PROCEED WITH CAUTION… This review is biased, as it was written by a major Kylie fan. So, if that’s going to bother you, don’t read on. Otherwise, please do!
Kylie Minogue’s long-awaited Christmas album, Kylie Christmas, has arrived! As a longtime fan, I find it hard to believe. I’m listening to it as I write this, but what I’m hearing seems impossible. You see, this is Kylie’s first Christmas album and I’ve wanted a Christmas album from Kylie ever since she released “Santa Baby, included here, as a “Please Stay” B-side almost 15 years ago. Ever since then, I’ve listened to “Santa Baby” every holiday season, each year hoping Kylie would finally release a full-length Christmas album. When she didn’t, I’d feel a little disappointed, a little sad. It wasn’t like I was asking for too much. After all, most pop stars release a Christmas album after their second or third album. At least after the fourth. Yet Kylie has gone roughly 30 years without making one. I don’t know if she was waiting for Madonna to release one first and just now got tired of waiting and decided to make one before her or what. All I know is that Mariah Carey has released two Christmas albums during the time Kylie was opting not to make one. Maybe she was afraid that her fans who don’t celebrate Christmas would be offended? (I suppose that’s possible, as none of the songs here are religious.) Who knows? All I do know is that now it’s here, and I can hardly believe it, but I’m certainly embracing it and playing it every day even though we’re still two weeks away from Thanksgiving.
The album opens with “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” which is the perfect way to begin it, as it’s like Kylie is telling you, Christmas season has arrived. At least that’s how I feel every time I listen to it. It’s such a wonderful rendition, too. Like most of the songs on the album, it has gorgeous horns and the overall vibe is like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra’s classic Christmas albums. So, if you’re expecting these songs to have electronic beats then you’re out of luck. To that end, I definitely think she made the right decision going the classic route with most of these songs. After all, Kylie is nothing if not a classic. Also, speaking of the late Frank Sinatra, Kylie actually duets with him on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”! I’m assuming that his estate or heir approved this and they obviously wouldn’t release his vocals to just anyone. Even Frank Sinatra’s people know that Kylie is a classic!
Kylie has some other special guests in store for you, too. Iggy Pop appears on “Christmas Wrapping,” although that’s an odd one because Kylie does almost all the singing and Iggy just chimes in here and there. As a fan of Iggy, I wish it was a proper duet like she does with Sinatra and James Corden, the latter of which she duets with on a song called “Only You,” which was written by Vince Clarke of Erasure way back in 1982; he dueted with Alison Moyet under the moniker Yazoo on his version. It’s a very touching song, especially the way Kylie and James sing it. You’d swear they were real lovebirds. It’s not entirely a Christmas song, though. In this setting, and with its Christmas-style music, it becomes one. But it wasn’t intended to be a Christmas song originally. Enrique Iglesias recorded it as a normal song in Spanish, for example.
The final guest on the album is none other than Kylie’s sister Dannii Minogue, who appears on a song called “100 Degrees,” which was written by Kylie with longtime collaboraters Howes, Stannard, and Anderson. It’s a dance song, but a classic disco style one, not EDM or even close to that. And, yes, it’s a Christmas song. “It’s still Christmas to me / Oh, we’re gonna dance tonight / Oh, let the temperature rise to 100 degrees,” goes the catchy chorus.
Of course, Kylie doesn’t need special guests to sing Christmas songs; only 3 of the 16 tracks on the deluxe edition feature them. There is someone famous who wrote one of the other songs though. That would be Chris Martin of Coldplay, who wrote “Every Day’s Like Christmas,” one of a handful of original songs on the record. It’s a sweet ballad about being with the one you love at Christmas. Well, OK, the song goes, “you make every day like Christmas,” but it’s a song you’re probably only going to listen to at Christmas. I should also mention that this one has a bit more of a modern vibe, though it hardly sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s only as modern as they could go without that happening.
The final song I’m going to mention is “White December,” which Kylie wrote with Matt Prime and her longtime collaborator Karen Poole. (Karen wrote or co-wrote several of her songs, including “Red Blooded Woman,” “Chocolate, “Wow,” “Timebomb” and “Sparks.”) It begins with lively piano and only grows more so as it goes on. It’s one of the most vibrant songs on the album, to be sure. “It’s got me praying for snow,” Kylie sings, which is the only religious lyric I’ve spotted on the album so far. Clearly, this is a modern take on “Let It Snow,” and it shares its cheerful mood, but otherwise the songs are different in every way possible. And while “Let It Snow” has never inspired me to go outside in the snow and enjoy it, “White December” just might.
Other Christmas albums will be released during the coming weeks, but this is the only Christmas album you *need.* OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but it’s as perfect as any Christmas album could possibly be. Plus, it has the duet with Sinatra, and that alone makes it mandatory listening in my book.