It’s the most wonderful time of the year…when we get to listen to holiday music!
Idina Menzel is not only my woman-crush. She is my spirit animal. I squeeed for joy when I heard about Holiday Wishes. It was released last year, and it has already become one of my favorite holiday albums.
Contemporary Christmas albums can be very tricky. There’s only so many Christmas carols out there, and there are very few modern originals that are worth listening to. So we inevitably end up with those questionable albums with over-produced songs or weird reggae versions of Jingle Bells.
Not so with Holiday Wishes! The track selection is fresh and interesting. And perhaps the most important thing of all, Idina’s voice makes even the tired and played out carols sound new. Her Broadway voice, with all its lovable affectations and stylings, may not always work with pop songs (“Let It Go” notwithstanding), but it works perfectly with Christmas songs because her tone lends them a gravity and prevents them from sounding run-of-the-mill. She is able to lend the tunes all the emotions wrapped up in the holiday. Because let’s face it, we’re all pretty tired of “Do You Hear What I Hear”, right? Or is that just me? But Idina made me like even that song, and it’s the first track, so we’re off to a great start.
One obvious highlight is the album’s single, her duet with Michael Bublé on “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. That’s enjoyable and definitely fun to listen to. But she also includes some unexpected choices like “When You Wish Upon A Star” and surprisingly, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. I never particularly liked that song, but Idina’s version changed my mind. My personal favorites are “December Prayer”, which she co-wrote, and perhaps the best song on the album, her version of Joni Mitchell’s heartbreaking “River”.
I’m not a fan of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” and all its incarnations, even Idina’s. But everything else is a win, so it’s easy to overlook that.
Have a listen to this amazing album, and I’m sure you’re going to add it to your holiday playlist (if you haven’t already)!