My first thought when firing up Spotify this morning:
"Oh look - Keira Knightley's released a Christmas album!"
She's so talented.
My second thought:
"I HAVE to hear this."
And so began 40 plus minutes of Christmas-tinted audio pain. Here are my thoughts, track by track, on Justin Bieber's new
holiday house sports car diamond-encrusted X Box album Under the Mistletoe.
1. Only Thing I Ever Get For Christmas
With lyrics like "If you're the only thing I ever get for Christmas / Then everything I wished for has come true", I can only assume this song is Justin's ode to his new Nintendo DS3D. Sweet.
Lots of acoustic guitar and an Aguilera Genie in a Bottle style beat. Sounds like Justin Timberlake, but with less grinding and Cristal and more hand holding and egg-nog.
RATING: 3 out of 5, but only because it reminds me of N Sync.
Imagine Jason Mraz went to a friend's birthday party at a fancy restaurant like, let's say The Ivy, and had one too many glasses of Dom Perignon before driving home and accidentally ran someone over and permanently injured them, and then was dragged into legal proceedings so expensive he was forced to sell his house, his car and all his possessions to defend himself, and finally after a five year court battle he was free but bankrupt and homeless, and was forced to stand on the street corner in the snow ringing bells and singing I'm Yours for change.
Now imagine Justin Bieber doing an impression of that. THAT is what this song is like.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5, because I like the idea of that happening to Jason Mraz.
3. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
The first 23 seconds of this song transported me back to 1994, a year in which my friends were completely obsessed with Mariah Carey and Boyz 2 Men and every single song in the entire universe started with a swoosh of chimes and that weird whistling noise.
And then Bieber added about 57 extra syllables to the word "fire" and I blacked out.
RATING: 2 out of 5, due to head injuries. Bonus point awarded for this version I found on YouTube (below) which altered the pitch apparently in order to avoid copyright claim. I prefer it.
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This one kicks off with Justin exuberantly shouting "SANTA'S COMIN', GIRL!" which is either a joyous expression of yuletide, or the producers have somehow accidentally recorded a clip of his Christmas-themed bedroom adventures with Selena Gomez.
What follows is Justin shrieking "yeahhh, yeahhy yeahhh" in autotune over a blatant rip off of the jangly guitar from I Want You Back, resulting in what sounds like a robot version of The Jackson Five.
The thing is, the Jackson Five already did the robot thing. And it was awesome.
In conclusion: if you want to punish yourself for exactly three minutes and 37 seconds, this is the track for you.
RATING: 1.5 out of 5. Bonus half a point awarded for the official music video, in which it appears Santa Claus is actually Conan O'Brien.
5. Fa La La
I love how Justin Bieber is so WHOLESOME, you know? He's so sexually non-threatening and PURE. That's why his songs have lyrics about giving and receiving.
Give it, give it, give it all
One through 10 on your list you can get it,
Get it, get it, get it now
What? He's talking about PRESENTS, GUYS. (Just don't ask what items 6 and 9 are on her list).
Despite these suggestive lyrics, I don't think parents really have anything to worry about. Justin's clearly not mature enough to write truly explicit imagery, which is why he yells "I WANNA PUT MY EAR TO YOUR CHEST GIRL!" in the chorus.
Apparently her heart "sings to him" like "fa la la". I'm fairly sure a heart isn't supposed to do that, and could be indicative of angina. Better cut down on the Christmas pudding.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5, because Boyz 2 Men are in it.
6. All I want for Christmas is You (SuperFestive!)
When I first saw this in the track listing all I could see was "All I Want For Christmas Feat. Mariah" and my heart leapt, because how great would that duet be?
Unfortunately they meant Mariah Carey, which is more "SuperDisappointing!" than "SuperFestive!" as it means we'll never hear lyrics such as "I don't want a lot for Christmas / there's just one thing I need / A DNA TEST!"
You can fast forward the first 27 seconds which is just Justin and Mariah having an argument in scat over who is more Christmassy, in which it is impossible to tell either of them apart and sounds like this: "Ba-ba-ba-ba-doooo!" / "Ooh-ee-ooh-bee-doo-bee-dooooo!" / "DOOOO-doo-doo doo-doo-doooooo-ee-oooo!"
Then they play Mariah's original CD single from 1995 for a bit, and Justin joins in. It sounds like Christmas morning in the Bieber household, and little Justin received a karaoke machine! Now he can sing all his favourite Mariah hits!
RATING: 4 out of 5, because everyone knows this is the best Christmas novelty pop tune ever, and not even Bieber can spoil it.
