Destiny's Child and various artists

Holiday Platters

Phases and Stages

Destiny's Child

8 Days of Christmas (Columbia)

TRL Christmas


A Very Special Christmas 5


A Season of Soul and Sounds


Oh no she didn't. Did Beyoncé just rhyme prayer and underwear? Destiny Child's 8 Days of Christmas sports top-dollar production, but brings about an uneasy cohabitation of cutting-edge beats and sincere seasonal sentiment. The trad tunes are spotlessly sterile, while ProTools postcards like "A DC Christmas Medley" belong in a DJ booth, not a manger. Exactly why Ms. B has taken up with someone who can only afford eight days of gifts requires mental gymnastics, yet the Rockwilder-run-amok title track still out-subtles Willa Ford, who kicks off MTV's TRL Christmas with the clangorous "Santa Baby (Gimme Gimme Gimme)." Oh, but wait, there's also N*Sync in puppy-dog mode on the syrupy "I Don't Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You;" P.O.D. in full honky-hop efizzect on "Rock the Party (RTP Remix);" Blink-182's fun-loving "I Won't Be Home for Christmas;" and Weekend Update co-anchor Jimmy Fallon's moshalicious "Snowball." Beware that creep by the punchbowl who just got an earful of Weezer's off-the-meds "The Christmas Song." Is Jon Bon Jovi crooning "Blue Christmas" more your speed? Who knew Wyclef spent his silent nights freestyling with Stevie Wonder -- and channeling Buster Poindexter? Wonder no longer with A Very Special Christmas 5, this year's hands-down winner in the "they're-still-making-these?" sweepstakes. To be fair, Sheryl Crow does Chuck Berry right on "Run, Rudolph, Run," and yes, that's B.B. King joining John Popper for "Back Door Santa," while Tom Petty reimagines Saint Nick through Willie Dixon's eyes on "Little Red Rooster." Epic's A Season of Soul and Sounds only wants to roast your chestnuts, baby, with a whole phalanx of Keith Sweat soundalikes (plus Macy Gray) standing by to assist in unwrapping that special package. These four albums are really one record: stars and wannabes alike shamelessly furthering their own careers, occasionally embarrassing themselves outright, and often by accident crafting something worthwhile.

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