Is it just me or are the Christmas albums coming earlier this year? Joining the group of festive releases this year is Canadian superstar Justin Bieber with an album of yuletide cheer called Under The Mistletoe. The 15 track collection combines seasonal favourites and some newly written jems as well.
Say what you want about Bieber, but there’s no denying that this young man can sing. And judging by the number of co-writing credits, he’s developing into a crafty songwriter as well. Of the new tracks, Only Thing I Ever Get For Christmas, the first single Mistletoe and Fa La La with Boyz II Men are the best of the bunch, but the reality is that Under The Mistletoe is a solid hook-laden R&B album (Christmas themed or not) with no filler. Bieber holds his own singing along with Mariah Carey, the Band Perry and Usher, while creating a new market for Canadian R&B, a music style nearly non-existent with Canuck record labels.
Of the Christmas classics, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town drips of Jackson 5 ooze, while All I Want For Christmas Is You (Superfestive!) is a courageous version of the Mariah masterpiece – but no matter how good this one becomes, nothing can top the original, even with Mariah’s help.
Drummer Boy with Busta Rhymes is the one of the most original and relevant versions of The Little Drummer Boy ever recorded. It’s absolutely fun and could easily be a song that families can enjoy together, bringing classic words and melody with a modern beat and rhyme. Unlike the priceless fireplace version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, this one celebrates the drum and the beat, rather than the tradition.
Bieber fans will be curling up to the fireplace with earbuds in tow from now until the big day, but sadly, like all Christmas records, the album serves no purpose beyond November and December. I can’t imagine Mistletoe or Fa La La in anyone’s summer playlist, but for this year and all the Christmases to come, Bieber will be there crooning away.
It’s a well-written, excellently produced and exciting Christmas album from one of the best young voices in the history of Canadian music. If this is the sound and direction Bieber is going (Christmas theme aside), there'll be no stopping him.