- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- The First Noel
- On a Snowy Christmas Night
- Winter Wonderland
- The Wonderful World of Christmas
- It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You)
- I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day
- If I Get Home On Christmas Day
- Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees
- Merry Christmas Baby
- Silver Bells
- If Every Day Was Like Christmas (Christmas Bonus)
Elvis sings The Wonderful World of Christmas is Elvis’ 15th studio album, second Christmas album, and his third album released in the year 1971. While this album was not quite as popular as his previous Christmas album, Elvis’ Christmas Album, it still performed very well, topping the Billboard Holiday Albums chart and eventually going 3 times platinum. The only reason it did not chart on the Billboard 200 is because during the years 1963-1973, holiday albums were prohibited from charting.
Elvis’ second Christmas album is in fact a mixed bag containing quite a few gems, some duds, and a few that are just ok. Overall, managed to get me into the spirit of the season (I am writing this on December 16th) and that makes for a solid holiday album in my book. The quality of the album can be determined by bookends, with both beginning and ending being solid, in some cases even spectacular, offerings, and the middle ranging from meh to a song that would never work on its own. However, they weren’t standalone songs, and were part of a collection that made me feel cozy, nostalgic, and ready to embrace the Christmas season.
*notes the songs especially recommended
- O Come, All Ye Faithful*
Very serene and yes, faithful, to the version that can be heard in many churches this time of year. What I love about this take is that it’s not perfect, in fact it’s a little clunky, but going with the authentic church vibe, it works. It puts you in a pew, singing along with other reluctant singers who just can’t help singing along to a Christmas carol that have heard all their lives. The second half is where it picks up, even getting a beat, albeit a tame one, behind it, with a phenomenal backing choir.
2. The First Noel*
At first listen, I thought Elvis was maybe being too dramatic on vocals, however, the light touches of the instruments provide a nice counter effect to that. With the lovely soprano choir, this is a really solid version of this Christmas standard.
3. On a Snowy Christmas Night*
This song made me smile. As cheesy as that might sound, it perfectly evokes a peaceful feeling that we all long for around this time of year. It actually put me by the fireside on Christmas night, surrounded by family and loved ones after a wonderful day. My favorite line of the song: “mother nature wears a bridal gown, for the world is dressed in white”. Beautiful.
4. Winter Wonderland*
A fun, honky tonk take on this classic song of the season and I am not mad about it. The understated music lends itself to the holiday square-dance feel, and goes perfectly with Elvis’ vocals, and a counterpoint guitar playing throughout in a way that is almost duetting with Elvis. Just a good yeehaw Christmas tune.
5. The Wonderful World of Christmas
The title track of the album which maybe Elvis is trying to emphasize a bit too much. The song has a very beautiful sentiment, but the way it was presented here just didn’t connect with me.
6. It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You)
Yet another song where I feel Elvis is affecting his vocals too much and using way too much vibrato. He almost sounds like a parody of himself on this one.
7. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day
Some soulful bass to start which deceived me into thinking this song would be better than the previous two. The nice musical buildup does frame Elvis’ voice well, and he sounds a little like Willie Nelson on this track. However, the song itself is blustering and doesn’t really go anywhere.
8. If I Get Home On Christmas Day
The second of the two “Home” songs, this tune is a lot better than the previous, but this time, it’s Elvis’ vocals that are slacking-a-lacking. They do start out nice at the beginning, and, despite the reoccurring vocal issues, it is a perfectly pleasant song to listen to. It also gets extra points for the euphoric choral moment at the end, which lends this song a needed sprinkling of magic.
9. Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees*
This reflective, quiet number needs a deeper, softer vocal….which Elvis delivers stunningly. A contemplation of what Christmas used to be when you were a kid, this song is nostalgic, bittersweet, and so very relatable.
10. Merry Christmas Baby*
Sultry warning for this is about 100/10 and I for one was not prepared! This song is oozing with that raw, sensual blues that Elvis does so well. He’s even got all the instruments acting up. The bass is playing hide and seek. The guitar is teasing folks relentlessly. The piano is being flirty and fabulous. This is a rousing, raunchy Christmas romp and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
11. Silver Bells*
Reeling the flirtatiousness back in, we come to a beloved version of a Christmas classic. I have so much affection for his cover of “Silver Bells”. The perfect orchestration, Elvis’ tender vocals, even his iffy vibrato lends the song a certain nuance. A forever favorite.
12. If Every Day Was Like Christmas**(Christmas Bonus!)
This song was not on the original album release, but it was on Spotify’s version of the album, and after I heard it, I just had to include it here. The song is contemplative and wistful and the perfect ending song for this album. Elvis’ gentle and sweet singing expresses a feeling I believe many of us are familiar with. After all, why can’t the holiday magic last all year round?
While this album review will be posted after Christmas, it will be posted on December 28, in that special in between period when the festivities are ongoing and holiday spirit still lingers in the air. However you celebrate, I extend to you a hearty season’s greetings. I wish everyone a 2021 that is happy, healthy, and yes, maybe even a little magical.