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New holiday CDs

Here's our ranked guide to some of this year's releases.



XXX-treme sleigh ride = Lots of fun

Snow globe = Occasionally nice moments

Gift-wrapped socks = Functional but blah

Rancid egg nog = Avoid like the antibiotic-resistant clap

Ultimate Soul Christmas

Who: Various artists4

You can expect: A heavy-hitting lineup of R&B growlers (Bobby Womack, Otis Redding), chanteuses (Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson), crooners (Luther Vandross, Donny Hathaway) and slap-yo'-mama harmonizers (the Stylistics).

Pleasure principle: XXX-treme sleigh rideEverything You Want for Christmas

Who: The nouveau-retro Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

You can expect: Swinging big band numbers that will make you party like its 1949.

Pleasure principle: Snow globe

Chris Isaak Christmas

Who: Singer/songwriter-turned- heartthrob-turned-sitcom star-turned-Christmas jingler Chris Isaak

You can expect: A blandly rendered suite that never seems to get going.

Pleasure principle: Gift-wrapped socksMusic from The O.C.: Mix 3 -- Have A Very Merry Chrismukkah

Who: Various artists

You can expect: One fine set o' tunes ranging from moody (the Raveonette's "The Christmas Song") to coolly kitsch (Jimmy Eat World's take on Wham's "Last Christmas") to spare and pretty (Ben Kweller's "Rock of Ages," Leona Naess' "Christmas," and Ron Sexsmith's "Maybe This Christmas").

Pleasure principle: XXX-treme sleigh ride

Barenaked for the Holidays

Who: Canadian fun boys Barenaked Ladies

You can expect: Jokey tracks like "I Have a Dreidel" alongside earnestly sung cuts ("Snowman") and covers of MTV-era standards ("Wonderful Christmastime," "Do They Know It's Christmas?").

Pleasure principle: Snow globe

Merry Christmas with Love

Who: Ex-"American Idol" eunuch Clay Aiken

You can expect: A thoroughly ball-less set of sap that will make your Christmas more like Crap-mass.

Pleasure principle: Rancid egg nog

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