This DVD traces the history of the series of holiday benefit albums for the Special Olympics charity that began in 1987 with A Very Special Christmas. The first seven selections are music videos made to accompany tracks that appeared on A Very Special Christmas, A Very Special Christmas 2 (1992), and A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997). In each case, a popular artist has created a video in keeping with the MTV style of the day. The U2 ("Christmas [Baby Please Come Home]") and John Mellencamp ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") clips appear to have been shot at sound checks for the performer's concert appearances. Sting's "Gabriel's Message" is a moody film in black and white, full of images of snow and white gowns and wings, with the artist himself appearing only in shadow until the end. Vanessa Williams turns "What Child Is This" into a jazz number. Jon Bon Jovi cavorts with supermodel Cindy Crawford in "Please Come Home for Christmas." Best of the lot are Run-D.M.C.'s original rap song "Christmas in Hollis," shot with cheap production values in a studio, but highly entertaining, and No Doubt's "Oi to the World," which looks like it was filmed on the streets somewhere in India. The last five performances come from TV specials, Eric Clapton and Tracy Chapman's from a 1998 broadcast (later incorporated into A Very Special Christmas Live: From Washington, D.C. in 1999) and Sheryl Crow, Wyclef Jean, and Stevie Wonder's from one in 2000 (later issued in audio on A Very Special Christmas 5). Crow, singing "Run Rudolph Run," is backed by members of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Wyclef Jean, in a fluffy red coat, somehow segues from "The Little Drummer Boy" to "Hot Hot Hot," and gets an audience including Bill Clinton and family plus assorted Kennedys up and cheering. He also freestyles during Stevie Wonder's "Merry Christmas Baby." The series A Very Special Christmas is notable for including artists who might not be expected to do Christmas songs normally and who render those songs in their own styles. These videos have a similar appeal, and they also serve as a time capsule for the era from the late '80s to the start of the 2000s.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann