'ONE WISH - THE HOLIDAY ALBUM' REVIEWS
Ridder/Tribune News Service Review
BET.com Fall Music Preview
Slant Magazine Review
Here Boston Review
New York Daily
Music Week Review
Akron Beacon Journal
All Music Guide Review
Austin City Journal
Colorado Springs Gazette Review
Tower Records & Best Buy Review
San Jose Mercury News Review
New York Times Review
Boston Ledger Review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Halifax Daily News
The Guardian Review
Newark Star Ledger
Knight Ridder: 'One Wish -
The Holiday Album' Review
Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service via COMTEX
Date: November 3, 2003
By Jonathan Takiff Knight Ridder Newspapers
There are plenty of reasons to start your holiday shopping in music stores
this month, as new albums, music DVDs and box sets galore drop from Jay-Z,
Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Coldplay, Johnny Cash, Tenacious D
and the ever-popular "many-many more."
...Holiday Sweets: Getting back to her musical roots, Whitney Houston sounds
extremely comfortable doing up Christmas classics on "One Wish" (Arista).
Tastefully modernized in contemporary gospel fashion are "The First Noel,"
"I'll Be Home For Christmas" and a surprising (but it works) uptempo version
of "O Holy Night." Daughter Bobbi Kristina makes her vocal debut on "Little
Drummer Boy." B+
November Fall Music Preview:
By Mike Street, BET.com Staff Writer
Who: Whitney Houston
What: One Wish - The Holiday Album
When: November 18, 2003
Where: Arista Records
Is It Gangster?
Recently named America's favorite bad girl by Access Hollywood, Whitney will
clean up her act for her first ever Christmas album. Whitney promises to
spice up the holidays with soulful remakes of Christmas classics. The album
will feature songs such as "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", "Joy To
The World", and hte title track "One Wish". Joining Whitney on this album is
her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown on the timeless classic "Little Drummer
Boy". Expect Whitney to be less talk and all singing on this project.
Was It Drama?
No Bobby Brown on this album means no drama. Whitney is going to keep it
nice and clean. With all the bad press still surrounding Whitney, a family
album is exactly what she needs to start repairing her image. Follow the
album up with a nice video with lots of falling snow, Whitney with her
family, and this could be the road to a full comeback for this fallen diva.
One Wish: The Holiday Album
3 out of 5 stars
After almost two decades in the business, Whitney Houston is just now
releasing a Christmas album. It’s a career benchmark for almost every
vocalist of Houston’s caliber, but one can’t help but think that One Wish:
The Holiday Album is nothing more than damage control. The singer hasn’t had
a bona fide hit since 1999 and public declarations like “Crack is cheap” and
“I make too much for me to ever smoke crack” failed to spark interest in her
comeback album Just Whitney. Politics (if that’s what you can call it)
aside, Houston’s voice just isn’t what it used to be--she warbles her way
through an otherwise understated version of the contemporary classic “I’ll
Be Home For Christmas” and sings “Tiny little tots with their eyes all
aglow/Will find it hard to sleep tonight” on Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas
Song” like she wants to eat them (cue MADtv’s Debra Wilson impersonation).
Just compare these performances to the crystalline voice on the album’s
final two tracks, “Who Would Imagine A King” and the gospel-infused “Joy To
The World,” which were taken from the soundtrack to 1996’s The Preacher’s
Wife. That said, it’s pretty damn hard to make a bad Christmas album (unless
you’re Toni Braxton), and the spirit of the season is effectively captured
on Mervyn Warren’s inspired arrangements of traditional tunes like “O Come O
Come Emanuel” and “Cantique De Noel (O Holy Night),” one of the greatest
Christmas songs ever written (and sung by one of our greatest
vocalists--even if she’s no longer at the top of her game).
Whitney Houston/One Wish – The Holiday Album
by Jeremy Sugar
Street Date: November 18, 2003
No one knew what to expect when it was announced that Whitney Houston
was in the studio recording a Christmas album. Fans held their breath while
critics sharpened their claws. One thing is certain, when it comes to
Whitney, its either a brilliant success or a monstrous disaster. Those of us
who knew about the upcoming album were eager to see which it would be.
There is a formula to Christmas albums, whether deliberate or not – one good
up-tempo song, one good ballad, a few boring classics, and a few new spins
on old classics that just don’t work. Even Mariah and Celine stuck to the
tried-and-true formula. It’s not surprising that Whitney didn’t stick to the
formula. She and producer Mervyn Warren threw a little of everything into
the mix: pop, R&B, gospel and even a little jazz.
