There's some crossover between the vocalists on "Cabaret" and those on "Broadway," a whopping 45-song double-CD that includes everyone from Tommy Tune to the cast of "Forever Plaid" waxing jolly for AIDS fund raising. It's uneven, but original material is intriguingly rampant, and--guaranteed--it's the only place this year you'll hear "It's Christmas and We're Jewish" and "Wishing You a Drag Queen Christmas."
* 1/2 RuPaul, "Little Drummer Boy," (Tommy Boy). The only new Christmas single of note puts a moderate hip-hop beat under an otherwise surprisingly straight-(no pun intended)-forward reading of the percussive perennial--proving even Uncle Miltie's cross-dressing sparring partner can provoke an old-lang-yawn.
* 1/2 Vince Gill, "Let There Be Peace on Earth," (MCA). You better watch out: Somnambulist Claus is coming to town, and dragging 101 Strings wanna-bes with him. "Peace" creeps along with sonorous predictability--until it climaxes with his one original, "It Won't Be the Same This Year," a well-meant but ill-timed lament for a dead brother that abruptly drops Gill's drowsy listeners off at the graveyard. Next time, Vince, let there be liveliness on earth.
* 1/2 Gloria Estefan, "Christmas Through Your Eyes," (Epic). The title refers to the eyes of a child, so be forewarned: Though not ostensibly a kids' album, this is more lullaby music. The occasional hint of a Latin beat and a bilingual "Silent Night" are among the few distinguishing features Mama Estefan offers.
* 1/2 Carnie & Wendy Wilson, "Hey Santa!," (SBK). Most singers wait until safely established in a career to trot out Christmas product, which makes the sugary self-sabotage of the Wilson sisters' first extra-Phillips affair all the more curious.
* Kathy Lee Gifford, "It's Christmastime," (Warner Bros.). Notable not just for cameos by son Cody and son-surrogate Regis, but also for being the only holiday album this year in which you can actually hear the artist grinning.
* Jingle Cats, "Meowy Christmas," (Jingle Cats), and Three Cool Cats & the Do Dogs, "We Woof You a Meowy Christmas!," (Tri-Light). Cats and dogs, mewing and barking carols together--didn't Bill Murray say that would be a sign of the apocalypse? A good argument for SPCA vigilante squads, gunning for anybody with a pet and a digital sampler.
Now you're ready for that antidote.
* * * "Ren & Stimpy, Crock O' Christmas," (Nickelodeon/Epic). C'mon get happy happy: This cartoon crockpot includes such soon-to-be-standards as "Fleck the Walls," "Cat Hairballs" (to the tune of "Jingle Bells") and other odes to joy joy--er, bodily excretions, actually. Yule especially love the closer, "Decorate Yourself," a moving, Michael Jackson-ish anthem that invokes holiday universalism with such instructions as "Tape a cheese log to your nose" and "Hang your mistletoe where the sun don't shine." Ah, Christmas is for children. And Chihuahuas.