Mariah Carey used to be one of my favorite female artists, though I haven’t really been a fan of any of her albums since her 1997 CD Butterfly. Still, she is arguably the biggest female star of all time not named Madonna, and her success includes having the highest selling Christmas album ever, her 1994 offering Merry Christmas. While it is definitely a decent enough holiday album, I’m not sure it deserves the accolades that it generally receives.
The album is 10 tracks long, consisting of a mixture of tried and true holiday classics and a few original songs co-penned by Carey herself. There is about a 50/50 split between secular and religious songs, with equal enthusiasm from Mariah in her efforts on both sides. The album playlist breaks down as follows:
1. Silent Night
2. All I Want for Christmas Is You
3. O Holy Night
4. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
5. Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)
6. Joy to the World
7. Jesus Born on This Day
8. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
9. Hark! The Harold Angels Sing/Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)
10. Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child
While I do have issues with the album, there are a few songs that do make this CD nearly a must own for anyone’s collection. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is consistently one of the most purchased singles every year for a reason, as it is a downright infectious ditty that draws you in every time you hear it. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and “Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)”, while different in style and tone, are both highlights on an album that is very top-heavy with hits. The fact that two of the three songs that Carey co-wrote are winners is a credit to her ability, even if the rest of the album outside of the three songs mentioned above is mediocre at best.
One of the complaints I do have about the album is that Carey has a tendency to “oversing” a lot of the songs. While this isn’t exactly something that is exclusive to this album for her, it becomes more apparent when she is singing common holiday songs that have been sung hundreds of times before. It isn’t just that she likes to hold onto every note for just a second or two too long (which she does); it is when she feels it necessary to go up and down the entire scale for the sake of showing off her own voice that drives me insane. “Silent Night” and “Hark! The Harold Angels Sing” both suffer from this problem. Just because you have the ability to hit notes that others only dream of doesn’t mean you need to do it on every song; sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
Another problem I have is that while not all the songs are very good, a couple of them are downright terrible. “Joy to the World”, in particular, is the worst version of the song that I have every heard, as it sounds like it was recorded with the express purpose of being played at dance clubs only. The whole rhythm and sound is just wrong, with a backup group that compounds that negative sound. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is off as well, with a bad arrangement and another set of bad backup singers dragging down a classic. The rest of the album, while not as bad, ranges from mediocre to below average, which just isn’t what you would hope for in a Christmas album from someone as talented as Mariah Carey.
Overall, this album is incredibly hit or miss, with a few very strong tracks that make it a worthwhile purchase and the rest of the album being worthy of skipping altogether. In the age of the MP3, where you can pick and choose buying individual songs, albums like this fall by the wayside. Still, I would give the album an overall mild recommendation for the top songs alone; just be aware of the flaws in the rest of the album going in.
This is part of sleeper54's Lean-n-Mean X Write-Off.
This is also a part of bilbopooh's 'Tis the Season Write-Off.
For some other great holiday music: Barry Manilow's A Christmas Gift of Love - The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection - The Best of Bing Crosby: 20th Century Masters, The Christmas Collection - Perry Como’s Greatest Christmas Songs - Michael Buble's Let It Snow - Randy Travis’ An Old Time Christmas - Hall & Oates’ Home for Christmas - Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music - Amy Grant’s Home for Christmas - Christmas Wishes From Kenny Rogers - Kristin Chenoweth’s A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas - The Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait - Barry Manilow’s Because It’s Christmas - Amy Grant’s A Christmas to Remember - Faith Hill’s Joy to the World - Ray Charles’ The Spirit of Christmas - Martina McBride’s White Christmas - Carole King’s A Holiday Carole - Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2 - Michael Buble’s Christmas