Christmas Music, 1999
Usually I’ll buy a traditional Christmas album this time of the year. In fact I’ve been thinking of getting Charlotte Church, but This Christmas finds its way into my CD bag after a last-moment shopping spree at Tower Records. And do I regret it?
No way. I’m not going to feel embarrassed to admit I adore 98° anymore. This album shows that the boys can sure strut great stuff alongside their booties. Indeed, there’s something in Nick Lachey’s voice that reminds me of thick, smooth, hot chocolate. Jeff Timmons has a voice that reminds me of a singing cherub, and what do you know, Justin Jaffre has a really sexy bass voice. What I wouldn’t give to have these boys caroling at my door.
It’s not the throwaway pop songs like This Gift and Christmas Wish that make me salute them. No, it’s the beautiful way the boys blend melancholy with celebration of Christmas. In I’ll Be Home for Christmas, when they sing I’ll be home for Christmas even if it’s only in my dreams, it hurts, it really does. And God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, there is an acute pain behind every note. It is not hard to sigh – there is an underlying layer of darkness that screams of loneliness, homesickness, and a yearning to be loved and be surrounded by loved ones. Even more glorious is their almost perfect, four-harmony acapella rendition of Ave Maria, beautiful really.
And on Oh Holy Night and Little Drummer Boy, they sound uncannily like the King’s Singers. In the former (my favorite), I am amazed at the way Mr Jaffre’s easy tenor glides over Nick Lachey’s second tenor, and Drew Lachey’s alto and Mr Jaffre’s bass only provide great anchor to the whole melancholic yet rejoicing theme. And bass singers are never sexier-sounding on Little Drummer Boy. And the nicest icing on the cake is Jeff Timmon’s gentle rendition of Silent Night.
Take a bow, boys. You deserve that after this magical hour of out-of-this-world music you’ve given me.