According to the deep stocking of wisdom that is Wikipedia, one of Kylie Minogue’s friends thought that the pop star had already made a Christmas album when the idea was mooted. Whatever stoked her friend’s (false) assumption, Minogue’s first full Christmas missive is a wearily familiar affair: even its singer sounds like she’s been here before.
No one sensibly expected an album of minimalist melancholy or some such, of course, but Kylie Christmas trades inspiration for the clumsily obvious from the title downwards – even before you reach the inevitable “Santa Baby”.
Pizzazz is the first casualty on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, where the big-band uplift of Steve Anderson’s over-inflated production prods you like a bothersome partygoer intent on telling you how much fun they’re having.
Yet even with all the good will in the world, Minogue’s guests hardly generate enthusiasm. The collaborators are, mostly, either ill-matched (Iggy Pop, phoning in the growl on “Christmas Wrapping”) or befuddling (James Corden, flattening the notes on “Only You”). Chris Martin’s contribution is entirely as expected: winsome, faux-naïve.
The spread of standards, covers and originals is nicely mixed, but good Christmas albums need to sparkle, evoke or drip with feeling. The Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” should be a safe bet for all three, but Minogue’s cover couldn’t be more disengaged.
Frank Sinatra sounds alert on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, but when your liveliest vocal comes from someone who isn’t actually alive, the desired Christmas feeling clearly isn’t happening.
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