If you are a multi-million selling rock band with a bunch of hit singles and have played around the world for over thirty years, what do you do next? That’s certainly a question New York rockers Goo Goo Dolls must have been asking themselves at times this year. And the answer? Bring out a Christmas album, of course.
To be fair to front man Johnny Rzeznik and co, 2020 has been a horrible year for a lot of people in general so Goo Goo Dolls bringing out a Christmas album could help spread some cheer to those struggling with this year’s difficulties. It’s Christmas All Over certainly has its share of feel-good songs and moments, including a couple of the band’s own original numbers, which are a nice touch and prove that this release isn’t just a completely lazy exercise in bringing out a holiday-themed album to make a quick buck.
That being said, It’s Christmas All Over does feel a little safe for a band whose roots lay in raw, punk rock, and that had opened shows for the likes of Bad Religion, Motorhead and DRI in their early days. Goo Goo Dolls even had a song on the soundtrack for A Nightmare on Elm Street sequel Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991, the punky ‘I’m Awake Now’, giving them a bit of cult recognition before 1993’s breakthrough album, Superstar Car Wash.
Still, things change, and the band have since enjoyed massive success with 1995’s brilliant A Boy Named Goo album, and follow-up Dizzy Up The Girl which features worldwide hit ballad, ‘Iris’. Since then the Goo Goo Dolls have aged gracefully and matured musically with the occasional nod to their rockier past – and that brings us to the point where the band are now: the Christmas album.
Starting with ‘It’s Christmas All Over Again’, this is a nice, fairly warm and upbeat opening song with its sing-along chorus that’s also quite a fun beginning to the album. Second track, ‘Shake Hands With Santa Claus’ continues the fun theme with its brass band backing. It might feel a bit cheesy and the kind of thing that’s been done before but we can all forgive a bit of cheese at Christmas. Third track, ‘This is Christmas’, is the first original song and feels like what has become a trademark Goo Goo Dolls ballad, immediately bringing to mind the band’s big ballads ‘Name’ and ‘Iris’. It’s a nice enough song but feels a little too familiar. Still, fans of the above two songs will probably enjoy it.
From then on It’s Christmas All Over is a bit of a mixed bag, but the other original song ‘ You Ain’t Getting Nothin’ is an album highlight with its swing-style and “ho ho ho” refrain making it a fun little number that could get listeners dancing around the Christmas tree. The final part of the album all gets a bit Michael Bublé, and is a bit of a let down, with the standards ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ making an all too obvious appearance, and even being performed in a generic, Christmas song fashion. Maybe rocking things up a little could have been a good idea here and would have ended the album on a more exciting note.
Overall, a Christmas album from the Goo Goo Dolls could have worked better if the band got a little more daring with the material and offered something for fans old and new. But as it stands, It’s Christmas All Over is just a nice album with some feelgood festive moments. Nothing more, nothing less.
It’s Christmas All Over is out now from Warner Records.