Does it work? You better believe it does. Each track is unique and very
well-done. Whitney sings her heart out and the music and production are top
notch. They really made ‘One Wish – The Holiday Album’ a must-have for those
of us who like Christmas music.
Whitney’s rendition of ‘The Christmas Song’ is perfect. It’s hard to
pinpoint what Whitney does different than the thousands of other artists who
have previously recorded this song, but Ms. Houston clearly bests them. ‘The
Little Drummer Boy’ features her daughter Bobbi Kristina. Junior sings a
sweet little intro, but Whitney takes it from there and really adds
something special to a usually predictable song. The title track is a sweet
ballad with a 23 piece orchestra. A real gem on this album is ‘Deck The
Halls/Silent Night’. You could never have imagined this interpretation. ‘O
Holy Night’ is the traditional Christmas ballad and Whitney makes good on
this one, from the slow haunting beginning to the bombastic ending. But the
song that really proves that Whitney hasn’t lost a thing is ‘O Come O Come
Emmanuel’. Singing crystal clear at the top of her lungs over an all male
choir and subtle finger snapping, Whitney really takes this one home.
Also on the album is ‘The First Noel’, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, and
‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ along with two previously recorded
Christmas tunes – ‘Who Would Imagine A King’ and ‘Joy To The World.’ All
For those fans who wished for a Whitney
Christmas album to show the other divas how it’s done - wish granted!
T M HXone Review
Despite the recent trials and tribulations this diva has suffered through,
Whitney Houston has recorded the first Christmas album in her twenty year
career. With the title track being the single original song, Houston relys
on her interpretation to make these songs hers, a la "I Will Always Love
You." The medley "Deck The Halls/Silent Night" shows how Houston uses her
interpretation nowadays and not the notes to pull a song off, unlike some of
her peers. The way she sings "falala" is haunting, yet catchy at the same
time. Houston seems at home and relaxed on the collection, especially on
"The Little Drummer Boy" where Houston's other Bobbi opens the song with
Houston excaliming in the background, "that's my baby!" The only strain that
seems to stand out on One Wish is in the title song itself. At the end of
the bridge, Houston goes for a falsetto note it seems, but comes up flat. If
I had one wish for Christmas, it would be for Miss Houston to regain her
- Dave (T M H)
28 November 2003
Holiday music 2003 - David Hinckley rates this
year's Christmas CDs
There's plenty of fa-la-la to be found at the record store this holiday
With "One Wish" (Arista), Whitney Houston reminds us why we liked her so
much in the first place: her voice, for which holiday songs are a splendid
vehicle. There's some elaborate production behind songs like "Joy to the
World" and "O Come, O Come Emanuel," but also a stocking-full of lovely
singing. "O Holy Night," or the opening of "I'll Be Home for Christmas,"
clinches the deal.
One Wish - The Holiday Album
Spotlight On ... Holiday CDs
By Chuck Arnold
ONE WISH--THE HOLIDAY ALBUM Whitney Houston Houston brings a decided
spirituality and gospel fervor to her first Christmas collection. In strong
voice throughout, the diva takes it back to church, where she began singing,
on such carols as "The First Noel" and "Joy to the World" (one of two songs
that originally appeared on 1996's The Preacher's Wife soundtrack). The
soulful set, however, may be best remembered for the singing debut of
Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina, 10, who, on the duet "The Little Drummer
Boy," shows that she could follow in the footsteps of her mother, father
Bobby Brown and grandmother Cissy Houston.
Whitney Houston, "One Wish: The Holiday Album" (Arista)
Whitney Houston has had her share of problems in recent years, but her voice
is still in fine shape, and it dazzles on "One Wish: The Holiday Album."
Houston sounds like the star of a gospel choir as she soulfully reinterprets
holiday classics such as "The First Noel" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little
Christmas." In many ways, this album echoes the gospel-inflected soundtrack,
"The Preacher's Wife," she did a few years ago - in fact, two songs from
that album, the lovely "Who Would Imagine a King" and a buoyant "Joy to the
World," are also here.
Her voice - though at times a bit raspy - captivates on every track, whether
it's soaring to a crescendo or she's singing with the tenderness of a
mother's love (her duet with daughter Bobby Kristina on "Little Drummer Boy"
is a special highlight).
Although "One Wish" is a Christmas album, chances are you'll want to keep
this one around after the holidays are done.
