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Four Factor: Clash of the Xmas Crooners

2007-12-11 06:19
This week’s four factors rated out of ten are:

Sing-along Factor: Is the stocking stuffed with all those carols that we’ve grown to love over the years? (10)

Snow Factor: Does it still sound as uplifting after Christmas? Or will it melt away with the Christmas snow? (10)

Fruit Cake Factor: Is it that sticky, sweet and lumpy cake that just won’t go down? Or is it made just right, soft and sweet enough to make you want more? (10)

Boney M Factor: “Long time ago in Bethlehem...” remember that jam? Of course you do, it was funky, fresh and it was carols like you’ve never seen them before. That is why we still remember Boney M. Have these artists managed to give ordinary carols an extraordinarily funky makeover? (10)

Our candidates are:

Michael Bublé: Let it Snow (EP)

Sing-along Factor: Let it Snow takes us way back to meet ghosts of Christmas past including classic sing-alongs such as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. Although Bublé’s made a Vegas jazz egg nog out of the original torch song arrangements you may still be able to swing along with him in “Let it Snow”, “The Christmas Song”, and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. 9

Snow Factor: Let it Snow is all about season greetings, overcooked children’s anecdotes by the fireplace and frost nipping at your nose. Right. So none of us in SA will be listening to this album until April then? Verdict: an album you put away in the attic with the rest of your ‘white’ Christmas decorations. 5

Fruit Cake Factor: Snow, snow and more snow is all Michael Bublé sings about which is fine if you are looking for Christmas music to cuddle with your sweetie in front of the fire in the middle of the Antarctica. But if you live under the blazing African sun and you’ve never seen white stuff coming down in big flakes, such lyrics seem irrelevant. 4

Boney M Factor: Michael Bublé seems to have the blues this Xmas. Apart from the up-tempo and jazzy “Let it Snow”, we won’t be listening to these droning jams during Christmas lunch, let alone years from now! 5

Yolanda Adams: What a Wonderful Time

Sing-along Factor: Remember her heart-warming Christmas with Yolanda Adams in 2000 which we swore we would keep for to keep the ghosts of Christmas future at bay? Well, she’s back with another wonderful holiday nugget: What A Wonderful Time packed with festive favourites we all know the words to including “Jingle Bells”, “Little Drummer Boy” and the Motown holiday classic “Give Love on Christmas Day”. 9

Snow Factor: Yolanda Adams doesn’t just sing about Christmas. She includes original odes like “Hold On”, “With God” and “Just Because” spreading her love way beyond the holiday season. Verdict: an album to listen to all year-round. 9

Fruit Cake Factor: Although she includes a collection of cheesy, overdone Christmas carols she goes the extra mile by incorporating contemporary gospel, and R&B/soul flavours into her messages of strength, hope, determination, and celebrating life. This is an album you can listen to anywhere in the world, at any time. 8

Boney M Factor: She may not have a big-ass Afro or dress in ridiculous white tights like our Christmas carols legends, Boney M, but this sister sings with an attitude that is sure to keep everyone in a joyous mood this Christmas! She’s soulful, vibe-y and euphoric, and you must listen to her swinging version of “Jingle Bells”. Whether we’ll be listening to her songs decades from now, we’ll just have to wait and see. 8

Josh Groban: Noel

Sing-along Factor: No “Frosty the Snowman”? No sweat. We can still sing along to loads of Christmas faves, ranging from classic hymns such as “Silent Night” to seasonal reconciliation songs like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas. We’re not too sure about the move to splice postcards from soldiers in Iraq to their families into the mix though, Josh. 9

Snow Factor: You can definitely pack this one after Christmas, after all there is a reason it’s called Noel. 4

Fruit Cake Factor: Ohh definitely fruity, it even has the raisins to go with it. The album is enough to give you that ‘lump-in-your-throat’ feeling, especially with that ensemble choir harmonizing on Oh Come All Ye Faithful for the finale. 4

Boney M Factor: It’s the old traditional carols like What Child is This and Silent Night as we know them, a touch of some Brian McKnight and Faith Hill but that’s as ‘funky’ as it gets. Other than that we are less likely to remember it next year. 6

Patti Labelle: Miss Patti’s Christmas

Sing-along Factor: Not really. A funky rendition of “Rudolf the red nose reindeer” would’ve been a slam dunk on Lady Marmalade’s Christmas menu. Instead we get gospel carols like “Away in a Manger”. It’s cool, the lyrics are moving if you actually listen to them. And isn’t this what Christmas is ultimately about? 6

Snow Factor: Ms Patti packs just enough funk into her Christmas stocking to take this collection of soulful seasonal songs that will go beyond the mistletoe and the bells that jingle. 8

Fruit Cake Factor: Talk about a Motown Christmas, Patti has handled this album like a real Christmas Jam. Great combos of up-beat tracks that will make you shake your booty as well as a touch of some slow jams and a jazzy feel, enough to mellow you down. She definitely has the right ingredients to make you want to nibble on this over and over again. 9

Boney M Factor: She may no longer be rocking the Afro, tights or hectic glitter eye shadow but you can still move your head from side to side to tunes like Christmas Jam and the groovy It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year. 10

Scores (out of 40):

Michael Bublé – 23
Yolanda Adams – 34
Josh Groban – 23
Patti Labelle – 33

And the winner is…Yolanda Adams!

-Tiisetso Tlelima + Thobeka Linda

It’s that time of the year again: family gatherings, food galore, presents and Christmas carols. We put four Christmas albums to the ultimate test. Can they outlast our Christmas legends, Boney M?

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