Merry Christmas

Mariah Carey

Columbia Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


With the holiday season quickly approaching, I've found myself drawn to the music surrounding the season. Problem is, I admit I'm quite the fuddy-duddy when it comes to Christmas music. I love the Harry Simeone Chorale's rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy," Bing Crosby belting out "White Christmas," and so many others that I grew up with (that haven't made it to CD). And while I like some of the material on the A Very Special Christmas series, some of the magic is just lacking.

Then, there's Mariah Carey (making her fourth appearance on "The Daily Vault"'s pages). I picked up her 1994 release Merry Christmas for 20 cents at a used record sale this summer - 'course, I didn't know I had bought a bootleg tape. With a DJ job staring me in the face, I thought I'd better listen to it to make sure it was of good quality to play at the party.

And though I ripped Carey a few months ago (and have the flame mail to prove it), I have to admit that I did enjoy this album more than I thought I would. More often than not, Carey's vocals seemperfect for the songs she's singing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Her take on "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is a very enjoyable one, and one where she tampers her multi-octave range to deliver the message of the song. And deliver it she does. A similar number, "All I Want For Christmas Is You," quickly shows why it's one of the more popular songs on the album.

Now, for the admission. Last time I reviewed Carey, I was particularly hard on the way she sang diva-like, that it seemed to be more of a show-off work for her vocals. Well, when you hear the way she hits the high notes on "O Holy Night," you'll appreciate her range. It brought a tear to my eye when I heard it. (Yes, JB, there is a Santa Claus... I found a Mariah Carey song I really like!)

I'll admit I don't think the world needed a dance version of "Joy To The World," but seeing that I have a hard enough time appreciating some of the modern Christmas music, I won't criticize the decision to do the song in this style. (I guess it's not that bad a version, anyway.)

The only real criticism I have of Merry Christmas is Carey's attempt to sing gospel on the last song, "Jesus Oh What A Wonderful Child." Now, I can appreciate her reasons for choosing this song and performing it in this style. But Carey is not a gospel singer,no matter how hard she may try. I just don't think that her vocal style fits the genre. (Settle down if you're now getting ready to flame me; I'm not ripping on her, just stating an opinion.)

The one question about the album is: Will it stand the test of time to become a holiday classic? Well, I dunno; it's only been out for three years, so it's far too early to tell. From my experience, if a Christmas album is still being sold and played 25 years after its release, it's a classic. Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and Andy Williams still sell during the holidays, and their musical genres have somewhat passed. Somehow, I think this album may still sell in 2010.

Merry Christmas is evidence of Carey's talents as a singer, and possibly her wanting to overachieve a bit. But even someone who isn't a big Mariah Carey fan (like, well... y'know...) should find pleasure in this one. Almost restores my faith in the modern holiday music scene.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen 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 Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.