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HO HO WHO: Engelbert Humperdinck, also known by me as “Humpy” or “The Dincker,” is an elderly British balladeer who burst onto the music scene in the 1960s as the easy-listening antidote to the sonic upheaval represented by The Beatles. The Dincker has spent the past 50 years standing proudly athwart modern trends in music, refusing to either rock or roll. Warmest Christmas Wishes, his new album, continues his pleasantly square recording streak. Keep on keeping on, Humpy!
WAKE UP CALL: “A Christmas for the Family,” one of two new songs on Warmest Christmas Wishes, is the only holiday song I know of that captures the feeling of being prematurely awoken on Christmas morning by an excitable child. “Is everyone awake? Is everyone awake? Is everyone awake? It’s Christmas!” sings Humpy in the song’s outro, over and over and over, and while the lyrics made me laugh at first, after subsequent listens they won me over. We’ve musically commemorated every other conceivable Christmas experience, after all, from seeing three ships to getting run over by a reindeer to being cuckolded by Santa. It’s about time that this particular experience made it into a song.
OLD MAN WINTER: While it’s impressive that Humperdinck is still recording new material at such an advanced age, there’s not much tone left in his voice. The Dincker sounds worn out throughout the song, perhaps because he is 82 years old, or perhaps because he is so fixated on waking everyone else up that he has himself been unable to sleep.
CHEER FACTOR: 8/10. “A Christmas for the Family” is a fully orchestrated, lushly recorded carol that checks every box on your holiday cliché bingo card. Excessively tinkly bells? Check! A jolly, high-pitched chorus piping in during the refrain? Check! You’ll hate it after you’ve heard it 1000 times, but for now it still qualifies as both merry and bright.