Rarely is a compilation record as satisfying as Platinum Christmas is, but it's not due so much to the N'Sync's' rather whiny take on "I Don't Want to Spend One More Christmas Without You," the showy vocal gymnastics of Christina Aguilera on "Silent Night," or even Carlos Santana's enigmatic noodling on "Posada (Pilgrimage to Bethlehem)" as it is to some of the "lesser" lights on the disc who turn in the most memorable performances. For instance, Christian rockers Jars of Clay whip up a stunningly rhythmic version of "Little Drummer Boy" that borders on reggae, spiked with an ingenious bass line and a sinewy, liquid guitar that elevate the song above mere holiday cover material. Also, former Faithless vocalist Dido's strong and bracing acceptance of lost love on the gothic, delightfully chilling "Christmas Day" and Joe's urbane and single-minded "This Christmas" distinguish this collection from the usual holiday combo plate. But that's not to say that Britney Spears's breathy "My Only Wish (This Year)" isn't irresistible (conjuring up visions of Phil Spector dancing in our heads), or that TLC's wickedly self-indulgent "Sleigh Ride" doesn't shine like drugstore tinsel. And it's the effortless and graceful musings of Dave Matthews on the spiritually uplifting "Christmas Song" and Toni Braxton's sparse and elegant rendering of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" that really help to make the season bright. --Jaan Uhelszki
At first the album starts out with a pop sound, Britney does ok with My Only Wish (This Year) and Monica's Grown-up Christmas list is nice.
Then the album decides it isn't really pop, and moves on to some much more rewarding and worth having latin sounds. Christina Aguilera's rendition of Silent Night/Noche De Paz is truly lovely. Followed by Santana's instrumental Posada, the latin sounds are stirring and beautiful. You can just make out some of the melody of Little Drummer boy in there.
So for once in this album we've actually got a nice transition to Jars of Clay's Little Drummer Boy. Still, we've definitely moved away from Latin and into soft rock. Jars of Clay is one of my favorites, but I have to say that while Little Drummer Boy is very nice, it lacks luster and passion (Check out Tori Amos' version if you really want to be moved, but that isn't on this album) Dave Matthews'Christmas song is original, interesting, emotional, and very much worth getting, although I wonder about some of the lyrics, "The blood of our children all around?" Ok. Thought this was Christmas.
Dido's Christmas day is why I bought the album in the first place, and it is Spectacular. She has a clear, brilliant voice, and sings a must have song of unrequited love and promises unfulfilled. Gorgeous.
Radical switch again. Now we're back to the Pop sound with Steps and Backstreet Boys--never my favorites--then onto a bit of a nothing song with R. Kelly's world christmas.
Ok time for another radical switch in the sound of the album. Now it is more R&B with Donell Jones'My Gift To You. TLC's Sleigh Ride could be great in another context, but we've been kinda chillin' with the other songs, and this upbeat and somewhat brash tune comes at you like a thrown brick. This song is nice, it just belongs on a different mix. Then Toni Braxton and Whitney round out the last portion of the album with some nice R&B sounds that again just don't seem to match the rest of the album.
The latin sounds and mellow tunes are worth it for me, but it's one of those albums where you only listen to certain songs.