I love, love, LOVE Mariah Carey's original Merry Christmas album! I discovered it only a few years ago, but I listen to it every Christmas. "Miss You Most," "Jesus Born on This Day," and "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child," are my faves. So when I caught wind of her second Christmas album, I was more than anxious to hear. And Merry Christmas II You (cute title) does not disappoint—I love it more than the first! The Merry Christmas album features traditional Christmas music infused with gospel and pop. And although this latter album continues in that tradition with "The First Noel," and the remakes of "All I Want for Christmas is You" and "O Holy Night," Merry Christmas II You is steeped with jazz and soul!
There is nothing blatantly wrong with this album. Most of the songs, especially "Christmas Time is in the Air," are classic, elegant, jazzy, and cinematic. Merry Christmas II You contains a spruced up, equally infectious, but not incredibly different remix of "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Carey's most popular song from the original album. Other secular Christmas carols include a dance mix of "Auld Lang Syne," an R&B interpretation of "Here Comes Santa Claus," and her own Hip-Pop infused "Oh Santa!" (featured on her Macy's commercial).
While these songs are fine, they don't compare to the yet unmentioned others. One of them is "Charlie Brown Christmas," in which Carey marries original lyrics with the beloved Charlie Brown theme song, producing a nostalgic tune that is appropriate for the season. Another is "O Come All Ye Faithful," featuring her opera-singing mom, Patricia Carey. Both beautiful and sentimental, their rendition remains true to the gospel essence of the hymn while incorporating Carey's style, along with her mother's.
My favorite songs in this collection are original songs, “One Child” and “When Christmas Comes.” "One Child" conveys the original and intended purpose of the Christmas season—to rejoice in the birth of Christ. Carey, accompanied by a children's choir, appeals to my Christmas spirit as she urges me to "worship and adore Christ the Lord," and sing along. And "When Christmas Comes" not only makes me want to sing—I want to move, I want to groove—this song is very smooth! It has soul in proportions comparable to Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas."
All in all, the quality of the music is superb. It's obvious that Carey worked extra hard to prove her critics wrong, and she's convinced me that her vocals are still as powerful and as versatile as ever. Not only is she vocally present, Carey and her producers were also conceptually creative. For instance, bits and pieces of different Christmas carols are skillfully knit together, such as in "O Little Town of Bethlehem/ Little Drummer Boy Medley." As I think about it, Merry Christmas II You reminds me of a Christmas concert at the Met (grand and spectacular). And the lush strings, signature Christmas sounds of bells and children, and Carey's cashmere vocals work together beautifully and take the listener on a sleigh-ride through Winter Wonderland!