Various Artists: NOW That’s What I Call Christmas! 4

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Posted December 9, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Two-disc NOW compilation full of recycled holiday goodies and re-recycled leftovers

The fourth in the NOW! Christmas series follows the same format as its descendants: a double-disc set with new school performers handling one side and holiday classics and rock’s legends making up the other. Sadly, the producers behind these sets must be battling a bad case of dementia since the second set recycles almost half of the content from the 2006 set (Vol. 3) and some of the offerings heard on 2008’s Essential Now…Christmas disc, like Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Andy Williams’ “Most Wonderful Time” and the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.” You’re beginning to wonder if the folks behind Sony’s holiday packaging are running low on holiday classics since they’re recycling the same pop standards like obvious rock n’ roll rehashes in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band war.

Aside from the underwhelming playlist of re-repeats, people usually gravitate to the NOW series to hear the newer material. And there’s a good list to play with: Rihanna contributes a reggae drum n’ bass take on “A Child Is Born,” Sheryl Crow swings through Otis Redding’s holiday gem, “Merry Christmas, Baby” with the gusto of a Stax diva and Lady Gaga kicks up the electro-club naughty, but nice “Christmas Tree” and Maroon 5– with frontman Adam Levine serenading the verses – offers up an intimate and acoustic take on John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over).” For those that who frequently scurry the Web for the latest work on their favorite artists, they won’t be totally surprised by Maroon 5 and Gaga’s offerings, since they were previously released as digital singles in 2009. Add in the fact that the first disc packs in a heap of country acts than usual (Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Toby Keith, Faith Hill, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill) as if they missed last year’s 14-track and fairly decent NOW…Country Christmas compilation. And then there’s an unforgivable half-baked urban take on McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” by Kelly Rowland. Even with all the good points of Now…Christmas 4, its flaws pretty much outweigh the good.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 12 October 2010
  • Label: Sony BMG
  • Producers: Various
  • Track Favs: Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Merry Christmas, Baby, What Child Is This?, Where Are You Christmas

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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