Various Artists

Now That's What I Call Christmas!, Vol. 2: The Signature Collection

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Marking something of a break from the Now That's What I Call Music! series' focus on the new, Now That's What I Call Christmas! Vol.2: The Signature Collection devotes one disc to contemporary pop versions of Christmas songs and another disc to vocal pop, jazz, and country versions of holiday favorites. Destiny's Child gets the album off to a strong start with the spellbinding a cappella "Opera of the Bells," but Stacie Orrico's "O Come All Ye Faithful," Elton John's "Step into Christmas," and *NSYNC's "I Don't Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You" share the same problem: they don't sound especially Christmassy. This dilemma plagues more of the contemporary holiday songs than it should, although Kylie Minogue's vamp on "Santa Baby" is equally silly, sexy, and festive, and Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" sounds like a modern take on A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. Ballads like Vince Gill's "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and Aaron Neville's "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" also fare well, while Charlotte Church's "Silent Night" and Celine Dion's "O Holy Night" end the album with the same kind of vocal beauty that began it. It's not the most satisfying collection, but it's still hard to fault any Christmas album that bothers to include the Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping." Disc two delivers more of the goods, with tracks like Louis Armstrong's "Winter Wonderland," Burl Ives' "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" providing plenty of vintage cheer. Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and Kenny Rogers also contribute more traditional holiday music. Now That's What I Call Christmas! Vol. 2: The Signature Collection does indeed offer something for everyone, but at the expense of presenting a more focused Christmas collection.

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