Friday, December 02, 2011

I Like Your Singing Except at Christmas

Have you noticed that some people who make Christmas Albums just shouldn't? Do you feel that way? Not because they are bad or "sound" bad--on the contrary, most Christmas Albums by famous singers sound pretty darn good. I mean, I couldn't sing that well! But for a small percentage, it just doesn't work. Lemme 'splain.

Listening to Sissel sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is heavenly. It's literally like angels. Pure angels. But when I listen to Renee Flemming singing with the MoTab, it sounds like an opera singer singing Christmas music. *shrug

Listening to some of Andrea Bocelli's Christmas music, it sounds, again, heavenly. But Josh Groban's? It's so affected (and I'm saying this as a huge Josh Groban fan, so you know I'm not making this up) and doesn't have the same spirit about it.

Barbra Streisand and Christmas = fun, but not heavenly.
Amy Grant (who, arguably, is not nearly as good as Babs) = both

Why is this? It's about motive and personal testimony, I'm guessing. Also life experience. Personal feelings. Motivation. I'm a huge believer that most musicians can make fantastic and outstanding music, but what separates Christmas music (and other special kinds? maybe?) from the rest is a profound deep, and personal tie to what they are singing about. Especially when they are singing about Jesus Christ and not just snow.

Using my examples above:

Renee Flemming is a world-renowned opera singer and I've been told that she is quite the diva. Sissel, on the other hand, although met with equal success, is not a household name. She's also very humble (again, I've been told. By an insider who has met her). She sings from her heart with pure joy --and it sounds like it.

Andrea has been met with difficult personal tragedies in his life (losing his sight, losing his father, etc.) and I believe that can illicit amazing faith. Josh is young and fairly privileged --not to say he doesn't understand or sympathize or empathize with pain --and he's not super religious.

Barbra isn't Christian. Interesting that she made a Christmas album. Hmmm.
Amy Grant is a Christian. When she sings about Christ, you can feel her testimony.

Does that make sense? And just saying --Bryn Terfel is one of the most fantastic bass-baritones I've ever heard, but he definitely sings his Christmas music as if it's from his soul, too; it doesn't feel affected or too showy.

Anyway, what do you think? And I am talking about Christmas music. I mean, when Babs sings anything else, I love it. Same with Josh. Even Renee!


Stephanie said...

I LOVE Sissel singing with MoTab. Sometimes, we listen to it in the middle of the Summer, Spring or Fall, just for fun. I don't really like most of the non-religious stuff, like Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer or Rudolph. They get on the nerves

Rebecca said...

I'm not familiar with most of these singers. Even the ones I do know, I haven't heard much of their Christmas stuff. I'm not a Streisand fan, but I did enjoy her in Yentl. That's a propos nothing, except that she's Jewish, so it is kind of weird that she made a Christmas album.

Speaking of kind of weird, that picture of Bryn Terfel kind of gives me the creeps. No offense to him. It's a very nice scarf.

Judi said...

Disagree...sorry. I love when Josh Groban sings anything. Makes me feel warm inside...but you know me...I love anything Christmas!

Michelle said...

I agree with you. It feels like some people sing for show. Some of my favorite singers are ones I don't really like listening to at Christmas because it just feels more like getting on the bandwagon for another album. Meh.

I listened to someone perform last nite and had some of the same feelings. It was more about the voice and all the new 'flair' rather than letting the beauty of the songs shine through. I think that is part of it for me. People take songs that have been sung for years and years (sometimes centuries) and try to make them too 'unique' and then you sort of don't hear the song anymore, but their voice/style.

Again, meh.


I love everything about this post and agree 100% with what you wrote about Christmas music. As I read, I hoped you would mention Bryn. That guy can sing me to sleep every night!

Cheryl said...

Josh Groban's Christmas album is my favorite! Don't love Babs, love Amy Grant. I like Andrea Bocelli, but there is something wrong about his singing "Blue Christmas"...just wrong!

flip flop mama said...

I haven't heard most of the other artists--except for Josh Groban sing Christmas music but I'm inclined to agree with you. Except for Josh Groban. I do like his Christmas album. There's something forced about most people singing Christmas music.

Dorri said...

I love to hear Amy Grant sing Christmas music, but I also love Martina McBride's Chirstmas music. As for everyone else not actually sure I've heard their Chirstmas music. Guess it's time to widen my Chirstmas music library.

Amanda D said...

I quite like most of the songs on the Josh Groban Christmas cd. I agree with you though - some people shouldn't attempt Christmas music to make money. In HS I was a big Boyz II Men fan, so I bought their Christmas CD and I was SO disappointed. I was quite disappointed with the Gladys Knight and the Saints Unified Choir Christmas CD too.

Does this mean you wont be in a hurry to download Justin Beiber's Christmas album? :)

The Atomic Mom said...

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas music, for the same reasons. Today in the grocery they were playing some country music person's Christmas CD. I just about gouged out my ears with some spaghetti noodles.