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NKOTB – Merry, Merry Christmas (album review)

I guess I should write this review a few months ago, shouldn’t I? Anyway, in our mapping out the (not so comprehensive) history of boybands (and girlbands), and particularly the history of NKOTB, i. e. New Kids On The Block (for those of you born too late to register them), we’re coming to the now usual staple of modern mainstream music – Christmas album.

“Merry, Merry Christmas” is the only Christmas album from the boys. Hm, why do I actually mention it? I am not sure if there are many artists coming with more than one season album in their career – unless, of course, they perform only Christmas songs.

Anyway, to my surprise (as I have never heard this album), it sounds better than their first two regular albums, which is only positive, and also, because of the nature of the album, it’s kinda full of fun and nice moods.

“This One’s For The Children” starts similarly as a Milli Vanilli’s “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”, and then …I know this melody!!! Yeah, Boyzone’s “Love Me For A Reason” sounds suspiciously similar to this one, but I don’t mind, I am not here to judge! But it’s a nice slow tune, with a “very serious message”. Well, NKOTB were socially conscious although being only that young. OK, their songwriters have probably decided that, but there’s nothing wrong with it and the song is actually pretty nice, reminding me of “We Are the World” in the mood.

“Last Night I Saw Santa Claus” is silly late 80s tune, and I can envision it being played in some drunken office party, when nobody gives a damn what’s playing. But we have to admit, again, it’s pretty catchy, so obviously, I can’t complain.

But now the lights go low, the stars are shining…OK, not really, but it’s a time for slow ballad “I’ll Be Missing You ( Come Christmas)” and Jonathan Knight’s falsetto is really unbelievable. Not that I am a fan of his voice, because I am not, but I remember even guessing, “Is it really a boy singing?” – back in the day. Yes, apparently is. I wonder how many teenage girls got pregnant while this song played in the background during a Christmas season, but that’s a topic for some different article, I think.

And another ballad follows straight after that one, and it’s “I Still Believe In Santa Claus”, with a melody, which in one particular point reminds me of Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For”. Can’t write much of it, it’s mainly Danny Wood and Joey McIntyre here, while other boys joining them in the chorus. A classic ballad you would expect from NKOTB.

I thought they would add some uplifting tune now, but they come up with another ballad of sorts, well, more of a Christmas hymn, so I am not bored. “Merry, Merry Christmas”, as a hymn, is actually pretty nice, especially with the music and chorus adding to the solemn atmosphere of the season. I am so OK with it (although myself I don’t celebrate Christmas), the song is uplifting enough even in a slower tempo and so far I think it’s one of the highlights of this album. But I think Jonathan’s solo in the end was unnecessary.

“The Christmas Song (Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)” would really bore me right now, and I admit I wanted to write something stingy, but then I remember one wouldn’t probably play this album anytime except Christmas, and during the season, when preparing the Christmas tree and stuff associated with it, an album of nice, cozy, slow melodies is actually welcome, not disturbing. And yes, looking/listening to the song with that optics makes it really nice experience, the strings are very nice and remind me of old crooners’ stuff. I think that’s why Danny’s voice, proper low, would be more suitable for the solo here. Well, it isn’t.

Finally, it’s funky time!!! “Funky, Funky Xmas” is NKOTB as you want to hear them. Nice 80s drumbeat, bassline to fall in love with, actually quite minimalistic in approach, but it works so well. And Donnie’s providing rap vocals, although Grandmaster Flash he ain’t. Nor LL Cool J, but I’m cool with it. MC Santa Claus, oh yeah 😀

Next one, a true classic – “White Christmas”. And one thing’s for sure, NKOTB, even 5-piece strong, are no Bing Crosby. Quite a letdown. Nope, don’t like that cover at all.

Before we’re finished, we have “Little Drummer Boy” and I’d repeat myself from the previous song. I know all songs here are covers, but some of those I have remember from their more famous versions and I’m sorry, I am little biased here. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. Nope. Nope. I can endure it, but it’s definitely not the best thing here.

And the last one – “This One’s For The Children (Reprise)”, just a few seconds to remind us of how nice the opening song was.

The end. I was quite afraid it would be a really chore to go through this album, but – with exception of two songs – I quite enjoyed it. I might even play it next Christmas! Wanna visit my home during the festivities?

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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