Decades after the start of their career, the Goo Goo Dolls have added a first to their extensive discography — a holiday album. Widely known in the ’90s for hit songs such as “Iris” and “Slide,” the highly regarded alternative rock band has managed to maintain their relevance, with studio albums such as Miracle Pill and Boxes each emphasizing their ability to create catchy, authentic tunes.
Their latest album, It’s Christmas All Over, shines a new light on the band, one that exudes Christmas cheer. As its title suggests, the Goo Goo Dolls manage to encapsulate the holiday spirit in a collection of 10 tracks. Capitalizing off of older holiday hits, the album admittedly lacks some originality, but its warmth and cheer are enough to make it a part of listeners’ homes this Christmas.
Beginning with a cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ classic “Christmas All Over Again,” the Goo Goo Dolls set the tone for a record full of vibrant Christmas cheer, bridging an alternative sound with Petty’s peppy lyrics. Though it doesn’t vary much from the original song, it serves as a solid cover; it’s full, vibrant orchestration is enough to fuel the feel-good vibe of the album.
But the covers don’t stop there, the majority of It’s Christmas All Over consists of Christmas oldies, each packed with a jazzy punch. These tracks rarely deviate from the original recordings — one of the album’s primary faults given the Goo Goo Dolls’ impressive repertoire. Each cover is satisfactory, but ultimately lacks the depth and originality of a standout holiday album. Instead, it relies on replicating the great singles we’ve listened to year after year in the months leading up to the holidays.
For a band that has succeeded with their original music for decades, this comes as a bit of a disappointment. Yet, though these tracks have been sung time and time again, there is a certain quaintness about the simple and sentimental production of the album. Classic Christmas hits such as “Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” exude warmth and nostalgia, creating a cozy atmosphere that embraces the festivity of the season. It is the perfect soundtrack for a night cuddled up by the fire, listening to embers crackle as the band’s lead singer, John Rzeznik, calmly assures listeners of the magic of this time of year.
These songs add a layer of comfortability, one that is undeniably compelling given the stress of the pandemic. Rzeznik has echoed that the inspiration for the album came from the travesty of the year; the band strived to create an album that would reverberate positivity. And, this is something It’s Christmas All Over certainly accomplishes. The few original tracks on the album, though sometimes quite cheesy, provide new meaning in the context of rather dark times. Most notably, songs such as “This Is Christmas” highlight the hope of the holidays and reconnecting with loved ones. With lyrics such as “It gets harder each year/ To believe in what’s real, I need Christmas,” the Goo Goo Dolls point to Christmas as a source of inspiration for strength. As sappy as it sounds, it certainly provides some level of comfort especially in light of the isolation many have faced this year.
The final track ties up the album perfectly, capturing its essence only with instrumentation. Featuring the Union Square 5, “The Christmas Party” brings a classic jazz sound that drums up an eagerness for the start of the season. The song perfectly encompasses the heartwarming aspects of the holidays, as background cheers faintly chime in over a flood of gorgeous notes.
And during this holiday season, It’s Christmas All Over may hopefully provide a gleam of warmth and enthusiasm. Though it may rely on cozy classics to get its point across, it is sure to put listeners in the holiday spirit and serve as the perfect background music for a moment of hopeful recollection during the whirlwind of Christmastime.