Redbook (December 2010)
Download it! "OH SANTA!" - Mariah Carey, from Merry Christmas II You - This fun, frothy pop song will make your office party more like an actual... party!
Caryn Ganz, Rolling Stone
Mariah Carey hasn't lost the silky flexibility of her voice. Her take on a new batch of traditionals like "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is straightforward and sweet, full of strings and torchy piano arrangements and outfitted with a cameo from her opera-singer mom, Patricia, on "O Come All Ye Faithful/Hallelujah Chorus."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusicGroup
Five of the 12 full songs bear a Carey writing credit (including that revival of "All I Want for Christmas Is You") and these new tunes sometimes give Merry Christmas II You a lively modern feel, particularly the jumping Jermaine Dupri/Bryan-Michael Cox co-written opener "Oh Santa!" and the slow groove of "When Christmas Comes."
The range of these originals indicates the scope of the record as a whole, how it touches on a little of everything to please every kind of audience, mixing up "Auld Lang Syne" and a medley of Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas with traditional religious carols and secular favorites like "Here Comes Santa Claus." The whole thing is cheerful and engaging, a worthy sequel to its predecessor.
Joey Guerra, The Houston Chronicle
Christmas has been kind to Mariah Carey. Her first holiday album became that all-too-rare of things -- a modern classic. It was unpretentious, unfussy and joyous, buoyed by fantastic single All I Want for Christmas Is You, which still rings throughout the season.
Much of that same magic infuses Merry Christmas II You, Carey's follow-up to that 1994 highlight. Her belting is strong, and she doesn't overdo the breathy coos.
A quartet of new songs fit in snugly with the classics. First single Oh Santa! is irresistible, all hand claps and ' 60s girl-group swing. (Expect it to dominate ringtones as the holidays approach.) Christmas Time Is in the Air Again boasts swooping notes and tasteful strings, and When Christmas Comes plays like a holiday spin on the brassy R&B tunes that highlighted Carey's Emancipation of Mimi disc.
Her variation on the iconic Charlie Brown Christmas is appropriately gentle and nostalgic. And Carey's mother, Patricia, adds an operatic flourish to O Come All Ye Faithful, which builds to a grand, glass-shattering finale. (A good thing for Carey fans.)
The new disc also includes a pair of repeats from Carey's first Christmas album: a rousing live performance of O Holy Night and an extra-festive version of All I Want for Christmas Is You.
"Does anybody really know the words?" Carey asks during a thumping Auld Lang Syne. It hardly matters. There's enough sweet spirit here to keep the holidays merry, musical and bright.