Before starting this review, I must acknowledge that it goes against my nature to negatively criticize any legitimate charity project, no matter how crass, slapdash, and indefensible it may otherwise seem to be, and I am not questioning the legitimacy of either charity This Christmas benefits. As churlish as it may be to point out the shortcomings of such a benevolent undertaking, though, it would be inexcusable to give this album a pass on the basis of good intentions, alone.
What strikes you first about This Christmas by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is, really, Olivia Newton-John? Is that still a thing?
And on seeing the album cover, that's her? She looks healthy, in a surgically enhanced sort of way, which is a relief after her early-'90s bout with breast cancer. But she looks nothing like the co-star of Grease or the perpetrator of "Have You Ever Been Mellow"! This woman could pass for Rachael Ray with a so-so dye job.
The lead female voice on the This Christmas sounds sufficiently Aussie and breathy to convince that, even if she had a photo stand-in, those vocals are courtesy of Olivia (and, most likely, AutoTune). And Ms. Newton-John knows her way around holiday music, as well as she does any, having released at least two Christmas albums in the past decade. Still, given both stars' appearance, we should not rule out figures from Madame Tussauds standing in for either of them on the cover.
The makeup staff were so intent on Travolta’s “Ken doll” wig remaining securely in place, they apparently not only glued that felt-cloth-looking atrocity on his head, they also conjoined the two stars’ heads. The adorable pair are so close, it would appear, they did not settle for merely tête à tête, they got absolutely ear to ear (or oreille à l’oreille).
It's impossible to tell from the photo what Olivia has in her cup, although her expression would suggest mulled wine or something lithium based. Travolta’s cup looks to be filled to the brim with crème brulee or, possibly, bacon drippings. Other related photos depict the two adorably sharing a sip from an oversized teacup (judging from their expressions, its contents also liberally spiked with lithium); her wearing a set of green antlers and hefting the giant antidepressant-cup, he in a Santa cap, ready to dive into that cup of bacon drippings again. And there's a zany shot of them in front of a hearth fire that looks about as realistic as the one on that $2 yule log video I bought, she holding a tiny gift, he with a lapful of festive presents that would be right at home in an artificial tree display at Hell-Mart, with two jumbo cups of Darvon at their feet. And in the “cute couple by the tree” shot, she still doesn’t seem to be herself, while he looks like his unseen hand might conceal a chloroform-soaked cloth he’s ready to clamp down over her mouth and nose.