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Despite its laboriously punning title, A Mary Christmas turns out to play the seasonal-album shtick with the straightest of faces. Mary J Blige delivers a self-consciously classy vocal performance, reining in the R&B theatrics so completely that even Jessie J’s appearance, on a duet of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, is prevented from becoming the anticipated riot of melismata.

But the seriousness carries a price – namely dullness, as gushy orchestrations burble away in the background and no hip-hop beats are allowed to enliven proceedings. The suffocating atmosphere culminates in a ghastly pop-classical “Noche de Paz”, sung with salsa star Marc Anthony. A Mary Christmas mislays the merriness.

Mary J Blige

A Mary Christmas


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