-Nekesa Mumbi Moody, AP Music Writer
One Wish: The Holiday Album
Whitney does the classics, and just like her TV appearances, you get the
feeling the lady is miles away from her subject matter. Alongside goofy
David Foster-style production, Whitney decks the halls with her vocal
histrionics, making for a not to subtle Christmas power-dazzle.
- Kerry Gold
Whitney Houston 'One Wish - The Holiday Album'
Arista/BMG 82876 567822
With her chocolate vocals and delicate
take on classic Christmas songs such as Have Yourself A Merry Little
Christmas, this worthy addition to the Whitney catalogue is a surefire
festive seller this year.
Houston: "One Wish"
Whitney Houston's new Christmas record saves the best for last,
concluding with a gigantic rendition of "Joy to the World" featuring the
mighty Georgia Mass Choir. Beyond that, it's uneven. Her oddly arranged
"Deck the Halls/Silent Night" sounds cheaply made -- not an effect Houston
is known for -- but the record gets some mileage from "Little Drummer Boy,"
on which Houston and daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown pa-rum-pa-pum-pum over a
skittering programmed beat. Though many of the tunes are familiar, credit
Houston for this: She went beyond the obvious standards and chose at least
two songs ("One Wish" and "Who Would Imagine a King") that most listeners
probably don't already know by heart. That's refreshing.
-- Nick Marino
Akron Beacon Journal
30 November 2003
ONE WISH: THE HOLIDAY ALBUM
Fresh off the less-than-stellar sales of her last album of new material,
singer Whitney Houston returns with a Christmas collection. On Just Whitney,
Houston often sounded distracted and winded and seemed to avoid the high
notes. On One Wish her voice sounds healthier, though she still seems to be
piling on the melisma and elongated vocal runs.
The arrangements are mellow synthetic R&B grooves perfect for The Quiet
Storm. Highlights include an a cappella O Come O Come Emanuel with producer
Mervyn Warren providing layered backing harmonies like a one-man Take 6.
Padding out the disc's 11 tracks are Who Would Imagine a King and Joy to the
World from The Preacher's Wife soundtrack. Besides being previously
available, the inclusion of these tracks, particularly the tastefully
orchestrated ballad whose melody Houston caresses lovingly, also demonstrate
the slow deterioration of Houston's voice.
Appropriate for: Party at the hair and nail salon.
All Music Guide
Whitney Houston - One Wish: The Holiday Album
Whitney Houston delivered One Wish: The Holiday Album, her first Christmas
record, a year after her 2002 comeback Just Whitney. If it seemed like that
record played it safe, that's nothing compared to One Wish, which is the
straightest adult contemporary record Houston has released in years. Of
course, holiday records are the last place anybody would want to take a
risk, since they're designed to be nice, pleasant mood music and, apart from
a rather horrid version of "Little Drummer Boy" — which features her
daughter Bobbie Kristina Brown on vocals, but that's not what sinks it: it's
Whitney's bewildering scat on "rump-pum-pum" that ruins the cut — this suits
the bill nicely. The clean, pristine production, heavy on synths, sounds as
if it was cut in the late '80s, yet it's also strangely spare, often being
no more than a synth and a drum machine. Still, it's a sound that's
well-suited for Whitney and her thoroughly predictable set of material (the
title track is the only new song, then the final two songs are recycled from
the soundtrack of The Preacher's Wife). Ulitmately, One Wish is the kind of
album that may only appeal to a fan of Whitney who has already yearned for
her holiday album, but for those fans, it will be satisfactory. — Stephen
Austin City Journal
Whitney's One Wish
I'm sure that Whitney Houston's One Wish with this new collection of
Christmas songs is that the public would see past all the drama surrounding
her personal life and focus on her music. Unfortunately this collection
doesn't cut it. A decent effort but far from the classic it was meant to be.
Whitney's often quirky ad-libbing technique is distracting. Her vocals, once
considered among the very best, are adequate and average for someone of
Whitney's stature. Sounding strained at times and unusually raspy
throughout. I can only wonder why the considerable change. Sadly, One Wish
pales in comparison to the classic Christmas releases of her contempories
Celine and Mariah. My grade. C
Colorado Springs Gazette
When it comes to a gospel flavored holiday album a new release by Whitney
Houston fits the bill to a certain degree. Miss Houston, obviously in her
element, reaches for the heavens with such classics as Oh Holy Night, The
Little Drummer Boy, and the exceptional O Come O Come Emmanuel. Her now deep
and throaty voice add a distinctly different sound that is pleasing at
times. This budget package (two recylced tracks) is a nice enough addition
to your holiday collection. However, I would say Yoland Adams Christmas is a
must. Simply superb. This is more in line musically and vocally with what
was expected from a Whitney Houston album.
