One of the more appealing aspects of the AMERICAN IDOL phenomenon is after the wheat is separated from the chaff, the famed barbs of Simon Cowell fly with less frequency, and the show is actually quite flowing with positivity. In the final weeks of each season, the few contestants who remain work together, and even when the winner is elected, it's not over, since the runner-up singers from each season have also received recording contracts.
Given this good-natured spirit, AMERICAN IDOL: THE GREAT HOLIDAY CLASSICS gathers both the first two years' winners, Ruben Studdard and Kelly Clarkson, along with Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Justin Guarini, and many others, to put their spins on holiday standards. Clay (whose debut album hits stores the same day as GREAT HOLIDAY CLASSICS) leads off with a powerful, orchestral take on "The First Noel" benefited by his trademark quiver. Ruben, who ultimately beat Clay by a slight margin, trades soulful vocals with his perfect IDOL foil, first season sentimental fave Tamyra Gray, on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" before closing the disc with a stirring solo take of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas." And while first season champ Kelly doesn't appear on the main album, she drops by for two star turns on a bonus disc.