Now that we’ve had gay teens losing their virginity on “Glee,” the franchise makes a pendulum swing back toward safety with the Perry Como-level musical conservatism of “Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, Volume 2.”
Christmases don’t get whiter – or, more to the point, any more vanilla – than on the show’s second set of pallid holiday covers. By the time the entire cast joins in on “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” the logical response to holiday-ignorant refugees may be a kind of envy.
Damian McGinty, as Rory, sings “Blue Christmas” with such goopy soullessness that it’s like Elvis never happened. Surely, that one’s on purpose. It’s hard to figure the excuse when the cooler kids also sound like they were rejected from an Andy Williams special for being too white-bread.
The most egregious tune, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” has the audacity to exactly copy Bruce Springsteen’s arrangement of the kiddie classic, with Mark Salling, Cory Monteith and Samuel Larsen collectively disinviting comparisons to Bruce and Clarence.
Consummate slickster Lea Michele is ill-equipped to capture the sorrow of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” though there’s passing fun to be had just in imagining what kind of look would cross prickly Mitchell's face if she ever heard it.
Naysayers who complain that “Glee” has gotten too sexual may be relieved to hear that Naya Rivera brings no sensuality whatsoever to the Eartha Kitt chestnut “Santa Baby,” a song that would otherwise almost have to be sexy even if Jackie Evancho performed it.
Heather Morris interprets “Christmas Wrapping” by aping the late Patty Donahue as possible, down to keeping the line that places the song’s narrative in 1981. But if it convinces even one 15-year-old to check out a Waitresses album, no harm, no foul, right?
Two originals interrupt the Christmas copycatting. “Extraordinary Merry Christmas,” sung by Michele and Darren Criss, represents an attempt by producers Adam Anders and Peer Astrom to approximate what it would sound like if Dr. Luke did a Christmas tune, though we’d all be better off waiting for Taio Cruz to catch the holiday spirit.
You might expect more heat out of Matthew Morrison and Jayma Mays on “Christmas Eve With You,” but these teacher types sound as invested in the lines about Santa’s imminent arrival as they do in stock lyrics about keeping each other warm. Compared to this sexless pairing, any version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is practically pornography.
Needless to say, there are no greater sparks generated when the show's gay couple, Blaine (Criss) and Kurt (Chris Colfer), do a romantic duet on "Let It Snow." That may be some kind of mainstream first, but baby, it's chaste inside.
“Gonna party on till Santa grants my wishes,” sing “Blaine” and “Rachel” in “Extraordinary Merry Christmas,” a sentiment that sums up the seriousness with which the producers have approached the solemn task of coming up with a holiday perennial. If you’re a Christmas music aficionado, you will wish you had a river to skate away on.