The bitter chill in the air and the ornamentation adorning more and more households each day can only mean one thing — it’s time, once again, for our favorite pop stars to churn out some easy Christmas cash-ins! Venture if you will on this bountiful sleigh ride of Christmas tracks that 2011 has brought.
Justin Bieber: “Mistletoe”
The Canadian money-making automaton now has a Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe, ripe for pre-tween consumption. The album’s single, “Mistletoe,” is an original by production team the Messengers. Surprisingly, it’s not Bieber’s traditional brand of highly produced dance-pop. Instead, it’s in the vein of Jason Mraz (ahem, rip-off), accompanied by a sparse combo of sleigh bells and acoustic guitar. The lyrics are somewhat confounding. There’s definitely a parallel made between the “miracle” of kissing his “shorty” and the birth of Jesus. Additionally, there are “chestnuts roasting like a hot July” (because that’s a thing we do in July?) and the “word on the street, Santa’s coming tonight” (your street informants suck, Justin). While Bieber gets more vitriol than he deserves, “Mistletoe” only has the potential to spawn more haters.
Scott Weiland: “Winter Wonderland”
Scott Weiland has a Christmas album (The Most Wonderful Time of the Year). There’s a 40- to 95-percent chance that Scott Weiland is unaware of this. The notoriously drug-addled frontman of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver sounds positively sloshed on this version of “Winter Wonderland.” There’s nothing rock ’n’ roll about the arrangement. Instead, it attempts a more classic, lounge-singer vibe. It falls flat. The track’s lifelessness makes it seem like Weiland rolled into the studio and somebody handed him a sheet of lyrics and told him “Here, sing this.” Any Spokanite found listening to this over the Bing Crosby rendition should be jailed.
She & Him: “The Christmas Waltz”
Hardly the most canonized holiday tune, “The Christmas Waltz” (from A Very She and Him Christmas) suits the indie-pop duo well. Zooey Deschanel’s vocals are typically sweet and day-dreamy (though a shade too much reverb creates unnecessary echo) and though the guitar work isn’t much of a test for M. Ward, he handles it precisely. Save for a few keystrokes on the bridge, it’s nothing but Deschanel voice and Ward’s strums, making the song understated in a very good way. This could be your new favorite Christmas song.
Bowling For Soup: “Even Santa Needs A Break Sometimes”
Bowling For Soup should be commended for the fact that many of the holiday tracks on their album Merry Flippin’ Christmas Volumes 1 and 2 are originals. “Even Santa Needs A Break Sometimes” finds frontman Jaret Reddick being questioned by his actual kids (Emma and Jack) about what Santa does on his time off. The answer? Apparently Santa “grabs a snorkel and fins and he checks out the reef,” plays lot of golf in the spring, helps the Easter Bunny with his calendar (because the date of Easter changes), and manages his naughty/nice list. The frenetic run-down of activities is set on top of fast pop-punk backing, with some frantic piano-pounding thrown in for good measure. The addition of Reddick’s kids’ impromptu speculations (including that Santa may be gluing together all the iPods and iPads) makes this a true dose of yuletide family-friendly fun.
Glee Cast: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Their ratings may be plummeting, but that doesn’t stop the cast of Glee from belting it out on their second Christmas album. They decided to end the aforementioned album with a cover of the most blowhard-y Christmas tune of all: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” For those who don’t recall, back in 1984 Bob Geldof got a bunch of his famous friends (Paul McCartney, Bono, Sting) together to bum every holiday shopper out by informing them that there’s famine in Ethiopia. The “classic” includes choice lines to get you in the holiday spirit, like, “It’s a world of dreaded fear, where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears” and “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you!” Now that same sense of self-righteous shame is brought to you by the teen sensations (complete with their superb harmonizing and shiny pop polish) that you can find on Tuesday at 8/7 Central on FOX! Feel the cheer!
Michael Bublé feat. Thalia – “Mis Deseos/Feliz Navidad”
Michael Bublé could roll out of bed and record a pitch-perfect rendition of a Christmas classic that your mom would adore. The low degree of difficulty clearly has left him bored to the point that, sometime during the recording of his latest Christmas album, aptly titled Christmas, he went, “Screw it, I’m gonna try this next one in Spanish.” Of course, he nails the all-Spanish intro (“Mis Desesos”) and proceeds to trade well-sung alternating lines of Spanish and English with Thalia during the “Feliz Navidad” part. Bublé is a holiday wrecking ball that cannot be stopped.