Thursday, December 21, 2006

More Christmas Leftovers

Day 12 of the TCR Christmas Extravaganza

Last post covered the leftover albums, this post covers the leftover songs.

Britney Spears - "My Only Wish (This Year)"
I like Britney's work a lot, of course, and I've noticed a few pop people talking this up. I had high hopes for it. But dear God this sucks ass. Really cheesy lyrics & cheesy melody. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but the lyrics are almost a direct ripoff of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (only worse), and the melody just isn't catchy enough. Needs a little bit more oomph to the melody, or a better backing track or just SOMETHING more than what it has. As it is, it's just barely there. One to pass on.
Youtube: My Only Wish (This Year)

Crazy Frog - "Last Christmas"
I've noticed that "Last Christmas" is a pretty common cover fodder for this teen/tween bubblegum crew. But I've yet to hear a really essential version of it (including the Wham! version, actually). This one certainly doesn't qualify. It's basically the normal song sung by a disco/Europop singer, with with a disco/Europop beat behind it. Random Crazy Frog interjections throughout the song. Very half-assed.
Youtube: Last Christmas

'N Sync - "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"
This is a very upbeat song, and not a ballad as I expected it to be. This was the debut single off of their Christmas album, which was mostly mediocre. This, however, is a pretty good song. Not the best 'N Sync single, not by a long shot, but not a bad song either. The main hook in the chorus is good. Extremely generic lyrics, like the title would imply, which hurts the song but not irreparably so. References to snow, Santa, bells, family, "wonderful feeling", God, "gifts under the tree". Features a gospel choir towards the end. So yeah, like I said quite generic, but the hook in the chorus is good enough to justify the existence of the song, if not to make it a classic. One of the better teen pop Christmas songs.
Youtube: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Hanson - "Everybody Knows the Claus"
This was the main original track off of Hanson's now forgotten Christmas album Snowed In, which was released in late 1997, right at the height of their popularity. It's your typical quick cash in album, featuring a rather uninspired slate of 8 covers and 3 originals, only one of which I was able to track down. The covers, of what I heard, are pleasant enough, though rather generic. Where Hanson's originals are concerned, I of course like "MmmBop" and I still have a soft spot for "Where's the Love". This doesn't stack up to those, but it's not BAD per se. This song is very much in the style of Hanson's other hits, and is an obvious grab at recreating their popularity. But like most of their tracks it's got a nice guitar sound and a nice melody in the chorus. The melody in the chorus does fall a bit flat, but it's still enough to get stuck in your head. And you can say what you want about the lyrics, but they certainly aren't generic. The lyrics are about how Santa loves food and is fat. Sample: "Don't you smell the cookies he's bakin'/Can't you see that belly, its shakin'/Don't take a cookie off of that pan/You don't want to mess with this man." A fairly inspired idea for a song, and the execution makes the lyrics quite silly. So while the song doesn't really seem to go anywhere in particular, it's a worthy entry into the teenpop Christmas canon.
Can't find anywhere to listen to it for free online.

Hannah Montana - "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
For the Cheetah Girls, Aly&AJ, and Hilary Duff, they went the route of doing a full Christmas album filled with catchy original tracks. The original tracks on both of those albums are right up there with anything else they've done. For Hannah Montana, apparently, they are just doing one single cover song, rather than a whole album. At least for this year. They are going for a really rocked out arrangement on this, it's far more rock than anything that's on HM's album. To be honest, while I love HM's voice, it's not very well suited to this type of singing. I wish they would stick with the mid-tempo to up-tempo pure pop songs, because man does her voice sound amazing on those. But when you get a song like a dance song or a rock song that requires her to inject a bit of edge to her voice, in my opinion, she lacks the strength of voice to pull it off. Not only that, but the song itself isn't one of the best Christmas songs out there. Hopefully this will quickly fade away & be forgotten so that Miley can move on to what she can actually do well at. Nice electric guitar sound on the production though.
Youtube: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

