Today’s POP RESCUE from a sad Christmas stocking, is the 2000 Christmas album My Kind Of Christmas by Christina Aguilera.
This 11 track album opens with harpsichord and the ‘faa laa laa la la laa‘s of Christmas Time, before the bass and beats drop in and Christina Aguilera’s unmistakeable high-pitched voice comes soaring in. This is a brand new track and it’s definitely an RnB Christmas song, complete with oodles of warm backing vocals. The song gives Christina a great platform to show off her vocal range and harmonies.
Tinkling bells usher in This Year as Christina ‘oohs’ and ‘urrrgghhhhs’ all over the beginning like she’s being stumped by a really tough sudoku. Again, this is another original RnB song, and again it lets Christina roar and wail throughout. Gentle sleigh bells carry us through as some simple little synth strings take us to the chorus (the best bit). Sadly there’s a bit too much time given over to wailing in this song.
A child’s music box plays as the classic Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas begins. This gives Christina a great showcase for her vocals – as gentle strings and double bass quietly accompany her. From about 2m 35s she’s joined by some brass too, which helps to give the song a bit more strength and encourages her to make her vocals reach even higher. The end result is a fantastic vocal performance over a wonderful orchestral song.
Angels We Have Heard On High is the next traditional song to be covered. This version is laden with beats and strumming acoustic guitars, whilst Christina sings over the top with backing vocalists provided by the LA Mass Choir. Eric Dawkins gets a solo in the middle. This isn’t the easiest of songs to follow in the first place, so this version kind of just muddles it up further.
Next up is Merry Christmas, Baby, which sees Christina singing over the top of a piano, with maximum warbling vocals. Musically this sounds like a big blues band version – with brushed snares, brass, and piano, and therefore the appearance of Dr. John makes absolute sense. His gruff vocals give a great contrast to Christina’s soaring high pitched powerful vocals.
Oh Holy Night follows, giving Christina another traditional carol to sing. She begins pitched against some piano and warm strings. She’s definitely got the vocal skills to take this song with ease. About half way through she gives way to speak the Lord’s Prayer, before returning to the song with the LA Mass Choir again, before the song takes a blues sound (instigated by what I can only imagine was her clumsily clambering up onto the piano and kneeing the keyboard). Not for the first time, she sounds like Mariah Carey on this album.
This is followed by These Are The Special Times, a song written by legendary songwriter Diane Warren. The song could easily have been switched over to Whitney Houston, or even Michelle McManus. It’s middle-of-the-road complete with key change and pretty unmemorable and ironically not ‘special’ at all. Oh well.
Up next is This Christmas – a cover of the Donny Hathaway classic. This version is pretty loyal to the 1971 original, and Christina tackles the vocal range with great ease and without over-egging it until towards the end when she switches on her auto-warble, but then switches it off and gets back to the song again with full force and backing singers. Over all, I like this cover.
The Christmas Song follows this and after a few clanging bells, Christina ‘oohs‘ her way in over a piano as she takes on the familiar lyrics of this classic 1940s Nat King Cole song. The beauty in this song is its general emptiness – whilst Christina’s vocals dominate the first half, the song grows well before bursting into an orchestral track by approximately the 2m 30s mark. Again, she reaches towards Mariah’s 90’s vocal territory toward the end with her high pitched notes before ending it with a slightly shy ‘merry christmas’ spoken message at the end.
Xtina’s Xmas follows this – another original track but apart from ‘it’s Christmas time‘ being repeated with various different affects applied to it, it’s 1m 32s that you’ll never get back. Just skip over it…
…although that then takes you on to a head-on collision with The Christmas Song (Holiday Remix), which in itself is a bit of a travesty. This is a 2000 dance-pop of this 40’s christmas song. It feels unnecessary, but it gave Thunderpuss another big name to add to their remix portfolio (Madonna, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears etc). Musically, this song might have worked if it was a Christmas song.
Over all, you could probably slice off a clear 15 minutes of this album if Christina halved her unnecessary warbling/wailing, and it would make it somewhat better. Whilst there’s no doubting her vocal abilities, she over-does her non-word vocal noises, resulting in well known Christmas songs being padded out by her own self-indulgence. I can imagine Mariah Carey sitting at home laughing at this in 2000, confident that her 1994 album was safely unrivalled.
Where is Christina Aguilera now?
Christina found great success with this album in the US, giving her another platinum million-selling album.
Christina released a ‘greatest hits’ album Keeps Gettin’ Better – A Decade Of Hits after this in 2008, but it was 2010’s Bionic that would give her her next #1 UK album. In 2010, Christina took a lead role in film Burlesque with Cher.
She has also appeared as a coach on The Voice, and also has had a recurring role in TV series Nashville.
In 2011 she featured as a vocalist on the huge hit Moves Like Jagger with band Maroon 5, becoming one of the best-selling digital singles of all time. However, her most recent UK charting album, 2012’s Lotus stalled at #28, spending just 2 weeks on the chart. It has become her least successful album to date.
She announced in early 2015 that she was busy writing her next album with Pharrell Williams, and has hinted at it’s 2016 release date.
POP RESCUE RATING:
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 2 / 5
- 2000 UK CHART PEAK: Didn’t chart in the UK.
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.49 from an eBay seller.