By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer
Once the day that follows Thanksgiving begins, many expect to hear Christmas songs play on radio stations at home and in public places such as stores and restaurants until the end of Christmas Day.
Knowing that these songs play for about one month until the time comes again for the following year, there are moments where we want to sing along or simply listen to the voices of the artists who have their Christmas songs played on air, but over the years certain songs can become quite tedious to listen to, specifically ones that are remade by singers of today’s generation.
This is when I have to put my foot down and resort to iHeartRadio’s Christmas station that plays only the classics. Christmas songs should be sung in a manner that emphasizes the emotion and power that it could potentially stir up in people, but instead seems to be used by singers today as a platform to showcase their impressive vocal range or how creative they can present the song.
For instance, the 1971 classic “Happy Xmas (War is Over)“ by John Lennon and Yoko Ono was sung by the power couple as a way to express their views on the wars and violence that was happening in the world. As a way to promote peace and love amongst communities, the song still plays as a subtle reminder in the back of our minds that this world still has yet to live in harmony.
As one of the many songs that I enjoy hearing repeatedly each year, remakes of the song by bands such as Maroon 5 are nothing in comparison to the power that Lennon, Ono, and the Harlem Community Choir were able to project together. Although sung subtly throughout the entire song by Adam Levine, the lead singer of Maroon 5, there’s a hint to one’s ears that the constant switch between his tenor and falsetto notes are just expressed in the song as a way to present his capability of being able to transition between notes effortlessly in his vocal range. Although Levine is talented in many ways, he lacks the emotion and understanding that Lennon and Ono once were able to convey through their song.
In more recent years, Mariah Carey’s 1994 original “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is another Christmas classic and popular song that still resonates with many young adults my age, including those who have connected with the melody over the years. In contrast to Lennon’s anti-war promoting tune, Carey’s song focuses more on the yearning of wanting to have that significant other for Christmas rather than a gifted object, which for some can be viewed as a thoughtful message that people may have more important wants during the holiday season.
Presented with an uplifting feeling by Carey’s incredibly strong vocal range, Fifth Harmony’s cover of the song took away the point of Carey’s original with several unnecessary vibratos. Michael Bublé’s remake of the song was much subtler in sound compared to the all-female group but is sung in a way that makes the song sound almost depressing, also defeating the purpose of the song’s true message. Bublé’s lack of hitting Carey’s high note at the end of the third chorus is all the more reason why the classic never fails to continually impress Christmas lovers until this day.
When it comes to the holiday classics, I embrace all types of music including orchestral songs that are heard quite often for certain Christmas tunes. “Carol of the Bells“ is a song that can be presented with or without vocals, and regardless of which form it takes still manages to sound appealing to the ears, but of course, only if it is composed pleasantly. David Foster’s 1993 version of the song was composed at the time as only an instrumental but holds a powerful weight of emotion just as much as Lennon and Carey were able to present in their songs.
Multiple versions of the song were composed over time, but one cover by the American progressive rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a sound that negatively puts me on the edge of my seat due to its gnarly presentation of the song. Filled with non-stop electric reverberation and what could potentially be used in a horror-action Christmas film, the rock band took the once gentle song to a whole new level, making it impossible to want to be heard every year during the holidays.
Thankfully, the soothing and beautiful voice of Karen Carpenter from The Carpenters can keep people calm as they relax at home in the chilly weather. Before the singer sadly died of heart failure due to her struggle with anorexia in 1983, Carpenter’s original 1978 classic “Merry Christmas, Darling” generates a heartwarming and longing emotion through her lyrics and vocals, something that no other artist could replicate even if they tried.
Although recreating the same sense of passion and emotion that Carpenter presented in her music would be difficult for another singer to tackle, Carpenter’s talent gave her the ability to cover Christmas classics such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” in such a beautiful manner that anyone could believe that she and her group were the original writers of these songs. Her voice continues to play over stations annually, the serenity in her tone unfailingly touching many people’s hearts with love.
There’s no doubt that different versions of several Christmas classics will continue to be produced each year, but until singers steer away from trying to use these holiday songs as a foundation for impressing their fans with their talented vocals, the classics will continue to thrive above all remakes. There are a few songs of today such as Josh Groban’s “Believe” and Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown Up Christmas List” that deserves to be played on radio stations because of the songs realistic notes that are sung, but as long as Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” somehow manages to creep onto stations, the Christmas classics will nevertheless suffice.