Records & Best Buy
Whitney Houston's soulful, elastic voice was practically made to wrap
around Christmas standards, but despite the naturalness of the match, ONE
WISH, out for Christmas 2003, as the singer neared her third decade of
performing, marks her first holiday album. What lies within shouldn't
disappoint as she covers many familiar tunes with just a sprinkle of recent
music, the sweet-as-sugar title track originally by Freddie Jackson.
While Houston's been through her share of publicized drama over the years,
her voice betrays no hint of the strife on ONE WISH. She begins in the vein
of a female Nat "King" Cole, smoothly crooning "The First Noel" and "The
Christmas Song" in a manner shifting between agreeable acrobatics and
welcome subtlety. Her daughter Bobby Kristina Brown joins in to provide
rum-pa-pa-pum backup on a cute version of "The Little Drummer Boy." The best
moments sneak up on the listener when Houston gets lost in the classics,
delivering unabashedly sentimental and lovable songs perfectly suited for
her style, as with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry
Little Christmas." ONE WISH fulfills the promise laden in a long-awaited
Christmas record from a larger-than-life performer.
San Jose Mercury News
Some could-be-chestnuts in this season's CDs
By Marian Liu and Mark Whittington
Whitney Houston, "One Wish: The Holiday Album,"
Arista: She still has it. Plagued with drug problems, the diva may not have
shown the full capacity of her voice on 2002's "Just Whitney," but her
classic pipes have their full force on this disc.
WHITNEY HOUSTON: "One Wish" (Arista).
Momentarily freed from the pressure to choose the right pop pose, Whitney
Houston can simply bestow her vocal gifts on the familiar songs (plus two
inoffensive new ones) that fill her Christmas album. The lavish swoops, the
sultry whispers, the gospelly asides and the meteoric crescendos are all
applied to songs that are usually arranged with the burnished keyboards and
subdued percussion of current R&B. The ballads are impressive, though they
can verge on soupy; turning ecumenical, she adds Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to Mel
Tormé's "Christmas Song." A medley of "Deck the Halls" and "Silent Night"
shows a frisky side, and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is the tour de force: Ms.
Houston sailing above an unaccompanied male choir, harmonizing like Take 6,
that's actually the multitracked voice of her producer, Mervyn Warren. It's
enough to make a listener forgive Ms. Houston for pushing her daughter
forward on "Little Drummer Boy."
"One Wish -- The Holiday Album" (Arista)
By Bill Dean
Believing in Santa Claus makes it hard to believe this is Houston's first
Believe it: On seasonal chestnuts such as "The First Noel," "The Christmas
Song," Houston sounds like the songbird of Christmases past, as in strong,
vibrant and winning.
Put this platter on for a breezy, mistletoe-like effect on your party.
- Cleveland, Ohio
"One Wish: The Holiday Album"
Those angels we have heard on high will be evergreen with envy when they get
a load of the R&B diva's updates of "The First Noel," "Little Drummer Boy"
(featuring a cameo by Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina), "Joy to the
World" and other carols, offset with a timely new tune, "One Wish (For
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
1 December 2003
By Dave Tianen
Whitney Houston, "One Wish: The Holiday Album"
Given the frequent speculation about her health and personal problems, it's
good to report that Houston sounds fine in this new Christmas set. Although
she's guilty of excessive showboating on "The First Noel" and "I'll Be Home
for Christmas," this is a better-than-average R&B holiday outing.
There's an interesting, contemporary twist on "Deck the Halls" and an
appropriately jubilant, raise-the-roof collaboration with the Georgia Mass
Choir on "Joy to the World."
The Halifax Daily
News (Nova Scotia)
4 December 2003
Whitney Houston: One Wish, The Holiday Album (Arista)
Sure, the production is slicker than the Waverley Road in the freezing rain.
But this new disc is loaded with yuletide classics, and Houston's voice is
in top shape. Warm and fuzzy, perfect for roastin' by an open fire.
5 December 2003
In the "Why Bother" category are
popstars Ashanti and Whitney Houston.
Hip hop's latest sexpot fills her disc, which includes about a dozen baby
photos, with predicable tracks like Joy to the World and Silent Night.
Likewise Houston hits us with The First Noel and Deck the Halls.
