Tag Archives: Christmas

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas

Olivia Newton-John Travolta - This ChristmasJohn Travolta & Olivia Newton-JohnThis Christmas (Universal)

The pairing is complete nostalgia. There is no other reason that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are together for a Christmas album aside from the fact that they were both cast together in a small little movie musical called Grease over thirty years ago.

Grease has flourished since its first run on charm alone. How else can you explain the impossible plot of an Australian immigrant–who is hot off an innocent summer fling with a local gearhead–as she navigates the social landscape of high school with a collective of sexually active girls, headed by a 34-year old Stockard Channing?

As the main characters in the film, Olivia and Travolta aren’t particularly compatible on screen and their voices don’t blend together all that notably during their duets. Regardless, they have managed to become the biggest selling duet in pop history and their presence in Grease completes the film’s campy homage to 50s B-movies, giving all of that aforementioned improbability a free pass.

How these characters have managed to ride Greased Lightening up through the skies and endured for so long is pretty remarkable, so the idea of them returning together to perform Christmas music isn’t completely out of the realm. Unfortunately, when one doesn’t properly attend to the execution of such a reunion, what you get is a record that’s more acknowledged for its weird aftertaste than musical flavor.

I won’t even mention the cover, because it’d be like bitching about how Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tastes nothing like a homemade batch of the gooey comfort food. This is truth in advertising, and the only thing that would make the cover of This Christmas more awesome is if Travolta sported a cheesy seasonal sweater.

As hard as it is to be polite about the cover art, I simply cannot get away from all of the tabloid overtones when Travolta takes over the resistant role of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” We’re all accustomed to Olivia’s occasional glimpses as the sexual aggressor (Shake Shack, anyone?), but to hear Danny Zuko put up a fight to Sandy’s advances thirty years after the fact makes for a perfect hushed whisper of “Beard!”

There are other laugh-out-loud moments within This Christmas that are much less juvenile, but equally surreal. Like the part during “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” when Barbara Streisand pops in for a verse for absolutely no reason at all.

Speaking of guest cameos, there are tons of ‘em. From another brake-slamming appearance (this time with James Taylor on “Deck The Halls”) to a not-so-subtle nod to the Scientology folks with some ivory-tickling from Chick Corea, John and Olivia bring a whole slew of friends to join in their Christmas spirit and it’s as sincere as you pretending to think the gag gift you get at work during your department’s holiday party is funny.

There’s octogenarian Tony Bennett who drops in for “Winter Wonderland,” if you count having your verses recorded at a completely different studio during a completely different session as “dropping in.”

ONJ brings out longtime musical partner John Farrar for the record’s lone original track “I Think You Might Like It.” Farrar was responsible for many of Olivia’s biggest hits, and he served as both the writer and producer for “You’re The One That I Want,” the hit single that propelled the pair into the record books.

Farrar’s latest tune is being called the sequel to that Grease classic, and it’s hard to dispute that claim since it follows nearly the same chord progression under the guise of some light country swag.

Clearly, I’m not the man who should be reviewing This Christmas because I’m overflowing with cynicism at every turn.

So I ask my wife, who often fills the house with a bit of Christmas singing of her own during the holidays, to offer her opinion of the pairing. Suddenly, I find her singing along with This Christmas, causing me to consider that maybe it is my jaded outlook that’s causing me to be so dismissive of this holiday collection.

When I ask her if This Christmas has caused her spontaneous outburst of seasonal caroling, she admitted that it wasn’t the quality of the songs that prompted her singing, but just the familiarity of the material.

Indeed, the selection doesn’t stray far from the obligatory set list that every holiday record seems to cull from. Case in point: ONJ has now selected “Silent Night” for every Christmas album she has released.

This Christmas is the perfect holiday record for anyone who has been waiting since Two Of A Kind for the return of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Beyond that, This Christmas is another run-of-the-mill collection of uninspired holiday classics featuring a bunch of questionable guest appearances and two longstanding friends who can’t seem to get away from those hallowed halls of Rydell High.

An extra star has been added for this release as all proceeds from the sale of This Christmas go to the artist’s charitable foundations.

Video: John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – “I Think You Might Like It”

I Think You Might Like It

Scott Weiland – The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Scott WeilandThe Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Atlantic)

The very idea of a Scott Weiland Christmas album is a strange concept for some, and while I’m not a fan of Mr. Weiland’s work, at least I can grasp the notion that he recently released a collection of holiday songs after hinting at the idea for several years.

