A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that many of today's top tween stars appear on this holiday benefit album featuring traditional Christmas carols and holiday pop songs. There's no coal in this stocking as all the tracks are appropriate for any age. And because this is a charity album and everyone on it contributed their time and vocal skills to the project, kids can be inspired by the spirit of giving. They can also learn about the Special Olympics, the organization that benefits from this decades-old musical tradition.
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What's the story?
Like mistletoe and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, this iconic Keith Haring Nativity album cover has become a familiar image of the holiday season. And this year is no exception with the new A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS 7 being released. In the past bands like U2, Bon Jovi, and No Doubt have performed on the benefit compilations. But this year, the album takes a decidedly tween twist with Disney fan favorites like Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, and Vanessa Hudgens lending their voices in support of Special Olympics. Other pop favorites include Sean Kingston, Carrie Underwood, and Colbie Caillat, along with Gossip Girl and emerging vocalist Leighton Meester.
Is it any good?
Young holiday cheer-seekers should find a musical present in this album. With some of today's hottest pop stars providing their take on holiday standards, there's no shortage of timely fun here. Colbie Caillat applies her breathy surfer sound to "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas," The Carter Twins offer up a nice country interpretation of "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!," and Miley Cyrus presents a perfectly pop "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Sean Kingston turns "The Little Drummer Boy" into a jammin' reggae track, while Kristinia DeBarge energizes "Do You Hear What I Hear?" with a hip-hop flavor. A few tracks suffer from a bit of over-singing, such as Charice's "The Christmas Song" and "Last Christmas" by Ashley Tisdale, but it's Christmas time, so a little flamboyance is forgivable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about celebrity role models. Do you think contributing to a benefit album like this helps a celebrity's image? Does it matter to you whether a celebrity contributes to causes and gives back to the community? Which celebrities do you feel are most generous with their time?
Families can talk about Leighton Meester and her Gossip Girl character, Blair Waldorf. What do you think about this Gossip Girl being featured on an album with Miley Cyrus and Ashley Tisdale? Do you think being on a controversial TV show affects Meester's image? Does it make her a more popular figure? Should Gossip Girl be grouped into tween culture with Hannah Montana and High School Musical, or is the show too much for adolescents?
Talk about holiday giving. Why is it important to give back? What are some charities and organizations that you would like to help? The singers on this album gave their time and talents to this project. Can you think of ways to volunteer to help your community? What special talents could you use?
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