Idina Menzel – Holiday Wishes

Idina Menzel - Holiday WishesIdina Menzel had a huge year. From the success of Frozen trickling over into 2014, her latest Broadway show If/Then, which opened a few months into the year, and her propulsion into the mainstream as the famed mistakenly-identified Adele Nazeem. What’s next on the to-do list? Why, a holiday album of course!

Idina’s holiday album Holiday Wishes is her fourth studio record and first in six years. (Fun fact: her last album was produced by Glen Ballard in 2008.) It contains some of the expected familiar classics but it isn’t too predictable nor is the tracklisting too plain. You have the standards like Silent Night, The Christmas Song and Baby It’s Cold Outside, but there’s also some of the under-appreciated titles like Do You Hear What I Hear and Holly Jolly Christmas.

Idina adds a pleasant contemporary twist to the classics, particularly The Christmas Song and Silent Night, which has an ending that most might find long-winded and unnecessary but for me it’s the high point of the album.

It’s one of the only times Idina really ventures off course and does something particularly different. The other is with the cover of Mariah‘s classic All I Want For Christmas Is You, where she lets her Broadway lifestyle trickle in and makes it just a little bit swing.

Idina is known for her voice and while she doesn’t quite go to the extremes of Christina Aguilera or Jessica Simpson on their respective holiday collections, she does make the fault of occasionally focusing more on her voice than the songs themselves, and it takes away from the festivity.

And there isn’t a whole lot of that to begin with. All I Want For Christmas Is You and Holly Jolly Christmas are the only uptempo songs to offset an album made up mostly of ballads and slow standards. She does kick things up a notch with Baby It’s Cold Outside, but that errs more on the side of creepy than the irony her and duet-partner Michael Bublé may have been going for – I’d say it’s more because of his delivery than hers. There are a few lines thrown in that seem like they’re trying to play up the song’s lyrical reputation rather than ignore it but it’s more side-eye awkward than playful.

Overall, she just doesn’t sound into the project. It sounds stiff and and too safe. And if you’re like me, good holiday music serves as the foundation for memories. Holiday Wishes is unlikely to be that unless you’re still on your Frozen kick.
Two Stars

1. Do You Hear What I Hear
2. The Christmas Song
3. Baby It’s Cold Outside [with Michael Bublé]
4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
5. All I Want For Christmas Is You
6. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
7. December Prayer
8. When You Wish Upon A Star
9. Silent Night
10. River
11. Holly Jolly Christmas
12. White Christmas

Afterthought: Interesting that the lyrics to the music video for Baby It’s Cold Outside are actually different than the ones on the album. The clean version, perhaps? 😉

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