Japanese, Reviews

Kristmas From Korea: K’s Merry Christmas Album (Review)

December 21, 2009 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Kristmas From Korea: K’s Merry Christmas Album (Review)on Twitter

I first told you about this guy when we reviewed his amazing Traveling Song album earlier this year. He’s K, and he’s a Korean J-pop singer whose quirky style and combination of Japanese and English vocals had me hooked from the start.  This time he’s doing the Christmas thing in both English and Japanese, and I have to say that it’s a whole lot of fun.

I’m not quite sure whether to call this an album or a mini-album, as there are only six tracks totaling about 24 minutes of music, but I thought it’d be a good time to tell you about it in any case. With Christmas around the corner, K’s Merry Christmas is definitely a different take on your traditional Christmas music.

Find out what I mean in our review of K’s Christmas album, Merry Christmas, after the jump!

First of all, these aren’t your typical Christmas songs. There are plenty of references to Christmas here, but don’t expect the standard “Jingle Bells” and “Noel.” The album does, however, feature some arrangements of some more obscure Christmas music, and sports a very Christmas-y sound with a lovely doo-wop/a cappella “caroling choir” and lots of Christmas jingle bells and bell trees. There’s a nice warmth provided by the bass notes from the choir, and the simplicity of K using only his voice in most cases creates a rather intimate atmsophere.

Merry Christmas opens with the upbeat “Wonderful Christmastime,” a bouncy take on Paul McCartney’s Christmas track, “Wonderful Christmas.” I love the funky bass provided by the choir, and overall, the arrangement is a nice update of the original. Next, K ventures into Japanese territory with “Twilight Avenue,” which, as far as I can tell, is an original track created for this album. It plods along more slowly than the previous track, taking its time and coming off as more of a chilly winter ballad.

“First Christmas” combines Japanese and English lyrics, working in elements of “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” The finger-snapping percussion and doo-wap sound of the choir again lends the piece a bouncy feel that put me in a cheery Christmas mood. Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” from the 1970s is up next, and it’s made even more smooth by K who turns it into an awesome ballad. Actually, the way K sings this one, I can’t help but think this version would be perfect with our own Dale North’s voice layered over the top of the sleek musical arrangement. These two are probably my favorites of the bunch.

We’re back to Japan for the last two tracks, “Christmas Day” and “Only Human,” which must be originals based on the credits in the booklet. Both are slow ballads, with “Christmas Day” taking a catchy pop approach with its chorus section and “Only Human” taking a turn for classical towards the end with an amazing a cappella rendition of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” This comes as a nice little surprise to close out the album, leaving you with a warm feeling inside.

And there you have it. Only 24 minutes of music, but a lot of fun and a lot of Christmas cheer in between. I love that K has taken some obscure Christmas tunes and reinvented them in a way that fits his style, and the original tracks here, while slow, still keep the Christmas vibe going strong. I highly recommend adding this one to your Christmas music collection as it’s something very different and is sure to turn some heads at your holiday party!

Is it just me, or does it seem like it’s an extremely difficult thing for artists to create new Christmas songs that really stick? It’s kind of a shame, because there’s only so many times you can repeatedly listen to the “true” Christmas classics. Are you interested in checking out K’s accompaniment to this special time of year?

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