Album: Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas II You (Mercury)

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The Independent Culture

It's 16 years since Mariah Carey's first Christmas album, and there's nothing here to suggest she's developed significantly since then.

Indeed, the addition of an "Extra Festive" mix of that album's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" rather shames the newer material, little of which challenges it for sheer exuberance. The best new tracks are those helmed by Jermaine Dupri, the skipping-song-style single "Oh Santa!" and a "Here Comes Santa Claus". Elsewhere, ill-fitting carols are clumsily medleyfied together, lush strings swamp breathy balladry, and a children's choir gives "One Child" a Jackson-esque glutinous quality. But none of this prepares one for Mariah's duet with her opera-singing mom on a mis-matched medley of "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Hallelujah Chorus": make it stop, someone!

DOWNLOAD THIS Oh Santa!; Here Comes Santa Claus; All I Want for Christmas Is You