So, after reviewing Merry Christmas, With Love, I guess I’m somewhat in the holiday mood. I took a look through my CD collection, when my eyes landed upon *NSYNC‘s holiday album, Home for Christmas. Next thing I knew, I was wishing it was snowing outside, even though it IS the end of August.
I bought this album four years ago, back in the prime of my *NSYNC fandom, but it’s still a great CD- and I bring it out every year around the holidays. The CD lacks holiday standards, which is nice if you’re tired of the classics, but some of the new songs fall flat (more on that later, though). The guys’ harmonies are fantastic as always- and we even get to hear Joey, Lance, and Chris sing on a few songs, which is a rarity.
This album starts off with the title track, Home For Christmas, which opens with some beautiful harmonizing from the guys. Justin sounds really good in the first verse as he sings about longing to be home with his family. The tempo picks up during the chorus, and JC takes control of the second verse. Towards the end a gospel choir joins the guys and makes the song a great opener for the album.
My first thoughts when hearing Under My Tree is how young Justin sounds. Of course, he was only 17 when the album was released (1998), but it really stands out, especially compared to how mature his voice is now. Anyway, this is a mid-tempo, R&B song that JC mostly leads. I’m a big fan of JC’s voice, so this song is really a treat. There are some nice harmonies towards the end as the guys sing, “It’s that time of year/Christmas is here”.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays is an *NSYNC classic. Believe it or not, this upbeat and cheery Christmas song was what turned me into a fan. Justin and JC co-wrote this song, and I have to admit the lyrics are very corny (“It’s a wonderful feeling/Feel the love in the room/From the floor to the ceiling” and “Bells are ringing/It’s time to scream and shout (scream and shout)/And everybody’s playing cause school’s out” are the worst lines on the track), but it kind of makes you want to pat the guys on the head and say “good effort” all the same. At least they improved their song writing skills by the time they released Celebrity.
A real Christmas classic appears next with The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Christmas album where this song was absent. *NSYNC’s version, like most of the others, isn’t too much different from the original, but it’s still worth listening to. The song has a jazzy, relaxing feel to it that comes off nice. And for all the JC fans out there, he actually wishes all of us a “Merry Christmas” at the end of the song, which is a cute touch. The First Noel has always been one of my favourite Christmas songs, but it’s hardly ever done, so it’s nice to also see it on the disc. JC and Justin take control of the verses again, but the guys have some strong harmonies on the choruses. The song starts off very soft and quiet, but picks up during the chorus, adding in a drum loop and synthesizers, which you might think would sound corny, but it actually adds a nice, modern touch to this classic song.
The best of the “classics”, however, is the boys’ acappella rendition of O Holy Night. I LOVE this song so much- there are just so many wonderful things about it. First off, O Holy Night is my favourite Christmas song ever (and you’d know that if you’ve already read my reviews of Clay Aiken and Christina Aguilera’s holiday albums ;)). This is probably my favourite rendition of it, too. I love the fact that this acappella, so there is no distracting background, and you can fully focus on the guys singing. Everyone gets a chance to shine here- Lance’s lovely bass voice adds strength in the background and Justin and JC’s smooth vocals handle the verses very well. Chris’ voice is less sharp here, and he sounds beautiful. I love this song so much; it’s yet another piece of evidence that *NSYNC really can sing. I can listen to this track year round!
The rest of the album is made up of a few originals, some of them decent, and the rest, well…a bit corny. I Never Knew It Was Christmas falls in the latter category. The song is a corny cliché; how many songs do we really need about the “true” meaning of Christmas? Apparently about ten thousand. Anyway, the guys sound good as always, but not quite good enough to make this song worth listening to. I Guess It’s Christmas Time starts off with a rarely-heard solo from Chris. Despite how annoying his voice is to me, I still have to admit that it’s nice to hear some of the other guys get solos besides Justin and JC. This song is really corny too, possibly even worse than I Never Knew the Meaning of Christmas. This one is about embracing the “true” meaning of Christmas *:rolls eyes*. Musically, it’s not too bad- it’s mid-tempo, and the guys sound good as always (besides Chris’ solos), but the corniness is just a bit overwhelming. Plus the title is so annoying to me. I Guess it’s Christmas Time? what is that supposed to mean? What do they have to guess about? It’s obviously Christmas if people are putting up trees and ornaments…I just don’t get it. Though It’s Christmas is as corny as the others, I admittedly like it a bit more. Again, Joey and Chris get to sing quite a bit here, and they really do make the song (Chris still sounds annoying, but I’m so overjoyed with the fact that he’s actually getting highlighted that I can overlook it). This one is all about being with that special someone during the holidays. The harmonies on this song have an old school, Temptations feel to it, probably because of Chris and Joey’s dominance in the song. Either way, this song is sweet, and I really like it.
Meanwhile, All I Want Is You This Christmas sounds like it’d be on an easy listening or jazz station, with its mellow vibe and jazzy horns that play throughout the background. The song has a classy and mature touch to it which I really enjoy. The guys put on their best Boyz II Men impression on In Love for Christmas, a mid-tempo ballad with an R&B beat. The track starts off with the guys singing aJingle Bells “remix”, and then fades into the actual song. At times they are definitely stretching to keep up with the R&B feel the song has with it, and it’s quite noticeable. I think the part that’s the hardest to deal with is the end when JC makes shot-outs to his “grandmamma” and his “granddaddy”, which I think made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. JC just doesn’t pull of the “street” thing very well.
The disc comes to a close with Kiss Me At Midnight, a cheesy, albeit likeable, little number with a techno beat in the background. Sure, the cheap production actually reminds me of a few songs off their debut album, but just like those songs, this one is very high energy and full of fun. It’s also nice to see a song about New Years beside the typical “Auld Lang Syne”. There’s even a countdown (where some people scream “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”) that runs through the song which adds to the fun of it all.
Overall, Home for Christmas is a decent holiday album. The classic remakes are wonderful, and though some of the original songs are hit-and-miss, this CD is still a must-have for any *NSYNC fan.
1. Home For Christmas
2. Under My Tree
3. I Never Knew the Meaning of Christmas
4. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
5. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
6. I Guess It’s Christmas Time
7. All I Want Is You (This Christmas)
8. The First Noel
9. In Love On Christmas
10. It’s Christmas
11. O Holy Night (A Cappella)
12. Love’s In Our Hearts On Christmas Day
13. The Only Gift
14. Kiss Me At Midnight
*This is a “classic” review. I have edited this review for content and formatting, though retained my original opinion of the product.