Fa La La La La-lidays- Christmas is Here! Album Review

PC: Promotional Materials

Jamie Hartmann
Staff Writer 

A Cappella music- a genre that is not as listened to nowadays, but has immense potential of displaying an artists true musical talent. In the past three years, the quintet that makes up Pentatonix have produced three Christmas albums- “That’s Christmas to Me,” “A Pentatonix Christmas,” and “Christmas is Here!,” all showcasing a multitude of holiday songs. However, “Christmas is Here!” is a little bit different from the first two albums in song selection, musical style, and the members of the singing group.

Released on October 26, 2018, this twelve song album features varying artists, such as Kelly Clarkson and Maren Morris, making it sound more like a pop album than an a Cappella album. As well, the quintet replaced Avi Kaplan with Matt Sallee, making the group have a different sound from before. Kaplan announced this past May that he was leaving Pentatonix, due to the extraordinarily fast pace of the music industry and the fact that he needed to spend more time with his family.

Pentatonix lost a good bit of their following after this announcement, and is trying to regain speed and popularity with their new music.

With that said, this is the second album that the “new group” has released this year, covering songs that are not just Christmas and holiday songs, but also a few other sentimental pieces. The song choices of the album were not those that a typical listener would expect- songs such as “Greensleeves,” “When You Believe,” “Sweater Weather,” and “Waltz of the Flowers” are mixed in with songs such as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bells,” causing the album to have an interesting vibe that is not quite Christmasy or Autumn-like.

Kaplan was one of the main composers and rearrangers of the group, and now, though the songs sound similar, they are not the same. Sallee has a similar range to his predecessor, it adds something new to the group that has fans are  torn down the middle on.

According to Spotify, the top five most listened to songs of the group are from their past Christmas albums, beginning with their fantastic rendition of “Hallelujah,” reaching 109,249,934 plays per month. I personally do not think the level of talent and fame that was reached with Kaplan will be reached with Sallee, but only time will tell for this vocal group.  

The first song on the album, “What Christmas Means to Me,” begins in a cheery holiday fashion, capturing the listener with a more upbeat sound. As the next song, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” comes on, the song begins with Sallee beat-boxing in his own fashion, displaying both his vocal range and beat producing abilities. The song has been moved up a few keys from the traditional key, making it new and fun for the listener.

The fourth song on the album, “Grown-Up Christmas List,” features Kelly Clarkson. Although it is a softer song, it overall is too different from their typical songs that display other artists. It is not bad, but it is not the shining song on the album.

“Sweater Weather,” an original song by The Neighbourhood, seems to be an interesting pick for the lineup of songs on the album. Although the song is named Sweater Weather, it certainly does not just talk about wearing sweaters due to the chill outside. Pentatonix covered it well, but with honesty it is not outstanding from any of their others covers in any particular way.

“When You Believe,” a song from the motion picture “Prince of Egypt,” is the seventh song on the album. “Prince of Egypt” is a story about Moses and his life in Israel, which more closely correlates with Passover and Plagues of Egypt than Christmas or even Hanukkah. The song overall sounds fine, but is a misplaced fit for a Christmas album.

Wrapping up the album with a creative rendition of “Making Christmas” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Jingle Bells,”  the album overall has a good sound and appeals to active listeners of the group. It is not the first thing I would recommend a new listener to hear first, but overall does cover a widespread of songs and shows the group’s true talent and ability to make music with just their voices.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

1 reply

  1. You failed to mention my favorite, Where Are You Christmas? a song with a beautiful arrangement and gorgeous solos from several members.

    While Pentatonix lost some followers after Avi left in 2017, all their follow numbers are up on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and they had an excellent turnout for their summer tour and have almost sold out their winter tour. Matt is impressing a lot of people with his voice and his vibrant energy.


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