When you consider that Weiland’s been flirting with a Bowie blueprint for a big chunk of his career, it’s a given that he would eventually stumble upon the WTF moment that was “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth” collaboration between Bowie and Bing.

But what’s equally bizarre is how Weiland attempts to channel both artists in his own holiday set, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, and how he fails miserably with this approach.

You can judge by the cover that Weiland is attempting to paint a very 50s caricature of himself and much of Most Wonderful Time is drenched in that swingin’ motif. His band channels Dave Brubeck on “What Child Is This?” knowing very well that most of his fans think “Take 5” is just a candy bar rather than a legitimate homage to the hep cats of the Eisenhower generation.

But what Weiland doesn’t understand is the expectation that he too should provide at least some amount of effort for this record to serve as a homage instead of a reckless embarrassment to the artists he portends to honor.

The first half of the record finds Scott using lazy phrasing and a weird vibrato that’s either trying to mask his inability to find the correct pitch or, in fact, actually causing his struggles with staying in tune. I have no idea about Mr. Weiland’s current state of sobriety, but I can tell you that after hearing this vocal styling, it reminded me of my grandfather trying to sing “How Great Thou Art” with my grandmother on organ after too many cans of Hamm’s beer.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year can be described as an existential cry for help. His intent and the performance of his band clearly indicate a level of respect for material, but it’s Scott’s own performance that demonstrates an inability to devote a level of professionalism to even make this seem like a legitimate release. 

Have Yourself A Zenyatta Mondatta Christmas

Merry ChristmasI think it’s fairly easy to buy Christmas gifts for me. Honestly, I don’t know what the trouble is for some. You could easily go and take a look at my record collection, figure out what artists I enjoy and then find out the missing pieces of the artist’s catalog that I don’t have and help fill them in. If you don’t have access to that, just get me a gift card and I’ll figure it out myself.

Honestly, I wouldn’t take offense.

For years growing up, my Father understood that I was a big music fan and he would try to address this each year at Christmas. The problem was that he would take the holidays as an opportunity to try and “teach” me about rock music. In other words, he took it upon himself to try and educate me on some of the artists that he considered to be vital. As a result, there were many years where I would rip open the wrapping on what was obviously a record and then have to feign excitement over a brand new album by…the Yardbirds.

Continue reading Have Yourself A Zenyatta Mondatta Christmas

The Worst Christmas Album Ever Made

Rated X Mas2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the worst Christmas album ever made. You’re probably thinking “That’s a pretty bold statement” but trust me, if you’ve ever heard Matt Rogers’ Rated X Mas album, you’d agree that there isn’t a single Christmas album in the history of recorded music as bad as this one.

Before you actively start looking for Rated X Mas, you need to understand that you can no longer get it. On December 22, 2000, the distributor of the album agreed to settle a copyright infringement action by destroying all remaining copies of it and banning any future sales of the album. You could probably find a copy on Ebay, but why would you want to? The only shame greater than owning Rated X Mas is paying dime for it, particularly under the guise that it’s somehow a collectors item.

With a running time of less than twenty minutes, Rated X Mas is eight songs of pornographic nonsense that’s completely unnecessary. It speaks volumes towards what has gone wrong with the holidays as it selfishly serves the pocketbook of the album’s creators who haphazardly toss around the idea that Rated X Mas is nothing more than a comedic parody effort.

Continue reading The Worst Christmas Album Ever Made

Aimee Mann – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Aimee Mann from her Christmas album, One More Drifter in the Snow, out now on Superego.

We love Christmas songs! Especially ones that involve balls of snow (mp3).

Every year, the Glorious Noise message board community talks about their favorite Christmas songs. Join the fun! To quote Special Ed, “Yo ho, ho ho. Merry Christmas.”

Quasar Wut Wut – The Holiday Song (12 Snowmen, 24 Snowballs)

quasar-wut-wut-the-holiday-song

FREE INTERNET SINGLE: “The Holiday Song (12 Snowmen, 24 Snowballs)” from GLONO’s own Quasar Wut Wut. If you listen closely, you can hear other GLONO alum on backing vocals and a little toot at the end. [New Bandcamp link. -ed.]

Be sure to pick up other GLONO releases for stocking stuffers. Hairy Cringle to you and yours!

Update: direct link to the higher-quality mp3.