The best time of the year is when the Ann Arbor city workers scurry along South University like renegade elves stringing up hundreds of lights along the otherwise dingy street. One night in late November, out of nowhere, I’ll be trudging back from the Fishbowl at three in the morning stressed beyond belief. I glance up and notice the twinkling lights heralding the start of the holidays, and my heart grows three sizes larger. Suddenly, I’ll be inundated with the holiday spirit and thoughts of snowman-shaped cookies, reindeer, Christmas trees and cozy Santa-patterned jammies.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m babbling on about my favorite holiday treats. This is because I dislike, nay, detest, one aspect of the holiday season that a startlingly number of people enjoy. I hate holiday music. I hate that I have to hear it as soon as the last piece of Halloween candy is gobbled up, but mostly I hate that every pop star feels the need to contribute to this ever-growing “genre” of music.

I’m not immune to the charms of the holidays or even Bing Crosby’s smooth crooning. I’m not here to proclaim a war on Christmas or even its annoying carols.

I do, however, have a strong aversion to pop stars putting out vapid holiday albums. Maybe too many winters spent stuck in traffic for hours with nothing but Christmas pop songs on the radio has hardened my heart, but I can’t help but feel cynical when some starlet tries to rev up his or her career by cashing in on the most wonderful time of the year.

I associate sugary-sweet pop renditions of “White Christmas” or any song about that creep Jack Frost with trips to overcrowded malls. This Black Friday, my hometown mall was decked out with tacky holiday cheer. As I dragged myself to the perfume counter of Macy’s, I was greeted by Jessica Simpson’s new Christmas album Happy Christmas. I say “new” because this is the pop star’s second foray into the world of Christmas music. It seems like the perfect vehicle for Jessica — she doesn’t have to write her own music or come up with anything original, save for the songs “My Only Wish” and “Kiss Me for Christmas,” for which she takes a co-writer credit.

For the most part, it’s yet another forgettable cover of Christmas standards done by the pouting “musician.” Pop stars should only be allowed to release one Christmas album; their second one should be met with derision and instead of profit, they should only get coal.

Of course it would be rash to condemn all holiday albums as a greedy way to cash in on the season. Though it pains me to compliment her, Mariah Carey’s first holiday album infused the concept with some fresh covers like the well regarded (by people who aren’t me) “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which features Carey’s astonishing vocals and maybe even some genuine yearning for something other than fast cash. However, Carey’s latest is of another ilk. The cleverly named Merry Christmas II You (get it?) has a blatantly photoshopped Mariah on the cover surrounded by every holiday-themed item imaginable (snowmen, lights and what appears to be the star of Bethlehem).

The terrifyingly decked-out cover art is pretty indicative of the horrendous album itself. It contains straight-up covers of Christmas standards, never mind the extra heapings of holiday bells and whistles. The album is dull, unimaginative and pretty much a poor follow-up of Carey’s first Christmas record. I’m sure there are some innovative holiday albums out there, but the ones I’ve heard make me want to strangle all nine of Santa’s reindeer.

This terrible trend of putting out holiday albums when one is in need of both money and attention needs to stop. It should have stopped when my beloved (and Jewish) Bob Dylan put out a completely serious, un-ironic album entitled Christmas in the Heart back in 2009. In his defense, all the proceeds went to charity (this doesn’t excuse his baffling version of “Here Comes Santa Claus”) — unlike those of Katharine McPhee, who you’ve probably never heard of or mercifully have forgotten (she won some season of “American Idol”).

On her Christmas album Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You, McPhee captures everything that is wrong with modern Christmas albums: Some generic pop singer lazily sings a couple of sentimental Christmas covers, gets some radio play and makes some easy money. The fact I will be forced to listen to some of these tracks anytime I step foot into an overcrowded mall from mid-October until early January sickens me.

All I want for Christmas is for the madness to stop, for pop stars to write some original music sans jingling bells or jolly beats and please, for the love of the season, stop bombarding me with sexy, breathy versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (I’m looking at you, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson). It just makes me uncomfortable.

I’m not trying to be grinchy. I’m sure there are lots of people who think that the world needs another pop version of “Jingle Bell Rock.” But to quote my favorite holiday movie “Love Actually,” “On Christmas you tell the truth.” I can’t help how I feel.

However, Bob Dylan, if you came caroling at my house, I certainly wouldn’t turn you away.

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