Oh come on, I NEED to do Christmas album posts. As I begin this, Santa is in Reindeer Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada (thank you Norad!). I've never tracked Santa's travels before, so this has been a lot of fun. :) He came by my place about a half hour ago.
As I wind down from a wonderful dinner with my crazy family and a couple of great friends, I wanted to take a look at a new Christmas album from an artist who has a history of doing the classics right. Michael has talent, that's for sure. He's brought back the old hits to a new generation, and I most definitely can respect him for that. He's also been able to throw in a few of his own originals in the same style and has managed to make a great splash with all of them. "Everything" is one of my personal favorite songs, for instance.
Here's a cute little trailer for the album itself to get you warmed up. Don't get creeped out by him staring at the camera every freaking time he sings. Also, Michael, shave your face. I'd love you more (if that's possible). :)
It's far too quiet in my house right now, so let's dive in to the track-by-track!
We kick things off appropriately with "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas." I think this is a great opener for the season, and hence appropriate for the album itself. And Michael has the perfect voice for this to bring us into the music of the season. It's not one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, mostly because I read too much into it, and feel like it's only right for like, the first week after Thanksgiving. But really, lovely job.
"Santa Clause Is Coming To Town" is up next, and look - if it ain't Springsteen, don't try to pass it off to me in any other way. In fact, as a holiday gift to you and yours, here's a treat - Bruce and the E-Street Band, instead of Michael and his big band background, filmed in Red Bank, NJ!
Okay, that's kind of out of my system now. Kind of. :) I guess I should give Buble some time here too - they released a video for his version this year!
A little weird, but that's why we love Michael. Seriously, you should check out his YouTube channel. This dude is so surprisingly quirky and musically intelligent.
Okay, moving on to another song now, promise! The Puppini Sisters come on the next track, "Jingle Bells," and it's really a great throwback number to the old Andrews Sisters days. It's really a cute take on the song itself. I'm not very in to the swing sound unless I'm out to dance to it (yup, used to do that a few years back on Saturday nights!), but I give him props for this arrangement!
"White Christmas" is next, and I just worked on this musical a few weeks ago, so I know the song all too well. It's got that "do do, dododo" background, which makes it a little different and more upbeat. You know exactly the feel I'm talking about. Don't deny it. Oh, and btw - Michael doesn't do the falsetto part in this. Shania-flippin'-Twain came on for it. Ah, I never get sick of her voice. She was my favorite in the Shania vs. Faith debate, and I still love her airyness full of love, despite the fact I actually do enjoy the more slowed-down version of this one.
I have two seemingly theme songs this year, both of which Michael takes on in this album, and this is the first - "All I Want For Christmas Is You." Here's a video on his take on the arrangement that I think is really enlightening to the process:
Yeah, this version is much more slowed down. I adore the original (actually, the "Glee" version is even better), but I think I love this just as much. It's just gorgeous and so completely full of adoration. "Heartfelt" is how they describe it in the video, and it's so true. *sigh* Yup.
"Holly Jolly Christmas" is up next, and he puts in this little country guitar solo that I did not expect, but I like it. I mean, I wouldn't turn it off it came on the radio. It's just never been a favorite, but that sort of feeling isn't one that makes for easy reviewing of Christmas albums.
"Santa Baby," sung by a guy, makes me even more uneasy than a girl's version. He calls him "buddy" and changes up what he wants to fit a guy's wish list. It's a cute adaptation. Gotta say though, something doesn't mesh with Michael Buble singing "think of all the hotties I haven't kissed." Still not on my top list of great Christmas tracks, like, ever.
This next one is one of my favorite Christmas songs ever - "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and Michael does it right. That crooner voice and the full orchestra backing makes it sound like a classic immediately, even if it was recorded this year. Here's some studio insight:
Oh, nice choice of stills Weebly... adorable... ^_^ Really though, this song's so light and wonderfully perfect for the mood of Christmas Eve, once everyone's gone, and you're just left to relax and stare at the tree. So perfect.
