Monday, December 11, 2006

Listening Diary: Ali Lohan - Lohan Holiday

Day 7 of the TCR Christmas Extravaganza

I'm getting a bit bored with writing Christmas album reviews, since they are all so crushingly similar. I can only imagine that my readership is therefore getting bored with reading Christmas album reviews. So I thought I'd try something new for this album (and in case you aren't keen on reading the titles to posts, "this album" is Lohan Holiday by Ali Lohan). As I listen to this album for the first time, I'm gonna jot my thoughts down, song by song, and then I'll transcribe them into the blog. That way it will catalogue my thoughts on the album in real-time, as they happen! I know literally nothing about this album, except that it exists and it's by Lindsay Lohan's younger sister and it was released this year. I haven't read anything by anybody who has heard the album, I don't know of anybody who has listened to the album, and I have absolutely no idea what the album sounds like or even what genre it's in. I've never heard Ali Lohan sing. So therefore I am going in with a completely open mind. No idea what to expect here, but I do like Lohan the elder's music, and we all know I have a soft spot for Christmas songs, so I have high hopes. Let's get this started. I want to stress: I have only heard these songs once! My initial impressions of songs sometimes change (but usually for the worse).

1. "Christmas Day"
Starts out with pleasant electric guitar riff and electronically modified vocals. Wow, Ali Lohan has a tiny, tiny voice. What the hell is with the production on this song, it sounds like a Casio preset and the music is drowning out the voice. Wow, I've heard Wesley Willis songs with more complex musical backdrops than this. Fairly nice melody, but this song is like a wisp, barely even there. The melody at the beginning of this chorus reminds me of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" for some reason. The "make my wish come true" part in particular. Lyrics are pleasantly Christmas-y. This is not a good start.

2. "I Like Christmas"
Hey this song also starts out with a pleasant electric guitar riff. OK either the volume levels on my computer are screwed up, I got a bad rip from ITunes, or the vocals on this album are mixed incredibly low. Decent buildup in the chorus, but man does the melody fall flat. This song is better than the last song, no Casio preset keyboards. This song has quite possibly the most inane lyrics I've ever heard in a major label release though, it's almost embarrassing to listen to.
Note the main hook in the chorus reads: "I like Christmas fun like a ride in a one horse open sleigh/I like Christmas fa la la la la all the way (hey)".

3. "Winter Wonderland"
No electric guitar riff. Classic bubblegum production to start out. They've slightly varied the melody on this cover, interesting. Ali is a really bad singer, it's starting to bug me. At about 1:30 is the most boring musical interlude I've heard on one of these albums yet. Ooh, this one is going on for at least a minute too long. Wow, most repetitive outro ever. Maintains an dreamy feeling throughout, Ali's completely personality-less voice actually helps the overall feel of the song here. Production is simple but catchy. Despite all above, this is not a bad cover at all. Maybe the rest of the album will be listenable.

4. "Christmas Magic"
I read on Wikipedia that this was the album's first single. Starts out with an interesting instrumental riff. Relatively heavy on the bass. This song has good verses, I'm praying the chorus pays off. Ouch, it does not. This song is nearly hookless. The main meldoy to this song is sung by a bunch of background singers. Wise decision. I just checked to see if the song was about over, and it's less than halfway through. Ali Lohan's voice has so little character and personality that it's continually shocking to me. I mean, Hilary Duff is a "bad" singer but she at least has character to her voice. Ali may as well be talking here. Whoops, I just fell asleep. There is no possible justification for this song being four minutes long. Jesus, this song was horrible. [After the fact add by Greg: listen for yourself].

5. "Jingle Bells"
Awesome, starts out with sweet U2 style guitars! This song has a good instrumental intro. Too bad it's still "Jingle Bells" the most boring Christmas song ever. Why do all the teen stars feel the need to cover this song. I like the production on this. I'm curious if this song has a different producer than the previous, because it's way, way more busy than the previous songs. There's more musical content in the instrumentation to this song than in the prior 4 combined. This is way better than the B2K version. This has been the best song on the album yet (not much competition).

6. "Groove of Christmas"
Starts out with a mildly groovy beat, I approve. Going for an R&B style song on this, and I'm really not feeling it so far, maybe it'll pick up. Once again the main melody of this song in the chorus is being sung by the backup singers. Horrible production on this song too. The "horn" parts are hurting my ears. I again have to wonder if this song was produced on a Casio. Ha, robot like vocal manipulations on this song. Apparently the way to make a mediocre melody memorable is to repeat it 50 times in the song. Every one of these songs so far has done it. This is probably the worst song I've heard all year.

