HO HO HO! Do you hear what I hear? It’s time to don our GAY APPAREL, put a log on the fire and do other cliched Christmas activities while I kick off December with some festive music.
I must say I was a little anxious to venture into the sickly world of Christmas albums. But if you are going to make an effort to listen to them as a genre, you might as well start with the biggest selling Christmas album of all time. Bizarrely, Merry Christmas is the 2nd highest selling non-Asian artist album of all time in Japan, only kept off the top by Mariah’s #1s collection, bonkers! Anyway, let’s DO THIS.
07 Silent Night – Opening with one of the biggies, and basically exactly what I imagine a Mariah reading of this song to sound like. As a result, a bit of a safe starter, though that’s by no means a negative. With these sort of songs you really can’t mess around too much. If you want to experiment, write a new bloody song!
10 All I want for Christmas is you – OMGZ well while it doesn’t seem to be acknowledged by the real music brigade that this is the greatest Christmas song of all time (Slade can BITE ME), you’ll have no such opposition from me. Even 18 years later (!) this still is a relatively modern Christmas classic, and still feels amazing as ever. I suppose Christmas is one of those things you don’t really try to modernise, but that doesn’t mean Christmas songs have to fit the same tired template. AMAZING
09 O Holy Night – Back in rather dullsville carols-by-numbers. But I suppose that’s where this album wins, there are thousands of covers of these songs, but Mariah’s voice (on this album at least) is really superb and lifts it wonderfully. She’s certainly got the lungs behind this one, we are even graced with a whistle moment *puts hand in air*. I don’t really know what’s going on with that rather blank instrumental void halfway through though… but never mind.
08 Christmas (Baby please come home) – I don’t recognise this cover, but it’s got a lovely Motown vibe about it. It’s not QUITE firing off for me, it’s got a nice tempo to it, but I suppose it might suffer (as the other tracks do) from not being as great as AIWFCIY. It’s over before you know it too, but I can’t say I’m in a rush for more.
07 Miss you most (at Christmas time) – Another new track, but this isn’t quite doing it for me. It’s a sweet enough ballad, but it doesn’t have a lot to it. My attention starts to drift a little at the midpoint. I love her vocals as usual, just not the song.
08 Joy to the world – I know she has the VOX, I did worry about this meaning the finish product would turn out as overbaked as Xtina. I did worry also at the start of this track that this would be another meandering rendition, but then suddenly they throw a dance beat in there! It’s not poppers o’clock or anything, but in fairness this is a 1994 Christmas album so that’s still a bit of a curveball. We don’t turn the dial up much further than Metro Mix, but that’s enough to turn this one around.
06 Jesus born on this day – What’s with all this RELIGION? This isn’t the true spirit of Christmas at all. I think she should have done “12 days of Christmas” to reflect the true meaning – BUYING STUFF. Anyway, this is nice enough but the whole JEEEESSUUUUSSS stuff makes me a bit squirmy as an agnostic heathen. It’s a bit too HYMNY for my tastes.
08 Santa Claus is comin to town – Now this is more like it, lovely lullaby intro into … wait, isn’t this just AIWFCIY again? Apparently not, I guess they were short on backing tracks that day. Anyway this does well just by being a great song in the first place, though it’s a bit of a Vonda Shepard version if I’m honest, but I still like it.
08 Hark the herald angels sing – OK fine I just moaned about a track being too hymny, and I suppose this is the very definition of that. After all, do you hear the word “hark” in many mainstream pop hits? But this is one of my favourites (I didn’t realise I HAD favourite hymns/carols), and this is a ROUSING RENDITION of the classic with a full-on Gospel blowout, lovely!
06 Jesus Oh what a beautiful child – More Gospel, but a bit too Jesus-heavy again, I’m not really into this sort of swing choir stuff if I’m honest. It does switch it up a bit before the end for a last-minute uptempo spurt but it’s too little too late.
08 God rest ye merry gentlemen – I like my Christmas religiosity to be a bit more ICY and dramatic like this, and an acapella version like this is rather a nice end to the album. Just works for me. Too short though!
All in all, a rather nice effort, barring a few “skip button” moments when the religion got laid on a bit too thick. But I mean it IS Christmas so I suppose I can overlook that. Either way, added to the fact it has the all-time greatest Christmas song, this is a resounding success for an album I thought might be a bit unapproachable. WELL DONE MIMI.