"Christmas [Baby Please Come Home]"
Wait. Since when does Buble have funk? Seriously - watch the beginning of this! So much fun. I love studio insights, if you couldn't tell. I think cameras should be set up in studios constantly (a la Hanson's Facing The Blank Page) to give more appreciation for the process. And yeah, I love this one. Notice the subtle "love, love, love, love" Beatles tribute at the end? Yeah boi.
"Silent Night" comes to us next. I don't like the brass at the start, but I do like the sound of his voice taking this one on. It's very relaxing. There's something missing in the feeling for it though. I think I'm used to hearing this in church, and there's purpose behind it there. This just feels like a nicely done recording. And there are kids.
Remember when I said 2 songs were my themes for this year? "Blue Christmas" is next and the second song. Yup, my heart's a little sad this Christmas. However, this adaptation of the song is not sad on bit. It's got the Louisiana feel, which isn't bad, but not how the mood of the song generally works. It almost feels sarcastic.
"Cold December Night" is the one and only original song on here, and it's really a sweet one. It's got a cute beat with sweet lyrics. It's not a fantastic Christmas song, but most new ones take time to catch on. It's got the Buble feel though, and he just sounds great, as always.
"I'll Be Home For Christmas" is another classic, and it's definitely got the right tone and feel for the song. It's got a longing without being depressing, and his voice brings a hopefulness that's entirely necessary for the song itself. It's gentle and lovely and already in line with the best classics.
An amazingly beautiful song comes next, "Ave Maria." Any truly great singer can hit this out of the park, and Michael is no exception. He does so with a simple classical guitar backing him mainly, with a light string section behind that. Yes, it's actually more perfect for church than my stereo, but it's strikingly beautiful.
Okay, and we're ending with... "Mis Deseos/Feliz Navidad," done as a duet with Thalia. Okay. Um. Okay. No lie, not one of my favorite Christmas songs, and kind of cheesy in my head to end with for an entire album. These voices are fabulous, but these songs are blah.
Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again:
I know, I was a little surprised at myself too. But really, these are the only ones I could continually listen to. While the album is good as a whole, and around the holidays I wouldn't mind it on a playlist (lord knows Starbucks has kept this entire album in heavy rotation the past month), I just don't love his selection of songs for the whole thing.
He did say something that struck me in the opening video. He made a mention of how amazing this holiday is - that he still feels the same way as he did when he was 8 years old. I don't know about all y'all, but I know that feeling. This holiday is absolute magic in the world. I hope everyone is sleeping well and loved tonight.
And as a present to you all:
Get it, Carrie Fischer.
Oh, and as I end this, Santa is crossing into Roswell, New Mexico, USA. How appropriate!
Yes, got kind fo random in this post, but it was fun!! Feel free to comment below on absolutely anything I've shared tonight. :)
So this is one for a day with meaning. Frank Sinatra is who made me want to sing because my grandfather told me I could. See, he got a Karaoke program for his computer when I was about 8 years old, complete with a little cheap microphone. It was all Frankie music, and I happened to walk in when he was about to try it out. We sang a few songs together, including one from this album, "Embraceable You," and he turned to me, saying "You have an absolutely beautiful voice! Never stop singing, my little Janella."
I miss my PopPop every single day. He still means the world to me, and every man I've ever met has had a very tough time even coming close to measuring up. He persuaded my dreams and believed in every step I took, and I truly believe he still does from that big crazy Italiano dinner table in the sky. An entrepreneur, husband, father, and incredibly loving grandfather, Chicky Loffredo was the best. Period. The world lost him after a tough battle with cancer 10 years ago today, and it's been a little darker ever since. I miss and love you so much PopPop.
I thought I had heard every Frank Sinatra recording at this point, but Spotify had me stumble onto this little gem when I was picking out today's review album. I figured given the nature and memories, a duet album seemed appropriate.
