It happens like this: You are in charge of a major teen-pop act who can sell anything with their face or voice on it, be it training bras, shaving cream, or caskets. You have a week off in the summer from touring.
Do you let the talent go home and sleep in their own beds or do you shove them in the studio to sing "Silent Night" and other public-domain holiday songs, release a Christmas album in October which sells way too many copies considering the lack of work that goes into it?
You tell your wife to spring for the Lexus and tell the pool guys to break ground on Friday. Of course you make the Christmas album.
It's a rite of passage for every Donnie, Justin, Jessica or Britney who lands on the cover of Bop or, somewhere down the line, Maxim.
98 Degrees, This Christmas
98 Degrees were the Beatles to LFO's Rolling Stones, or something. Remember Nick Lachey? He ruined Jessica Simpson for all men who came after him. More on her later...
N' Sync, Home For Christmas
The Lord was good to the world in 1998, giving us not one but two boy-band holiday albums. Justin Timberlake and some dudes who aren't Justin Timberlake gave us Home For Christmas, complete with "Kiss Me At Midnight," the first modern boy-band New Year's Eve song. The master is in the Smithsonian.
Hanson, Snowed In
This may be the only album on this list that wasn't recorded under absolute duress. We could see the Hanson boys getting all jolly-like playing these songs, instead of grimacing through "Winter Wonderland" at gunpoint.
New Kids on the Block, Merry Merry Christmas
Why is it that when we ask any girl born after 1979 what her first concert was, she says New Kids On The Block? How many people could they fit into the Summit in the '80s??
Christina Aguilera, My Kind of Christmas
Generation Y's own Cher turned in this decent Christmas set in 2000, between the virginal "Genie In a Bottle" and her the assless-chaps erotica of "Dirrty."
Jessica Simpson, Rejoyce: The Christmas Album; Happy Christmas
We spent an hour the other day looking at old pictures of Jessica Simpson from a few years ago in quiet mourning. Remember when she was Daisy Duke? She was hot enough to make Willie Nelson quit pot. Anyway, she made two holiday discs, Rejoyce is apparently the shit, or so our married friends tell us.
Hilary Duff, Santa Claus Lane
Houston native Duff has all but disowned her Bayou City roots, but we remember. And so does our criminal-trespassing conviction. This chirpy holiday album was for puppies and sixth-graders.
Various Artists, Disney Channel Holiday
From the land of 2007, when Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana, didn't know what salvia was and wasn't showing her cooch, and the Jonas Brothers were still ruling teen-pop with an iron fist like the The Claw. Bonus points for Billy Ray Cyrus coming in to "help" with "Run Rudolph Run."
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Various Artists, MTV TRL Christmas
All your favorite future Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees are here, like Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Simple Plan. They could still surprise you. Also, Blink-182's "I Won"t Be Home For Christmas" still makes us smile.
Cast of Glee, The Christmas Album
Quit yer bitching. You got what you wanted.