S Club 7 - "Perfect Christmas"
Like the Hannah Montana single above, this was basically a bonus track for the fans, not on any of their actual albums, and not on a Christmas album of any sort. Unlike that track it's an original track, and not a cover. They've gone for a slow ballad for this take, sung mostly by Rachel and Jo, two of the females in the group. The vocals of the males in the group can barely be heard on this, even on the big harmonized chorus. Like a lot of the other songs I've reviewed (too many, if you ask me) this isn't a Christmas song, so much as a love song that mentions Christmas in the lyrics. So yeah, like "All I Want for Christmas Is You" it's about how she really just wants to spend Christmas with her beau, and the lyrics are rather generic and unremarkable. But, it's got a really great melody, and overall it's a rather pretty song. Catchy chorus, with very nice harmonies, and Rachel & Jo really nail the verses too. The instrumentation is rather spare, but I like what they've done with the percussion and strings a lot. A good pop ballad.
Youtube: Perfect Christmas

Jordan Pruitt - "Santa Don't Stop"
Well, I like Jordan Pruitt a lot, as previously stated, especially "Outside Looking In". I even like her cover of "We Are Family". So when I heard that she had a new Christmas song out written by the same team who wrote "Outside Looking In" and (the also good) "Teenager" (and "Jump to the Rhythm" too), I was very excited to hear it. The lyric to this song describes how Jordan's boyfriend has wronged her, and thus doesn't deserve any presents. "Someone's been a really bad boy this Christmas/Someone's been acting more naughty than nice/Santa don't stop to give him toys/Someone's been a really bad, a really bad boy". The verses go on to explain how he broke her heart, etc. Good lyrics, and a lyrical concept that I don't believe I've ever heard in another Christmas song. I'm starting to really like Robin Scoffield as a lyricist. That being said, I'm slightly distressed to see that this continues along the R&B lite track of "Teenager" rather than the confessional track of "Outside Looking In". Though it's not out and out R&B like "Jump to the Rhythm" is. That doesn't mean it's a bad song, because it isn't, but just that I was hoping Jordan Pruitt was gonna be the new confessional savior, which it's now clear she won't be. I guess "Outside Looking In" was a one shot deal. Nothing really Christmas-y about the production, either. Anyways, despite the previous, good lyrics, a very catchy chorus, and a nice guitar underlying the production make this the best Christmas teen pop song reviewed in this post yet (OK, maybe "Perfect Christmas"). I was a bit let down by "Jump to the Rhythm", but I'm starting to look forward to that album more and more. Very similar to "Teenager", actually (although I think "Santa Don't Stop" is better), so if you liked that one this is definitely one to check out.
Myspace: Santa Don't Stop

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Nia said...

Hello. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you on "Everybody Knows the Claus," which I think is really, really half-assed. "Christmas Time" is my favorite Hanson holiday original--it's sort of the Christmas version of "Weird," with a dash of "I Will Come to You." Hanson has this particular way of doing drama, which reached its peak with This Time Around, where the song sounds like life or death, but the lyrics don't quite live up to it--it's all about reaching into your heart and "souls calling" and whatever--but who cares, because they sell it better than anyone else, and they're sure selling it o n the bridge of "Christmas Time." Plus: Isaac Hanson's one and only good vocal, at 2:55!

Anyway, I know where you can find the full album if you want to give it a listen. It's better as a whole, I think. And actually, in a lot of ways, Snowed In is my favorite Hanson album, because they're all doo-woppy and distilled--just as joyful as Middle of Nowhere but without all the record-scratching, and not yet carrying the "we wish we were Jonny Lang" banner from This Time Around.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Greg said...


Thanks for the comments. I actually don't disagree that it's half-assed, but it's still rather catchy and at least the lyrics are DIFFERENT even if they are a little bit hokey. Believe me, after listening to a hundred identical teen pop Christmas songs in a row it was a welcome change of pace.

My comments on the song may have betrayed that I know little about Hanson (just this song, "MMMBop" and "Where's the Love"), but your comments intrigue me. I'm going to try and track down some of their albums. I'd be interested in listening to this album. Talk to me, either in the comments or using the "E-mail Me" link in the sidebar.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

One more thing, Nia, keep in mind that "worth entry into the teenpop Christmas canon" is a rather low bar to clear, so it's not as if I consider this song a classic or anything.

4:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home