume 12,” a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a two-CD set of modern and traditional holiday classics with a Broadway bent.

For the fifth year in a row, the Killers released their annual holiday single “Boots,” which contains the band’s trademark mix of glam rock, maudlin sensibility, and pop rock for the holidays. Handsome piano man Jon McLaughlin released “Merry, Merry Christmas Everyone,” a new pop holiday song.

imageAustralian dance diva Kylie Minogue released a two-song Christmas EP, “A Kylie Christmas,” with classic versions of “Let It Snow!” and “Santa Baby.” Musical deities Coldplay also produced “Christmas Lights” just in time for the big day. Here’s hoping for full holiday albums from these four acts next year.

Recent album releases
Consider giving your music lover one of these smash hits if he or she doesn’t already own them. Put pure pop magic in someone’s stocking with “Straight Up with a Twist” by Kristine W., “Flamingo” by Killers frontman Brandon Flowers, “Hands All Over” by Maroon 5, “Loud” by Rihanna, “Come Around Sundown” by the Kings of Leon, “Incredible Machine” by Sugarland, “Hemingway’s Whiskey” by Kenny Chesney, “Pink Friday” by Nicki Minaj, “Kaleidoscope Heart” by Sara Bareillis, “Endlessly” by Duffy, and “6: Commitment” by Seal. Also, don’t forget “Body Talk” by Robyn culling the best songs from her three EPs from this year, and “Speak Now” by Taylor Swift.

Check with your local gay retailer to pick up hard copies of these hot releases for your last-minute shopping.

imageProfessional university administrator by day, roving entertainment reporter by night and co-chair of the Entertainment Committee for Atlanta Pride, Buck Cooke is armed with a passion for pop culture and rabid appetite for music, scouring the entertainment landscape for treasures in music, TV and cinema.