CD Review By: Melody Charles
Revelry, rivalries, old friends and new beginnings—the film BEST MAN HOLIDAY not only brought back the entire beloved cast of characters (portrayed by Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Sanaa Lathan and Terrence Howard, to name a few) from its popular 1999 prequel, the recent box office hit updated their life trajectories, both good and bad, over the backdrop of a chaotic Christmas season.
With such a high anticipation factor built into the movie, it would’ve been easy for the makers of the soundtrack to have included recycled oldies and just called it a wrap, but like the emotional nuances experienced in BEST MAN HOLIDAY come across just as brilliantly on the soundtrack: merriment and mistletoe can be heard in Jordan Sparks’ twinkling “Christmas Time To Me,” Fantasia’s impish, yet understated “What Christmas Means To Me” and (Uncle) Charlie Wilson’s sweetheart ode, “I Still Have You.” And for the parties and gaiety sure to abound, R. Kelly adds a lively (and thankfully, G-rated) dance floor ditty, “Christmas I’ll Be Steppin’.”
Even the traditional yuletide songs—you know, the ones you’ve heard in every single shopping center and elevator over and over since the beginning of time—get upgrades: Mario’s take on “Someday At Christmas” is earnest and
enthusiastic, “Winter Wonderland” is rendered lushly by newcomer Emeli Sande and Monica’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” both soothes and soars.
What makes the CD a real keeper, however, are the non- holiday tracks that you can play all year long: New Edition’s ballad, “Can You Stand The Rain,” continues to hold up well over 20 years after its chart debut, and John Legend’s “Shelter” is short, sweet and flecked with gospel, a retro-fitting of Bill Wither’s ‘Lean On Me’ message as he tickles the ivories and proclaims himself as a human shield in a relationship against the trials and tribulations of life. Even Stevie Wonder’s 70s classic, “As,” is unfurled and elongated with a melancholy bent, delivered with an aching sweetness and sincerity by Anthony Hamilton and Marsha Ambrosius that will make it an inevitable wedding staple for years and years to come.