This video says it's Bieber, but it's actually Mariah. OR IS IT? WHo can tell.
7. Drummer Boy
Written by Katherine K Davis in 1941, The Little Drummer Boy is a haunting ode to the birth of our lord Jesus seen through the eyes of a lowly peasant boy who is summoned to the manger and, without a gift to give, plays his drum.
Justin Bieber's version features Busta Rhymes rapping about receiving Twitter messages on his Blackberry.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate the selflessness and goodwill of Christmas than by dropping a few brand names into a shitty rap and listening to the registers ka-ching.
Fortunately, Biebs counteracts this overt consumerism with a poignant rap of his own about giving canned food to charity. You know, after you've opened your presents and shit.
Sample lyric: "Playin for the king, playin for the title / I'm surprised you didn't hear this in the Bible / I'm so tight, I might go psycho / Christmas time so here's a recital."
RATING: 5 out of 5. Top marks for comedy value. This will be the track all the hipsters play ironically on Christmas day.
(As a side note - I know the little drummer boy was poor but seriously, a woman has just given birth in a barn and you want to stand around beating a drum? BUGGER OFF.)
8. Christmas Eve
How to write a Christmas song, by Justin Bieber.
Step 1: Write the words "mistletoe", "Santa Claus", "magical", "sleigh", "snow", "tree" and "cliche" onto slips of paper and put them into a hat.
Step 2: Pull words out of hat one by one and sing them through Autotune, adding a few extra syllables to every third word.
Step 3: Make lots of money.
Also, remember what I said before about Bieber and sexual imagery? He hasn't gotten any more subtle with it:
Them sleigh bells is ringing
I'll be up all night with you
Them carols are singing
I'm ENTERING THE TOP OF YOUR ROOF?
But is he snatching their people up?
RATING: What did I give the first song? Because this is just that with slightly different music.
9. All I Want Is You
Justin's all alone at Christmas, wrapping presents and putting the tree up by himself, and he's desperately sad because he's 17 years old and has stacks of cash and multiple opportunities for random sexual encounters.
RATING: This song made me long for U2, which I think means it gets zero.
10. Home This Christmas
If you want to sell a bazillion copies of a pop album in America, you have to put at least one country song on it. It's mandatory. I think it's actually in the constitution, right after the bit about "bearing arms".
On this album that's where some outfit called The Band Perry steps in which is not, as I assumed, Katy Perry's unfortunately-named southern cousin.
The Band Perry.
I'm guessing they're a country group, as this song is full of twangs and yowling and hay chewin'. Or mistletoe chewin', given Justin is once again waiting under some in the lyrics. Seriously, is he growing this shit hydroponically or what? He'd have to, with all that snow around. How do you grow mistletoe anyway?
RATING: I am losing the will to live.
11. Silent Night.
Sadly, a misnomer.
RATING: 1 out of 5. Point given for comedy value of Justin singing about a virgin.
12. Christmas Love
Remember poor old homeless Jason Mraz shaking his bells, trying to raise a buck on the street corner? He's back. And his lyrics have gotten worse.
I'm under the mistletoe
You are the one for my very own Christmas love
Tell Santa I'm cool this year
My present is standing right here.
I know this album is called "Under the Mistletoe", but seriously?
RATING: 2 out of 5. Only because I feel sorry for Jason Mraz.
13. Fa La La (a cappella version)
Hey, Justin. If I want to listen to LESS of a song, I'll just turn the volume down.
RATING: 0 out of 5. Are you kidding me? I just sat through this shit eight songs ago.
After all this mistletoe and rapping about mobile phones Justin turns his attention to really important things - like children crying, soldiers dying, and people who just don't have a home.
Luckily, all he has to do is close his eyes and he can see a better day. Funny, when I close my eyes all I see is black. Which leads me to the conclusion that Justin Bieber is a nihilist, and can see no end to the struggle and pain of humanity other than the inky blackness of eternal sleep. CHRISTMASSY!
RATING: 3 out of 5, just for lyrics like "I pray for the ones not breathing". Probably too late if they're not breathing, Justin.
15. Someday at Christmas
Either Justin had some invasive genital surgery between this track and the last, or this is an old clip of him singing from when he was 12 or something.
I'm guessing it's the latter, although god knows why he thinks we'd want to hear him chirping like a mouse in a Disney film. It's like trying to impress your new girlfriend by showing her photos of you weeing in the bath aged three. Not. Cool.
Also, what's with the title? Someday? Or at Christmas? WHEN, BIEBER, WHEN?
RATING: 4 out of 5, but only because I bet his mum suggested it and Justin probably regrets it now.