Now That's What I Call Christmas!

Various Artists

UMG Recordings, 2001

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/26/2003

Yes, indeed, this is what I call Christmas; commercial, overblown, excessive, but at its heart pretty decent.

The two-CD set Now That's What I Call Christmas (hereinafter shortened to NTWICC) is the first seasonal megasuper-compilationthing by the commercially minded folks at Sony Music, who are bound and determined to shove commercial mass-market stuff down our throat whether we like it or not. However, in a relatively sensitive and intelligent move, on this double CD set they've included a full CD of classic Christmas music as well as some more modern works.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

To look at each one separately seems the best tactic, so…disc one, the 'classic' disc, is a great, great Christmas CD. With classics from Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis, and The Beach Boys, this is the Christmas music that you probably grew up with, playing on your parents' stereo -- and it's aged pretty well. Warm, friendly, and easily accessible, this disc is sure to be a favorite for your Yuletide listening.

Then there's the second disc.

It starts out OK, with John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," segues into Bruce Springsteen's straining-but-OK "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and continues with Band Aid and Paul McCartney. OK, this is cool, right? Then…horror of horrors…we hit the Michael Bolton. I don't know what in the hell "Our Love Is Like A Holiday" has to do with Christmas, good music, talent, or anything sensible, but it should be taken out back and buried like spoiled eggnog. This song would sterilize elves at fifty feet and make Santa crash his sleigh.

The rest of the second CD is the good (Mannheim Steamroller, Boyz II Men, Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr), the bad (N*Sync, Celine Dion), and the downright ugly (Britney Spears, The Big Yard Family {featuring Shaggy, as if that was something to be proud of}). Much like the average commercial Christmas, NTWICC could have done better with about 2/3 of what's here.

If you find it cheap, buy it. Otherwise, avoid it until they publish that first disc by itself.

Rating: C+

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© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of UMG Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.