…on the classics loved by many
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear … although some should probably sing a bit louder than others. While a majority of this year’s Christmas albums sound like wannabe top 40 hits, there are a few diamonds in the rough. The following albums demonstrate the wide spectrum that was Christmas music from 2012. Although the chances of any of these albums becoming a Christmas classic is slim, I would recommend giving them a chance purely for the sake of getting into the Christmas spirit.
Christmas In The Sand by Colbie Caillat
I generally like Colbie Caillat’s mellow acoustic music, but this album was an exception. Her “tropical” take on Christmas classics, as well as her original tracks included on the album don’t quite jive with the snowy Christmas I’m accustomed to.
Her original track, “Christmas In The Sand,” makes use of the ukulele, jingle bells, and drum while featuring lyrics such as “… I saw Santa in a bathing suit” to reiterate the fact that this is indeed a tropical-themed album. By the time I got to the end, I couldn’t help but to feel as if I had just listened to a Katy Perry song instead of the usual laid-back Caillat, which was quite disappointing.
For all of the Gavin DeGraw fans out there (I know there are plenty at Gustavus), Caillat’s rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” will be a crowd pleaser. Although it’s not the most original version of this song that I’ve heard, it’s definitely one of the better sounding tracks on the album. Caillat and Degraw’s voices blend together well to produce a light-hearted sound that many will enjoy.
Because “Auld Lang Syne” is one of my favorite holiday songs, I was really looking forward to hearing the low-key, yet soulful version that is so characteristic of Caillat. Beginning with soft acoustics to compliment her voice, Callait builds up to an almost “Lord of the Rings-esque” sound during the bridge. While surprising, this was a much-appreciated twist on a classic.
While most of the songs on this album are rather juvenile, the one or two gems she does manage to produce are decently done. Overall, I’d recommend “Auld Lang Syne,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” as good options for background music while decorating the tree, however, the rest of the track is just too tropical for my taste.
A Very Merry Perri Christmas by Christina Perri
When I think of my ideal Christmas music, it generally features classic instruments, jazzy vocals and a warmth you don’t get from any other kind of music. Christina Perri’s A Very Merry Perri Christmas album is just that. Her wide vocal range and soulful voice is accompanied by a lovely musical ensemble that contributes to the album’s success.
Perri’s track “Ave Maria” is one of the most beautiful and heartwarming renditions I have ever come across. The earnestness in her voice along with the simplicity of the guitar gives this stunning classic the timeless vibe it’s known for. This song is definitely one that people will be playing for years to come.
“Happy X-Mas (War is Over)” is a Christmas song that isn’t listened to enough, which is why I was ecstatic to see it on Perri’s album. Her rendition is a wonderful throwback to the original and tastefully done. The vibrato in her voice lends itself nicely to the vintage feel of the original, while the guitar during the last chorus adds a nice rock n’ roll vibe that cuts out at the very end to give emphasis to Perri’s clear voice. This adds to the emotional aspect of the song and gives it a powerful ending that resonates with the audience.
Another favorite track of mine from this album is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Accompanied by the piano, Perri’s voice shines in this soulful yet simple take on a holiday favorite.
Although this is a relatively short album, being that there are only six songs, every single one of them is beautiful and special in its own distinct way. Through creating this work of art, it is clear that Perri was aiming for quality over quantity: a goal she both met and exceeded.
Cee Lo Green’s album, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment is very diverse in the way it sounds and in the artists featured. The second track, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” featuring Christina Aguilera has a slower tempo than the original, which allows Aguilera to show off her large vocal range. Although some may enjoy her ability to go from hitting a high E to a low C in one breath, I found it a distraction from the actual song. Despite this, the instrumentals of the track are great and give this song a 1950s feel.
One interesting song choice that showed up in this album is “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” I was expecting to hear the same kinds of instruments that are present in the original, but was instead surprised by an a capella version featuring No Chaser. While this was an amusing twist at first, I found myself pining for the original version of my childhood by the end due to the overly dramatic and theatrical nature of Green’s take on it.
In looking at the list of songs on this album, I was happy to see that “Silent Night” was the last song on the album because I had hoped it would be a gentle and soft conclusion to what is an otherwise obnoxious and superficial album. The beginning is nice, but it builds up into a gospel-like crescendo after about two minutes and Green finishes with his usual melodramatic ending, thus ruining the song.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of Cee Lo Green’s album, I think audiences that like his other albums will certainly enjoy this one. It fully embraces his usual over-the-top style and features artists such as Christina Aguilera and Rod Stewart to mix things up, however, I don’t think this will become a classic anytime soon.