7. "Lohan Holiday" (featuring Lindsay Lohan)
This song has a kickass title. Ooh sounds like this is gonna be the album's big ballad. Ali's singing is still bad, and the lyrics are ridiculous, but this is BY FAR the best original song on the album so far. "Let me take you on a Lohan holiday" is the only catchy melody in any of these songs yet. Good work, Lohan. Production is again very simple, but on a big ballad like this, that's hardly important. Not a great song, but it's got an actually CATCHY CHORUS, though the verses and production are both pretty boring and Ali is still a bad singer. Melody, what an amazing concept. I wonder whether I'm just liking this by comparison to the previous or if it's actually good. This is the first song yet that I might actually listen to after this is over. I do wonder how a "Lohan Holiday" differs from the regular variety. Anyways, compared to the rest, this is the f'n Beatles. Worth checking out anyways. Took me by surprise.

8. "Deck The Halls"
God, behind "Jingle Bell Rock" this is my least favorite Christmas song ever. Early returns are that this song isn't gonna redeem it. Like Hilary Duff, you can really hear the thinness of Ali's voice when she goes for a high note. Oh God, this thing is gonna go on for 4:30. I have nothing to say about this song because it's been so boring and unremarkable. They aren't doing ANYTHING with this song, it's rote repetition. This is kind of like the version my dad does at the neighborhood Christmas party. I'd love to hear the person responsible for this song explain it's length.

9. "Silent Night" (Reading - Dina Lohan)
The title to this song intrigues me. What will Dina Lohan be reading? Oh goddd, I can't stand the suspense. Wow they are really changing up the melody of this song. Not an idea I'm inherently opposed to, but it's not really working here, I don't think. Despite the slight variation in melody, still a very boring version. Nothing going on in the production at all. Way more upbeat that I thought it was gonna be. Dina started reading! She's reading from the Bible. Isn't this song supposed to be pretty? Why in the world are they doing it so upbeat?

10. "Santa's Reindeer Ride" (featuring Amy Grant)
Whoa, how the heck did they get Amy Grant to do this? This is Santa's first appearance on this album. The melody to this song seems extremely familiar but I'm having trouble placing it. Wow, Amy Grant is a good singer. I had almost forgotten what good singing sounds like. I hate to keep repeating myself, but this song totally sucks ass. Once again there's nothing to this song at all. Wait I just realized that the reason it sounds familiar is that it is originally by Amy Grant. The original was way better. Do I have to turn in my music fan card if I admit that I like some of Amy Grant's early recordings a lot? I would do a (rave) review of her Home for Christmas album on this blog if there was anyways I could justify it as "teen pop". "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" is seriously one of my favorite Christmas songs. Oh well. I've written nothing about this song but that's because it's so boring. [After the fact add by Greg: A quote from this article clears up the whole thing - Ali's vocals were digitally added to the critically acclaimed singer Amy Grant's song, "Santa's Reindeer Ride," originally recorded by Grant as a teenager at the start of her career.]

11. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
Really upbeat opening riff to start this. Going with background singers on the main melody again, it sounds like. This album has the worst selection of traditional cover songs ever, even worse than B2K. The spoken word interludes in this song are ridiculous. Wait, this isn't an interlude, it's the entire song. Is this even a song? It kind of sounds like a choir singing a simple melodic line a couple times, then really simple production repeating over and over again while boring people say boring things. Why the hell does this exist? I'm so glad I decided to review the album in this way, because if I was doing a real review it might mean I would have to listen to these songs again.

12. "I Like Christmas (Remix)"
Well by now I've pretty much forgotten what the original mix to this song sounded like. It was pretty unmemorable. The electric guitar has more edge to it this time than last time around, I'm thinking. OK it's pretty easy to tell how this is different from the original. Didn't the original have verses and lyrics? Whereas this is 5:30 of the SAME GODDAMN GUITAR RIFF repeating over and over and over again. This song is making me laugh out loud. Wow, it's horrible.

Final Verdict on the First Time Through: Aside from "Lohan Holiday" & to a certain extent "Jingle Bells" this is the worst album I've heard all year. Not impossibly the worst album of all time. 0/10.

Late Edit By Greg: Listen to "Lohan Holiday" here, though not the best sound quality.

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