I like Elvis. I like Christmas music. But I found little to like in Elvis Presley: The Classic Christmas Album, part of a new line of albums that collect holiday tunes from throughout an artist’s career. The collection starts off on a ghastly note with “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, the King’s “duet” with country-pop star Carrie Underwood. Bias alert: I’m not a big fan of pairing contemporary artists with dead legends on songs. And this particular tune also suffers from an irritatingly mannered vocal performance by Elvis. (The next song on the collection, which features Elvis and Martina McBride, is no better.)
The rest of the album delivers a slew of well-worn holiday tunes with winking, self-aware vocals. And that kind of kills the mood, doesn’t it? Christmas music is supposed to be sentimental and cheesy. Why bother mocking it? There are some highlights: “Blue Christmas” is a bona fide classic, with those great female backing vocals. And “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” combines a gritty Elvis vocal with a bluesy, shuffling beat. But if you’re still looking to add some tracks to your holiday mix, just download those tunes and leave this latest collection alone.