So let's look at the tracks!
We kick things off with a swing duet with Peggy Lee, "You Brought A New Kind of Love To Me." This is truly a sweet, mood-setting song for a fun album.
Toe's a tapping, we move into the next number, "Let's Take An Old-Fashioned Walk," a duet with Dororthy Kirsten, who has one of the sweetest full-bodied voices I think I've ever heard. You just don't hear voices like this anymore! I also love the lasting concept of this song. Who just goes for a nice walk these days? Interesting to hear it treated the same way in those days as well - good to know this has always been "unheard of" but a real gem of a time. In fact, I liked this one so much, I'd like to share it with you guys right here and now, on a little side celebration of another singer (who's going to make an appearance later on this very album!), Miss Doris Day:
Wasn't that sweet?
"Tea For Two" is a classic, but this version with Dinah Shore really slows things down to a much more romantic mood. This has always struck me as a cutesy song, but this version really takes a different turn for me. I could see this on a mix as a romantic gesture easily.
"This Can't Be Love" with Margaret Whiting peps things up a little bit, with the idea of not really being able to be in love, but knowing you are. This song reminds me that things were usually recorded in front of live audiences, and the energy you can feel on this track proves it. Songs also used to tell stories very well, as we see in our next track, "The Girl Next Door" with June Hutton. I like it because of the relatability, even in a different time period. A lasting concept for sure...
"Let's Get Away From It All" with Connie Haynes and Jo Stafford brings the tempo back up, with a witty instrumental intro to get the audience up and dancing. The voices even feel a little more dulled to me, which makes them more background music to enjoy your dance to. A very familiar WWII sound actually. Not as much personal connection with the listeners on this one.
Then we get our girl Dorothy Kirsten back, and for a classic "Some Enchanted Evening." Who can't help but fall in love with this song? Love at first sight in a song. Excuse me while I swoon a bit. Self-professed-hopeless-romantic here. "Make her your own, or all your life you'll dream alone."
Judy Garland makes her first appearance on this album next in "Gotta Be This Or That." This is another toe-tapper, very cute, and a good feel to it. Not one of my favorites, but I feel that way when songs sound far too much alike to others. There's humor in the last verse, and the audience shines in their laughter, which makes up for the boredom I'm kind of settling into on this one. :| So sorry Judy & Frank! (Side note - I laughed out loud as I typed this - my old babysitter's name was Judy, and her husband was Frank.)
Sorry Eileen Barton, but you're not helping this little lull I'm getting in the middle of the CD with "Together." Actually on this one, it make be her voice. Sounds like she has a cold a little. Still a cute number, as is the next one, "Make Believe," with Jane Powell. Frank's spoken intro takes me back to a time I wish I had lived in, and this really shows him off as the crooner we all want to remember him as.
