Friday our HOLLYWOOD ISSUE comes out, so in anticipation of it, and to keep things season, here’s a rundown of Christmas music features the good (Cee Lo!), the godawful (Travolta!) and the just plain weird (Tracey Thorn).
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, This Christmas. Friends since summer lovin’ brought them together more than 30 years ago, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta are, still, hopelessly devoted to each other. They’re as chummy together in the liner pics of their charity Christmas album, where they even share an oversized coffee mug, as they are on these creepy renditions of classics. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is the worst offender; on the traditional-sounding track, they’re dropping each other’s names — he calls her “Liv” (barf) — and making that banter cornier than that “Sir, I Wanna Buy These Shoes For My Dyin’ Mama” song. Travolta’s “oh gosh, I really do have to go” line sounds less like a farewell and more like he’s ready to drop some poops.
It’s hard to even take them serious on “Silent Night,” which isn’t half bad; Olivia’s voice is still pretty and pleasant, and even Travolta doesn’t sound like he’s still wearing Edna Turnblad’s Hairspray muumuu. But a children’s choir — of course! “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” featuring Kenny G for max cheesiness — has Travolta in Elvis mode. The booze really takes over when they get to “I Think You Might Like It,” a rollicking soft-rocker that’s being billed as the sequel to “You’re the One That I Want” from their Grease days. For better or worse, at least it sounds like a Danny and Sandy song. Will you like it? They think so. The album’s an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party full of nostalgia and awesomely bad moments, but it’s hard to tell if they’re in on the joke. They bring in some pretty serious talent: Tony Bennett, James Taylor and Barbra Streisand. Let’s hope Babs has a healthy sense of humor.