While both can carry the tunes, they don't really offer anything
inspirational and the CDs won't likely become soundtracks to your family's
5 December 2003
Whitney Houston, "One Wish -- The
Holiday Album" (Arista). Houston's first holiday album feels like a
contractual obligation-slash-holding action. Her versions of standards are
decidedly mainstream, more pop than R&B, with surprisingly dated
arrangements (two songs come from her 1996 soundtrack for "The Preacher's
Wife"). Houston seldom invests herself emotionally, only occasionally giving
in to melismatic flurries that showcase her still-considerable vocal skills.
The title track, the album's only original song, is not particularly
memorable; neither is this album.
Friday December 5, 2003
Whitney Houston, One Wish: The
Also reviewed: Ashanti, Ashanti's Christmas
Soul princesses and Christmas albums go
together, for some reason, like P Diddy and mink gaiters, and here two
generations stick their tinselly oar in. For Houston, especially, it's a
chance to prove that she's still up to it. Straightforward renditions of 11
festive baubles - how hard can it be? And that's the problem: stuff like
this is so piddling for her that she seems to have zoned out halfway
through. Why put any elbow grease into the "project" when all she need do is
set her larynx to "reverent," then doze off? Saying that, she gives Have
Yourself a Merry Little Christmas some a cappella welly, and the cocktail
doo-wop of O Come, O Come, Emanuel is quite irresistible. Still, this is the
Voice at its numbest.
Ja Rule's frothy duet partner, Ashanti, exhibits more zip. Her pure tones
complement a very contemporary minxy streak that's dying to unwrap all those
exciting presents. Hey Santa is the stand-out: a list of demands ("How about
a diamond bracelet, a baby-blue convertible...") delivered with the charm
that typifies the rest of the album.
Newark Star Ledger
9 December 2003
"One Wish -- The Holiday Album," Whitney Houston (Arista)
Houston's career is in limbo: Her 2002 album "Just Whitney" bombed, and
she has made virtually no public appearances since admitting to drug use in
a television interview a year ago. This album won't catapult her back to the
front of the pop-diva pack, but it's a decent start, with performances of
holiday classics and one new song (the title track) that will remind
listeners of her voice's enormous power. Highlights include an "I'll Be Home
For Christmas" that's full of steely determination rather than the yearning
most singers convey, and a medley that pairs a jaunty "Deck the Halls" with
"Silent Night." The biggest misstep is a bombastic "Cantique De Noel (O Holy
Night)." "Who Would Imagine a King" and a fervent gospel take on "Joy to the
World" (featuring the Georgia Mass Choir) are recycled from the soundtrack
to Houston's 1996 movie, "The Preacher's Wife."
-- Jay Lustig
Whitney’s best wish for Christmas
WHITNEY HOUSTON (One Wish – the holiday album)
Whitney Houston was huge. She was the first with seven consecutive No. 1
singles, and her 1993 Dolly Parton cover I Will Always Love You was the
biggest hit single in rock history.
Coming from a gospel/soul background, she could do it all from show-stopping
ballads to dancefloor numbers. Her gorgeous tone and complex vocal
improvisations set new standards which all aspiring divas had to follow.
But in recent years, she has undergone marital problems with hubby Bobby
Brown, accused of taking drugs, and generally regarded as unreliable in
keeping her obligations, with several cancelled shows.
Her studio album in 1998 was critically acclaimed but didn’t sell well by
her standards, as she experimented with different musical approaches.
But for this album, she is on comfortable territory.
It’s the first Christmas album of her career, and given songs with great
melodies and lyrics she goes to work with great enthusiasm.
The First Noel and the Christmas Song have slinky R&B grooves. Whitney shows
her tone is as gorgeous as ever.
It’s not exactly a singalong though, as she swoops, scats, in occasional
virtuosic displays of vocal gymnastics.
Her little daughter Bobbi Kristina starts off Little Drummer Boy, showing a
nice sweet voice. The song develops into a funky joyous arrangement with
lots of harmony vocals filling out the song.
The title track is a waltz time ballad which she works over in her
One of the highlights of the album is her reverent reading of O Holy Night,
which showcases her vast range of vocal colours, from whispers to big brassy
Deck the Halls/Silent Night, has a fingersnapping hiphop beat that adds to
the celebratory air of the song.
O Come O Come Emanuel is sung practically a capella and handles her voice
like a saxophone, swooping all over the scale.
Joy To The World is an exuberant workout with a lively arrangement, and a
gospel choir filling out the sound wonderfully.
If you like your yuletide favourites from the traditional and contemporary
songbooks with sleek contemporary lite-soul arrangements, it doesn’t get any
better than this.