Okay, the next track with Peggy Mann is probably, by default, my favorite. I can't find a video with Peggy in particular, but here's one with Lena Horne and Old Blue Eyes so you get the effect:
I was in "Crazy For You" when I was 16, and I loved that the music was all the old standards I already knew and could sing to easily. This was in that show, a little faster paced mind you, but still romantic as hell. Who doesn't melt hearing "Just one look at you, my heart grew tipsy in me... You, and you alone, bring out the gypsy in me..."?? I know precisely who to think of in hearing that, and I think these old standards are meant to create a timeless feeling like that.Lillian Raimondi comes in next with "Lover, Come Back To Me," which is not something I feel the need to hear more than once. Maybe I'm coming down off the high of the last number, or maybe I'm being lulled to sleep a little... but I just feel sad hearing this, and not in a good reflective way, just sad. Doris Day comes in on the next track though, and "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" has never been performed better. Woo! This is a swinger and so much fun.Okay Judy, time for a redemption song. God I love her old time voice. I wish it were still marketable to sing like this. "My Romance" doesn't capture me much as a song, but again, I love their voices and the soothing feel they can produce with a single note. "No Can Do" with Lena Romay follows it up, and it's really an adorable song! I'm sure it was fantastic with a live audience and sort of as a comedy routine. Recorded? It's meh. Cute routine though, I'll give it that. Ready to move on. Toni Harper has something incredibly familiar in her voice - almost sort of modern. It's so jarring to hear in this, but it works. Musical boundaries, in my own mind alone, are being crossed, and I'm liking it. Barbara Britton, in "The Anniversary Song" doesn't quite give me the same feeling, but I can see this being a nice occasion song for the obvious day. This has a very Godfather-Italian-esq feel though, which I can certainly appreciate given my upbringing. This is probably what they'd dance to the next year after that fantastical affair."The night is young and you're so beautiful..." starts off the next track with June Hutton, by the same name. Oh man, sexy song, watch out. No, seriously, this is an old-school number, but wow could this one set the mood. Just saying. God I hope my future husband reads my reviews at some point. June and Frank aren't done with us yet though - they follow that one up with "I Think Of You," which is a little less appealing, but I get it. Actually, ever seen 1776? There's some Adams' love affair in this one somewhere."Come Out, Wherever You Are," with Eileen Barton again, is another cute one. I think Frank must have given the audience some cute look in this, because the ladies have a nice scream in the middle. But then June Hutton comes back for "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," which gives me the sultriness and Italian feel that just combine my favorite elements from my favorite songs on this album.Okay, now we get Doris Day again and "There's No Business Like Show Business," which is just classical and fun and wonderful for ANYONE involved in the entertainment industry, though being a theatre nut helps me love it even more. Just purely classic showtune-ness.Pearl Bailey closes out the album with Frank Sinatra for Parts I and II of "A Little Learnin' Is A Dang'rous Thing" which has a COMPLETELY different feel to it than the entire rest of the album! It's bluesy, soul-filled, and conversational. What a way to wrap things up. I loved this piece - I laughed, I understood, and I appreciated. This was a completely unexpected piece from Frankie, and I wish there was more of it.Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again:
So 8/24 sounds low. I look at it this way - Frank has TONS of standards that I am absolutely in love with. This was the first time I've heard a majority of these tracks, and it's not what I expected, but I did manage to get some new old favorites from the experience.Frankie shows me here that everyone does have hits and misses, and that's a timeless concept that can't be denied. Or avoided, apparently. But I did really enjoy these songs, many of which I had never heard before. You usually hear Frank Sinatra as a solo act, or with the Rat Pack, but not often enough with ladies (yes, I know, different time). I understand why, plus Nancy probably wouldn't have liked the sensualness of some of these numbers with him performing with other gals. ;)I loved this though, and love that even now my PopPop is introducing me to new music and instilling such an appreciation for the best of the best. Thank you again PopPop. <3What's some music that changed your life, thanks to another person? What music shaped who you are and why you do what you do today? Comment below, I'd love to share in the experience. :)
- "Let's Take An Old-Fashioned Walk" - http://open.spotify.com/track/5m3QzhXiilzgdciauqd8rM
- "The Girl Next Door" - http://open.spotify.com/track/0AEq4gOUPNt023DHxqpitC
- "Embraceable You" - http://open.spotify.com/track/2KwGuB8QAl5baXnLJC70ZD
- "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" - http://open.spotify.com/track/2r1am6u6eCpgQrkiAzEdkI
- "The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful" - http://open.spotify.com/track/2O1Ah8INh4XPfaioB9ZocA
- "There's No Business Like Show Business" - http://open.spotify.com/track/0fOhxYC7GERrjR3lwhlITv
- "A Little Learnin' Is A Dang'rous Thing (Pt. I)" - http://open.spotify.com/track/5sDelqds8a3jCjkYn312BD
- "A Little Learnin' Is A Dang'rous Thing (Pt. II)" - http://open.spotify.com/track/5zjm8Cil3m8BaFGjdll41k