By Roberto Queiroz
It is almost that time of year again when: the streets are draped in bright reds and greens , when the twinkling of lights moulded into silhouettes of Santa and Rudolph and even dear old Scrooge –guide your journey ,when the smell of Turkey and a sherry-drenched cake envelop your nostrils and your taste buds . Christmas time is on our doorstep and there is one question on everybody’s mind – what will be waiting for me under the tree?
She has sold over 200 million records and garnered 18 number one hits –beating Elvis to become the artist with the most number one hits in history, she has a 5 octave range that has seen her spend over 20 years in the music business and 5 Grammies later with a net worth estimated at over half a billion dollars ‘Mother Christmas’ herself: Mariah Carey has a gift for the world.
Taking just under two years to complete, Carey has finally released her long awaited sequel to her previous 1994 Album Merry Christmas with the soulful and triumphant Merry Christmas 2 you-Deluxe Edition. Packed with intricate, brassy melodies and re-mastered Christmas classics, Carey’s latest creation will undoubtedly conjure up the Christmas spirit and cheer that this upcoming festive season needs.
Carey makes a bold move in the right direction with her collaboration with Tony award winning Broadway composer Marc Shaiman. Shaiman weaves his fantastical magic by introducing the listeners to the general sound of the album with a comforting live orchestra on Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Intro) ,which proves a tasty morsel for the main course ahead. The up-tempo lead single: Oh Santa – produced by Jermaine Dupri – accelerates the album into 1st gear with its catchy hook and high note extravaganza and although the single displays Carey’s most basic vocal performance, this is necessary to balance with the thunderous belting of power singles like One Child and When Christmas Comes – co-written by James Poyser .
When many thought Carey’s days of soul were history, listening to the Nat King Cole-inspired Christmas Time Is In The Air Again would silence any critic. Carey not only displays her mastery of melody and voice on this single but also encapsulates her multicultural music background by successfully mixing Jazz and Gospel as well as her famous brand of 1980’s Hip-Hop with Here Comes Santa Claus. Along with a raspy bass guitar; the sampling of Chic’s Good Times provides an infectious anthem for any Christmas celebration.
Nonetheless, where Carey truly shines is on the only duet on the album. O Come All Ye Faithful’/’Hallelujah Chorus showcases some of Carey’s most impressive vocal acrobatics of the past 10 years with her ability to sing almost every note on a piano scale. The real surprise, however, comes in the form of the accompanying opera singer on the track. The powerful operatic vocals were delivered by none other than Carey’s very own mother — the obscure Patricia Carey. This is probably the first time that most people have heard the Opera singer and she no-doubt delivers. The duo’s vocals soar gloriously on the James ‘Big Jim’ Wright and Randy Jackson-crafted masterpiece, climaxing with a prevailing combination of choir, instruments and high-octave belting. This is the jewel of the album.
The revamping of her mega hit All I want For Christmas is You – which managed to be a top seller every year since being released in 1994 – as well as the rendition of Oh Holy Night which was recorded live in 2000 in Los Angeles, manages to bring new life to both songs as well as solidify Carey as one of the strongest female vocalists of all time. The only poorly executed song of the entire album is her rendition of the New Year’s Anthem: Auld Lang Syne. The vocals leave much to be desired especially from a woman with “the voice of an angel”, however conceptually does serve as a possible metaphor for things to come in the future with Shaiman – her new muse – and a new year of possibilities ahead with her newly born twins and her presenter Husband Nick Cannon
Merry Christmas 2 You is undeniably the most impressive body of work Carey has put forward since 2005’s The Emancipation of Mimi. Combining Pop, Jazz, Gospel, R&B and even Hip-Hop, she proves once again why she is considered to one of the most prolific artists that the industry has ever seen and easily the most bankable musician to be wrapped up and put under your Christmas tree.