Lyrical Spin: ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas’

Erika Pope

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The song says, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.” Well, in some ways it’s also beginning to “sound” a lot like Christmas everywhere you go and we at the Oracle are no exception. Like the album picked for this article, the final installment of the Lyrical Spin is dedicated to the spirit of the holiday season.

But fret not you scrooges of Christmas, there are positive things as well as negative things about this album.

“Now That’s What I Call Christmas” is a two-CD set compilation album with a total of 36 songs from some of the music industry’s brightest stars belting out a little bit of the holiday cheer. The format of the song list is a direct mirror of one of the most famous Christmas stories “A Christmas Carol,” because some of the songs are from the past and some are from the present. However, judging from some of the people who were picked to appear on this album, if I were to rename it, it would be called “Now Some of That’s What I Call Christmas.” You’ll all understand why as we go along.

Disc one embraces the songs from the Christmas past, featuring who’s who of musical legends; stars like Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and the king himself, Elvis Presley. More of the songs on this disc are the classic Christmas tunes, yet non-religious songs. Examples of this are “Winter Wonder,” recorded by Tony Bennett, and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” sung by Brenda Lee. On a scale from one to ten (One being bad, ten being good), the song and star selection are both in the tens.

Disc two features more modern artists such as jazz musician Harry Connick Jr., classic rocker Paul McCartney, Latin sensation Gloria Estefan and even a song from the boys of N*Sync. However, unlike disc one, disc two is guaranteed to throw you for a loop because there is more of a variety of genres on this one. Two of the tracks are strictly instrumental. The first is a version of “Away in A Manger,” by Manheim Steamroller and the second is “Deck the Halls,” is by flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert. Another fact that sets this disc apart from the first is that nine of the tracks are songs that you’ve never heard of, a bad move unless the songs picked were really well done, which some of them are.

While a lot of the songs on this disc are well put together, the majority of the songs fall into the categories of bad singers happening to good Christmas songs (Bruce Springsteen’s scratchy version of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”), bad songs happening to good artists (Joe’s song “This Christmas”…Cheesy!), and my personal favorite, bad artists or songs happening to what could have been a good holiday album. The best example of this is the appearance of The Isley Brothers and Michael Bolton.

As a whole the album can be a good purchase; it can also be a waste of money. So this week, the thumbs go up and down. However, I will end on this note …

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!