Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Music Review: Christmas is Here! by Pentatonix

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun arrangements of some great songs
Cons: I don't like "Sweater Weather" or "What Christmas Means to Me."
The Bottom Line:
Pentatonix sings
Christmas songs; fresh arrangements
December delight

More Christmas Magic with Pentatonix

Every time I see that Pentatonix has a new Christmas release coming, I get very excited.  This year, we get Christmas is Here!, and fans won't be disappointed.

Over the course of this disc, they offer their takes on some traditional Christmas carols.  We get "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," and "Here Comes Santa Claus."  All three are full of upbeat fun as only Pentatonix can provide.  They also offer a version of newer Christmas classic "Grown-Up Christmas List" featuring an appearance by Kelly Clarkson.  They've even included non-lyrical tracks here for "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker and "Greensleeves," which is the melody we all know from "What Child is This?"  The harmonies on this last song make it my favorite.

The disc opens with "What Christmas Means to Me."  If it feels familiar to you, there's a reason for that.  It reminds me in many ways of the track "That's Christmas to Me," which they recorded several years ago.  And my complaint about this one is the same I had then - it leaves out a huge part of my Christmas celebration - the birth of Jesus.  Those who don't celebrate that part will probably enjoy this track more than I do.

They also offer a couple of Christmas adjacent tracks.  The first of these is "Sweater Weather."  Honestly, I don't get this song yet.  It's talking about colder weather, the beach in Southern California, and some references to a couple in some intimate moments.  It's more a kaleidoscope about a relationship than anything else.  But what does it have to do with sweaters?  Needless to say, it isn't my favorite track.

But they follow it up with "When You Believe."  While not traditionally a Christmas song, the themes of faith certainly fit the season.  This track features Maren Morris and is so beautiful to listen to.

They also cover a couple of songs from movies here.  The first of these is "Making Christmas" from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  I've not a big fan of this movie, but I still recognized the song right away.  They do an amazing job arranging of singing it, and I think I find it so much funnier out of the context of the movie.  They also tackle "Where Are You Christmas" from the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch.  This is a beautiful ballad that I am thrilled to have in my Christmas collection.

They finish things off with "Jingle Bells," but this isn't a traditional take on the song, but the version I first heard sung by Barbra Streisand.   Their spin on it is delightfully fun.  They do have an orchestra helping them on the track, but it isn't overpowering; their vocal performances are still on full display.  It's a great way to end the disc.

There is a reason that Pentatonix continues to sell so well, and you'll find it on Christmas is Here!  This is a great addition to your Christmas music collection.

CD Length: 32:37
1. What Christmas Means to Me
2. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
3. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
4. Grown Up Christmas List (with Kelly Clarkson)
5. Greensleeves (Interlude)
6. Sweater Weather
7. When You Believe (with Maren Morris)
8. Waltz of the Flowers
9. Here Comes Santa Claus
10. Making Christmas
11. Where Are You, Christmas?
12. Jingle Bells (with Orchestra)

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