It’s November! You know what that means! Shopping centres are full of Christmas goods and Christmas hampers are advertised to death on the TV. Of course I could have said the same in October, with the “Christmas Creep” creeping earlier and earlier each year. But it’s not all pumpkin lattes and awkward mistletoe moments at staff Christmas parties. Along with the tacky, cheesy Christmas staples come some gems genuinely worth looking forward to. For me it’s the battle over who has the worst joke in the bon bon and Love Actually. And now I can add Idina Menzel’s new record, Holiday Wishes.
The darling of Broadway has had one hell of a year. As well as starring in the acclaimed production If/Then, she voiced the character of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen and had one of the biggest hits of the year on her hands with the juggernaut of a single Let It Go. It may have been predictable that Idina would release a holiday album as the cherry on top of the 2014 sundae, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t hit it out of the park.
The songs aren’t original, in selection or arrangement, but the one thing they have going for them is simply that it is Idina. Her voice is nothing short of extraordinary. The songs, familiar as they may be, are worth another listen just because it is this woman singing them. Do You Hear What I Hear, Silent Night and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas are performed beautifully if not exactly as expected. The Christmas Song is pretty and fresh and Idina absolutely elevates it in her vocal delivery towards the end.
White Christmas is given a jazzy spin with a feature saxophone and a vocal that dares you to try to keep up with her. All I Want For Christmas is a daring choice, and stands up to Mariah Carey’s original well enough. The stand outs by far however are the surprising inclusion of When You Wish Upon A Star, the Michael Buble duet Baby It’s Cold Outside and the refreshing cover of Joni Mitchell’s River.
While there’s nothing new to see here, I am jumping at the chance to replace my Glee Christmas playlist, although Lea Michele’s rendition of O Holy Night will forever be the greatest Christmas carol I have ever heard. I will gladly listen to anything Idina Menzel delivers, and while Holiday Wishes does’t quite pull at the heartstrings the way Rent’s No Day But Today or Wicked’s Defying Gravity do, this album will still make quite the stocking stuffer and I imagine, quite the revenue raiser for Idina.