The ironic jokes are endless. Idina Menzel hit the big time late 2013 by voicing Elsa in the Disney blockbuster Frozen. The song “Let It Go” became a pop culture phenomenon, and since the cold never bothered her anyway (you gotta allow me one), Idina has now recorded a Christmas album called Holiday Wishes. It’s an insanely smart marketing move. Idina hasn’t suddenly become a pop star outside of “Let It Go”, but recording an album of traditional holiday music could prove to be a blockbuster this holiday season.
The “Queen” doesn’t mess around with the album. She’s recruited producer Walter Afanasieff, who produced Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, for the album. They cover Mariah’s big hit as more of a big band song, and it works. It’s one of the few tracks that thinks outside the box. Idina superbly sings “Do You Hear What I Hear”, “The Christmas Song”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and several other standards. While there is absolutely nothing new musically to the recordings, Idina’s voice manages to bring a unique twist to the cliched proceedings. I’m the first person to dismiss new Christmas music if it just sounds like the typical production with a new voice subbed it, but there’s something appealing about Idina singing the standards. Maybe subconsciously I’m just excited to hear excited to hear Elsa singing more ballads.
Mr. Christmas, Michael Buble, duets on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (cha-ching!), and they have a nice, if business-like, chemistry on the track. Artists rarely make “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” anything special, but Idina makes it one of the best moments on the album. The “almost” original song, “December Prayer” (you’ve probably never heard it before), sounds like a ballad Idina should be belting out on Broadway. And yes, Idina and Disney come together again for her cover of “When You Wish Upon A Star”! Sure, it’s not a Christmas song, but she’s giving everybody what they want (another Disney song), so just accept it!
Her versions of “Silent Night” and “River” have no impact at all, and “Holly Jolly Christmas” would make Burl Ives cringe, but just let it go, there’s enough here to entertain you.
So in conclusion, yes parents, if your kids are still obsessed with “Let It Go”, this is a worthy alternative to play for your kids for the next 6 weeks, by just saying “Elsa has more songs!”.