Big Christmas albums released this year

A mainstay of the Billboard charts, the concept of the Christmas album has only really started to gain popularity in the UK over the past few years thanks to the likes of Susan Boyle, Justin Bieber and of course, Michael Buble, whose festive effort sold over one million copies to become the second biggest album of 2011.

Here's a look at five of this year's most high-profile yuletide releases hoping to do the same.

Steps - 'Light Up The World'

When you think of Steps, you think of colour co-ordinated outfits, HI-NRG pop and easy-to-learn dance routines. You don't automatically think of 60s orchestral lounge-pop, 40s musical numbers and Lee Latchford-Evans' lead vocals. And yet all appear on their first new studio album in eleven years, 'Light Up The World.' Their renditions of Burt Bacharach numbers 'One Less Bell To Answer' and 'A House Is Not A Home,' Judy Garland's 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' and Stevie Wonder's 'Overjoyed' are admittedly surprisingly tasteful and well-produced. But they're also as joyless as the second series of their Sky Living documentary, with only the gorgeous string-soaked balladry of the title track, (and sole original composition), coming close to their late 90s heyday.

Lady Antebellum - 'On This Winter's Night'

Contemporary country music's biggest crossover group Lady Antebellum expand upon their previous 'A Merry Little Christmas' E.P. with the full-length 'On This Winter's Night,' but apart from the occasional fiddle solo, there's little evidence of their Nashville past here. Instead, it's an effortlessly feel-good mix of seasonal bar-room rock (Elvis Presley's 'Blue Christmas,' Darlene Love's 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'), wintry ballads tailor-made for sitting in front of a log fire ('I'll Be Home For Christmas') and popular hymns ('Silent Night,' 'The First Noel') that are jam-packed with rich layered harmonies.

Cee Lo Green - 'Cee Lo's Magic Moment'

The kind of Christmas album that even the most miserly of Scrooges would find impossible to resist, 'Cee Lo's Magic Moment' is a joyous listen which re-interprets classic festive standards as Motown uptempos ('White Christmas') and neo-soul slow jams ('This Christmas'), gives a gospel makeover to 'Silent Night' and even manages to cover Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' without ruining it. But it's the impressive list of guest names he's assembled which provide the highlights, from the a cappella version of 'You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch' with Straight No Chaser, to the Christina Aguilera duet, 'Baby It's Cold Outside,' to the playful 'All You Need Is Love,' which features none other than The Muppets.

Christina Perri - 'A Very Merry Perri Christmas'

Currently in the Top 20 with her contribution to 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2' soundtrack, 'Jar Of Hearts' singer-songwriter Christina Perri has also found the time to dip her toe into the Christmas market with this brilliantly-titled six-track E.P. The easy-listening lounge-pop of the only original number, 'Something About December,' sounds like a long lost Carpenters classic, and is rather appropriately followed by an actual Carpenters classic, 'Merry Christmas Darling.' But it's the subtle acoustic rendition of 'Ave Maria' and the melancholic cover of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' that are most likely to warm the heart on this musical equivalent of a certain coffee chain's gingerbread latte.

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 3

Fast becoming as synonymous with the holiday season as The Queen's Speech and the usual Eastenders family fall-out, the Glee Cast continue to put their own spin on familiar festive classics with the release of their third Christmas album in three years next month. Official details about the track-list are sketchy at the moment, but songs rumoured to appear in the forthcoming 'Glee, Actually' episode include a mash-up of Bon Iver's 'Skinny Love' with 'White Christmas' and a cover of John Lennon & Yoko Ono's 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over).'