Kylie Minogue wants you to have a very merry Christmas, indeed. The Australian pop star's first Christmas album, and thirteenth overall, is a warm and fuzzy assortment of discofied holiday classics, plus a few originals. While this might seem like an unlikely showcase for her talents, the production is tight, Minogue's vocals are pristine and even the guest-star moments – which include a posthumous duet with Frank Sinatra and one with the very much still living Iggy Pop – work surprisingly well.
The Kylie experience has become so all-encompassing it's hard to believe that 2015's Kylie Christmas is her first holiday album. She and her team do it right, providing a varied and diverse selection of tracks and moods. Of course, there are plenty of holiday favorites, and old chestnuts like "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow!" are done up Vegas-style with horns, strings, and plenty of schmaltz.
She might be at least 10 years past her commercial peak, but Kylie Minogue remains a magnet of immense goodwill. After all, only a cloth-eared idiot could harbour any hatred for Kylie. It means that a Kylie Christmas album is a more enticing prospect than most festive long-players; it’s the musical equivalent of an entertaining friend enlivening an otherwise dreary Christmas dinner.
Kylie Minogue's first Christmas album is decidedly secular, but it's also surprisingly traditional. Kylie Christmas begins with a rousing choral flourish followed by the opening strains of the Andy Williams chestnut “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” a statement of purpose that sets the tone for an album rife with references to snowmen, mistletoe, and the like, but with nary a mention of knocked-up virgins, sin-absolving babes, or cradles fashioned out of troughs. Holiday pop standards like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Let It Snow” (previously released in 2010) offer further evidence of the chameleonic Minogue's ability to adapt to just about any musical style.
Spare a thought for the music critic this Christmas, for whom the festive period is not “the most wonderful time of the year”, but rather a whole new circle of hell. Even listened to while off your knockers on sherry, Kylie Christmas is a confusing package: the first three songs are orchestral, big-band numbers delivered with all the joie de vivre of a Sainsbury’s advert. Then it gives up entirely on that genre, and fires off random collaboration ideas that border on Monkey Tennis territory: a cover of Christmas Wrapping with Iggy Pop; a version of Yazoo’s Only You with James Corden.