W HEN IT comes to Christmas movie sound tracks, here are some noteworthy selections that belong to the season, no matter what they say.
* The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows." From "Love Actually," 2003. This ensemble piece for the holidays blends Christmas fare (notably "All I Want for Christmas Is You") with nontraditional songs including the Pointer Sisters' "Jump" and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." But it's the Beach Boys' achingly beautiful work that closes the movie and underscores its message of love.
* Chris Brown, "Try a Little Tenderness." From "This Christmas," 2007. The irony, however unintended at the time, is inescapable. Still, Brown is really good. And if that doesn't get you past his personal problems, you can substitute another "This Christmas" song: Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up."
* Bing Crosby, "Be Careful, It's My Heart." From "Holiday Inn," 1942. The movie was about an inn open only on holidays, and Irving Berlin wrote songs for many occasions. In fact, author Jody Rosen says, this was actually penned for Valentine's Day. But the smash hit was "White Christmas."
* Al Green and Annie Lennox (and the movie's cast), "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." From "Scrooged," 1988. The Green/Lennox duet is sung over the closing credits to this modernization of "A Christmas Carol." The cast sings the song, too, as the movie concludes - and Bill Murray tries to get the audience to sing along.
* Whitney Houston, "I Believe in You and Me." From "The Preacher's Wife," 1996. Whitney, at the height of her powers, sings. Nothing more need be said.