John Travolta & Olivia Newton John – This Christmas
*½ (out of 4 stars)
The good news: This album’s proceeds go to charity, split between the foundations set up by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. The bad news: I highly doubt that anyone will want to spend any money on This Christmas, a holiday album that comes across as an unimaginative infomercial for the ghost of Christmas past. Why couldn’t they have included the rest of the remaining supporting cast members from the movie? If they had, the weak vocals of the two leads wouldn’t be so painfully obvious. For the most part, Travolta leaves the music that requires correct pitch and any sense of phrasing to Newton John, but not frequently enough.
This cannot be the way most Grease fans imagined the reunion of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsen. Unfortunately, here we are, 35 years after the magic at Rydell High, and the two stars have put out the world’s saddest reunion Christmas album. The album also features guest artists who will also appeal to audiences who may not have purchased an album in 35 years, such as Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Chick Corea, Kenny G and James Taylor. But don’t let that fool you. These guest tracks are so artlessly copied-and-pasted together that it sounds like they were recorded in different keys and placed in a vault until the invention of auto-tuning.
But it’s Christmas, so I’ll admit that it’s not all terrible; John Farrar, the man who wrote one of Grease’s biggest hits (“You’re the One That I Want”) has come up with a sequel — I Think You Might Like It. Grease already has a sequel. It’s called Grease 2, and it was a perfect storm of camp and self-mockery with just enough lack of irony on almost every other level. Still, this one track from This Christmas captures the same sort of 1970s countryish TV-special charm that fits the unique way that the two stars go together. With this one song, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John almost produce an album with a sense of intimacy and warmth reminiscent of the kitschy holiday albums of the 1950s and 60s husband-and-wife duos.
There are worse things they could do.
Essential Downloads: (if, and only if, you are a big Grease fan) “I Think You Might Like It.”
To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.