December is here, which means that it is finally socially acceptable to start listening to Christmas music.
As for me, Christmas music is a year-long entity in my life; and by Christmas music, I mean Michael Bublé’s 2011 Christmas album. The gift that keeps on giving, this album is Bublé’s take on some of the season’s most popular tunes. 15 songs (technically 16, if you count the 8-second “Christmas Welcome Message”) in total – it is time for the Pop Culture Guru to rank them.
15) Jingle Bells
It’s a shame that maybe the most well-known song on this album is easily Bublé’s worst output. Featuring the Puppini Sisters – a vocal trio that looks like they came here in a time machine straight from the Roaring 20s – this adaptation is clunky at best and disgustingly bad in reality.
14) Silent Night
*Sigh* God damn, this one is boring. I thought the point of this album was to modernize and reinvent some Christmas songs, but Bublé sounds like he can barely stay awake by the time the first chorus comes around. If you can somehow make it all the way to the children’s choir part, I applaud you.
13) Santa Baby — or should I say, Santa “Buddy”
This is frankly a pretty bad song in general, and there’s not much Bublé can do to fix it. I just don’t think it should have been on the album in the first place.
12) I’ll Be Home for Christmas
While we are provided with a masterclass in the art of anticipation here, it just never really gets going. I counted five moments where the music swelled up and it seemed like something big was coming, but Bublé failed to deliver on every occasion. I’ll forgive him, though.
11) Ave Maria
In terms of technical vocal performance, one could argue that this is actually Bublé’s best work. The song itself, though, just isn’t exciting enough to keep me interested.
10) Holly Jolly Christmas
Not much to note here. Efficiently gets the job done, but there’s very little of the patented Bublé pizazz we’ve all come to expect.
9) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Bublé has long been considered the heir of Frank Sinatra, and that assessment is most relevant here. Bublé himself has stated that he resents the comparison for reasons I don’t really understand, but all I know for sure is that this performance is a triumphant one. I will admit that it does kind of slog on, though.
8) Blue Christmas
Bublé takes on Elvis Presley here in an absolute tour de force performance. This is the soulful Bublé that fans fell in love with, and a definite breath of fresh air on the album since it comes right after “Silent Night.”
7) It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
This one kicks off the album, and starts us all on the journey to our respective destinies. It effectively opens the door into a wondrous world of crooning and passion that makes all my wishes come true… baby all I want for Christmas is you (that’s a little sneak peak of a song toward the top of the list).
6) Mis Deseos/Feliz Navidad
It was a long and painful decision to leave this one outside the top 5. Duetting with Mexican singer Thalia, Bublé flexes his linguistic capabilities by rotating between the Spanish and English versions of the song. Not much on this album beats the transition into the first chorus here. However, about three minutes in, we have to listen to some out of place background audience that just completely takes away from the once-marvelous vocal essence of the song.
5) Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This is where things get really good. We get Bublé whispering a verse, chaotically screaming a verse, and delivering a verse with an unmatched amount of emotion. It is him at his most dynamic, amplified by a heroic trumpet solo in the middle (to be clear – the trumpet player is someone in Bublé’s entourage, not Bublé himself. He’s not that dynamic, don’t worry).
4) Cold December Night
Probably the catchiest one on the list, Bublé ropes us in here with his two most obvious qualities: charisma and charm. As the sleigh bells jingle on in the background, Bublé masterfully navigates his way around a song that fits his traditional vocal tendencies perfectly. It’s an absolute joy to listen to.
3) White Christmas
This is another duet that works. Working with his good friend Shania Twain (all speculation), it’s easy to visualize Bublé having a lot of fun here. Let me set the scene for you, because it all feels very holiday movie-esque: Bublé and Twain are struggling street performers who, after losing everything, give this career-defining performance. The crowd begins as just one middle-aged man lightly tapping his foot before slowly expanding until all of New York City is watching them in excitement. By song’s end, they have still not earned any money, but they have earned something much stronger – holiday cheer.
2) All I Want for Christmas Is You
Here Bublé takes on the daunting task of covering Mariah Carey. While his Herculean effort unfortunately comes up just short, he more than holds his own with this soulful expedition. Once those wind chimes kick in after the first verse, it’s impossible to turn away. All I want for Christmas is you, Mr. Bublé.
1) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Since 2011, this song has been echoing through my brain 24 hours a day. Listening to this song is no longer merely a desire of mine, but a necessity. From the opening chords to the final words that gently escape from Mr. Bublé’s lips, this is an absolutely entrancing performance. It is the album-defining track, and the reason we keep crawling back to him each and every year.