Record review: Human Nature – The Christmas Album (2014, LP)

human nature

Human nature is roughly defined as the qualities which are common to humanity, so it comes as no surprise that this attempt at a Christmas album is the most vacuous form of crowd-pleaser. The Sydney vocal quartet’s pseudo-Motown shtick may be big in Vegas, but then so are gun crime and gambling away your kids’ inheritances, so don’t expect anything other than bitter disappointment from this album. All the obvious choices are here – ‘White Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and a particularly cringeworthy rendition of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. It has to be assumed the regularly-excellent Jessica Mauboy’s appearance on ‘Sleigh Ride’ is a record company obligation, while the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra’s choice to be a part of ‘Amazing Grace’ could be described as foolish at best. The rest just sounds like a rejected boy band at an especially bad office party. Smokey Robinson provides the only touch of class on ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’, but it’s nowhere near enough to save this album from being re-gifted. In the end, it’s the contrivance that rankles most; nothing says Christmas like a bunch of soulless, insincere crooners flaccidly warbling their way through such an obvious attempt at lining their pockets. My IQ is lower, I feel like a lesser person and I may have nightmares after listening to this album. For the love of Santa’s sack, don’t let the same thing happen to you. (Sony)

Record review: Leona Lewis – Christmas, With Love (2013, LP)

Leona Lewis

Wow, Noddy Holder must really be quaking in his boots. The Slade frontman has more and more competition every year for the title of most-played Christmas song, with close to a dozen major artists taking a stab at the dying art this year. Leona Lewis isn’t going to trouble the ’70s legend with this substance-light ten-song collection of festive standards though, and you have to wonder why one of the most successful former X-Factor winners is lowering herself to make such a crappy record. Then you realise which record company she’s signed to, and the unmistakable whiff of Simon Cowell becomes as clear as day (Lewis is signed to the mogul’s Syco label); it’s easy to imagine him looking at the Christmas charts with glowing dollar signs in his eyes. Lewis has a strong and soulful voice, but listening to the cheesy schmaltz on this album made me want to tear down the tree, set fire to the tinsel, drop-kick the turkey off the balcony and cancel Christmas forever. Opener ‘One More Sleep’ is a dire start and probably the low point of the album, while ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘White Christmas’ are almost as painful but at least allow Lewis to flaunt her impressive vocal range. ‘O Holy Night’ makes a slight improvement, but then the horror of ‘Ave Maria’ drags the record back into the gutter. Perhaps Christmas albums shouldn’t be taken seriously, but this one is just another piece of evidence in the case against television talent shows. (Syco/RCA)