Sitting in a coffee shop in Los Angeles. Christmas music playing. Suddenly, I’m hearing a Michael Buble cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” And I’m thinking, what?
Carey initially released the song in 1994, though it genuinely blew up nine years later, when “All I Want for Christmas is You” served as a musical centerpiece of the film, “Love Actually.” Either way, it’s both:
A. Not very old.
B. Perfectly done.
Lemme say that again: “All I Want for Christmas is You” is both relatively new-ish and perfectly done. Which is a strange thing for me to write, because I don’t particularly love Christmas music, and I almost never enjoy new Christmas music. You know what I mean, no? Every holiday season a bunch of singers will release their album, featuring, oh, eight timeless classics and two “new editions to the seasonal catalog.” Only the “new editions to the seasonal catalog” always (without exception) suck. Seriously, go back and look. Scan the holiday albums: Neil Diamond, Hall and Oates, Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, Kelly Clarkson, Nat King Cole. On and on and on. Sometimes mediocre, generally brutal.
Somehow, Carey figured it out, and wrote/sang a tune that has emerged as a genuine holiday classic. From the words to the message to the vocals to the instrumentation, it’s perfect.
And then, friggin’ Buble came along.
His version isn’t awful. It’s merely snappy and peppy and sorta meh. Which, truly, is awful, because you’re turning an amazing song into a puddle of blah. Which makes your album blah. Which makes you blah. Which makes me wonder, again, why Michael Buble even bothered.