Call this one a compromise. Maybe I’m just not in the festive spirit yet – or if I was, I’m definitely not now – but voluntarily listening to Christmas music right now feels like a real mare. Christmas albums have never been easy though, and my flirtations with them in the past haven’t always been easy (see Mariah, Jewel, Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos and… Mariah again).
It’s been a typically American venture, the album of Christmas standards (though bizarrely Mariah’s first Xmas album is her biggest seller in Japan), but signs seem to be leading towards a breakthrough on the UK charts too, particularly with Michael Buble’s LP last year. Leona Lewis landed herself with her first top 3 hit in 4 years (and wasn’t far off #1) today with “One more sleep” from her new Christmas album, but Kelly Clarkson isn’t having quite the same time of it here.
She’s paid her dues Stateside, and this latest offering has got off to a good start, over halfway to the million mark already. But while I love Kelly as a singer and a personality, there was something that didn’t click with me about the album. Maybe it’s just too many times I’ve heard these standards, it just feels a bit too intense. Kelly’s always had a lot of power behind her voice, and I think in some cases less is more.
So I’ll just settle for reviewing the original main single. If you get a Christmas hit, that could well end up a retirement fund, so it’s surprising how rarely a new song makes it onto the compilations. This is a sterling effort anyway, very bouncy and fun and puts you in the mood of Mariah’s seminal festive hit. It’s laid on a bit thick with the sleigh bells and church bells etc. with Kelly having to go full-belt just to keep her head above the production.
Still, very nice and hasn’t (quite) gone down the faux-town route that people seem obsessed with these days, so I’d call that a win.