LOS ANGELES — For the obsessive record collector or the casual listener, the shower singer or the rock star of tomorrow, a music-inspired gift is never a faux pas over the holidays.
The challenge, of course, is in the decision making. Is a genre-specific festival ticket the way to go? What about a box set fit for a budding audiophile?
Here’s a variety gift guide for the audio lover in your life — from photo card binders for the K-pop superfan to a pair of some of the best headphones on the market and a cheese board that looks surprisingly hi-def.
It’ll be music to their ears.
GIVE ‘EM SIMONE: There are vinyl box sets, and then there is “Four Women: The Nina Simone Complete Recordings 1964-1967,” a massive, seven-LP collection built from the seven albums Simon released for the Philips label during her most prolific creative period. That’s 1964’s “Nina Simone in Concert” and “Broadway-Blues-Ballads”; 1965’s “I Put A Spell On You,” “Pastel Blues” and “Let It All Out”; 1966’s “Wild Is the Wind”; and 1967’s ”High Priestess of Soul,” remastered from the original tape. It is the ideal way to celebrate the musician and civil rights activist, and the ideal gift for a music fan of any walk. Cost: $199.96
HIT “PLAY”: The cassette tape revolutionized the music industry and the music listening experience: You could make mixtapes for loved ones, record that hit song from the radio, or best of all, carry your favorite album around with you. In “High Bias: The Distorted History of the Cassette Tape,” music journalist Marc Masters provides the definitive text on the tiny-but-mighty piece of plastic. Perfect for the pop-culture obsessed. Cost: $20
FOR YOUR PLEASURE: In 2021, Harry Styles entered the beauty game with his company, “Pleasing,” beginning with colorful, gender-neutral nail polish. It continued to grow, eventually including skincare and makeup. This holiday season, Styles has entered the fragrance game. Launched this month, Styles’ perfume line includes “Closeness,” described as a “woody musk scent,” “Rivulets,” which is a “floral, fresh amber scent,” and “Bright, Hot,” a “heady woody amber scent with top notes of plum and tobacco.” Something for everyone, or, at least, the pop music fan in your life. It’s a welcome distraction from One Direction’s indefinite hiatus. Cost: $135
SAY CHEESE: This one might give an audiophile a heart attack, but that doesn’t make it any less adorable. ‘Tis the season to break out the charcuterie board and host a great holiday party — but why not do it in musical style? The “Turntable Cheese Board” from Uncommon Goods is exactly what it sounds like — a cheese board designed to look like the most expensive, slick turntable, featuring a slate platter and hidden slicer in the one arm. Delicious. Cost: $78
HEAR IT LOUD: There’s never a wrong time to upgrade headphones — in fact, it makes for a great gift. Sony’s MDR-7506 headphones are a particularly wise selection. This pair is perfect for aspiring producers, music students, podcast hosts of the future, anyone who wants to look cool walking down the street with studio-grade headphones and beyond. They’re an industry standard for a reason. Cost: $80-$130
THE WAY SHE WAS: On Nov. 7, Barbra Streisand released her very long and very long-awaited memoir, “My Name is Barbra.” She’d talked about it for years — in 2021, she told Jimmy Fallon that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had asked her to write a memoir in the early 1980s, when the former first lady was an editor at Doubleday. (Heck, during an Associated Press interview in 2009, Streisand mentioned that she had been writing chapters about her life, in longhand. “I go back and forth,” Streisand said at the time. “Do I really want to write about my life? Do I really want to relive my life? I’m not sure.”) But beyond the wait — and the fact that “My Name is Barbra” is well worth it, a larger-than-life autobiography coming in at a whopping 1,040 pages — are the revelations that await the reader. From her childhood to her marriage to the making of “Yentl” and beyond. Cost: $47
K-POP COOL: Far too often, holiday gift guides — even those specifically catering to music enthusiasts — fail to account for dedicated, artist-specific fandoms. And that’s a shame, because the most thoughtful presents are often the most specific ones. They communicate to the gift-receiver that the gift-giver really gets them. That they listen. For the K-pop lover, why not get a photocard binder where they can store their limited-edition collection? Just make sure you know who their “bias” (a K-pop term for favorite member) is first, OK? That would be embarrassing. Cost: $13 – $20
IT’S NOT A PHASE: In his second book, “Goth: A History”, Lol Tolhurst, co-founder the influential “goth” band The Cure, explores the often-misunderstood movement, what he calls “the last true alternative outsider subculture.” It’s about the music subgenre born out of late-’70s punk and dread, of course (Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees) but also touches on Tim Burton films, Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein”, Emily Brontë, and an adolescent period marked by black nail polish and nihilism. It’s a well-rounded, interdisciplinary and definitive history and part-memoir, perfect for that friend who swears he liked that band before they were big. Cost: $20 – $25
THERE’S SOMETHING GOING ON: In 1995, The Roots dropped their influential sophomore album, “Do You Want More?!!!??!,” a critically acclaimed album in hip-hop canon. Now, nearly three decades later, a four-LP box set has been released — a remastered version of the original two LP albums and now with bonus tracks curated by Questlove himself. He and Tariq Trotter, a.k.a. Black Thought, wrote the liner notes, and that’s a kind of exclusive commentary you can only pay for. (And if you’re feeling really generous, you could also throw in Trotter’s new book, “The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are” and become the greatest gift giver in your circle.) Cost: $89.98
TE AMO: What do music fans really want for the holidays? The live music experience, of course. In 2024, the Latin music festival Besame Mucho is headed to Austin, Texas, following the success of its inaugural year in Los Angeles, and should be considered a hot-ticket item. The lineup features Los Tigres Del Norte, Banda MS, Grupo Frontera and many more — a can’t miss event. Cost: $275 – 950