Gleeks everywhere this holiday season are getting an early Christmas present with Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2. Despite some forgettable covers and lackluster original songs, this album provides the finger-snapping and grin-inducing Christmas tunes one can expect from the voices of Glee.
There is no better way to start off the season than with a vivacious cover by the ultimate diva herself: Mercedes (Amber Riley). In a tribute to Mariah Carey, Mercedes provides a myriad of vocal riffs, soaring notes and power with her rendition of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
Santana (Naya Rivera) lends her sultry voice to the holiday hit “Santa Baby,” making the lyrics I’ve been an awful good girl seem a little too ironic in the process. Perhaps to counteract the overt sexuality, Glee’s power couple Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) charmingly sing “Let It Snow,” in which perfect harmonies put their previous Christmas duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to shame.
Even Glee’s newest characters have taken their rightful place on the album, in which Harmony (Lindsay Pearce) and Alex Newell, whose character has not yet been introduced, contribute their powerful soprano ranges to “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The gospel choir and mellifluousness are sure to give you chills if you crave those spiritual songs to celebrate Christmas.
Other newcomer Rory (Damian McGinty) will certainly melt the hearts of teenage girls everywhere with his smooth jazz vocals in “Blue Christmas.” Instead of the country twang with which Elvis Presley made this song a holiday classic, Rory works a fluid jazz melody accentuated by a flawless piano accompaniment. If you’re looking to snuggle by the fireside with a cup of hot cider and a blanket for two, this is the song to set the mood.
Some of the more lackluster songs on the album include two original songs: “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” and “Christmas Eve With You.” Though credit should be given for attempting to contribute original pieces, these tunes simply sound like recomposed sound bytes from other holiday hits.
In “Extraordinary Merry Christmas,” Blaine (Darren Criss) and Rachel (Lea Michelle) sing about Santa Claus, kissing under the mistletoe and coming inside from the snow because it’s a very, very merry Christmas. There’s nothing particularly original about it — the piece sounds like a poor Kidz Bop rendition of a song that does little to show off the vocalists’ skills.
Similarly, Will Schuester (Mathew Morrison) and Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) croon to the sweet melody of “Christmas Eve With You.” The entire chorus, however, is let it snow, let it snow, let it snow — sound familiar?
To top it off, singing through the good times and the bad, happy or sad to round off the chorus ends up sounding an awful lot like Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Though it is an endearing duet with delicate vocals, this song is a forgettable tune lacking inspiration.
Other songs that fail to impress are Artie’s (Kevin McHale) version of “Little Drummer Boy” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” sung by the boys of Glee’s very own a cappella group, New Directions. The former is unmemorable, featuring more drums and guitar solos than Artie’s voice, and the latter holiday hit flaunts a modern rock and roll vibe complete with sexy, masculine harmonies. The tune introduces Samuel Larsen, winner of The Glee Project, whose character has yet to be introduced on the show.
Unfortunately, Larsen’s voice is so indistinct one could only try to guess it was him singing. If Glee producers are seeking to establish Larsen’s character, perhaps they should have given him a song to himself like they did with McGinty.
What the album does right is provide variety. This is especially true with Rachel’s rendition of Joni Mitchell’s heartfelt classic “River,” which reflects on the escape from the pain of a lost relationship. It is a beautiful and effortless interpretation, although it lacks the typical vocal power one would expect from the songstress.
Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2 has songs perfect for kissing under the mistletoe, unwrapping presents, snuggling by a fire or even slipping into loneliness. Despite some less familiar tunes than the first volume, this album will put listeners in the undeniable Christmas spirit.