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It’s baaaaaaack! Arts Desk’s annual evaluation of the newest holiday music has returned. Will we be naughty or nice this year? Only time will tell.
HO HO WHO: Carly Rae Jepsen, the Canadian pop star responsible for 2012’s flirty earworm “Call Me Maybe.” If you thought Carly would quietly fade into the one-hit wonder ether, you thought wrong. In August, she released her follow-up to 2012’s KISS, E•MO•TION. It is the best album of the year, perhaps of all time. If you disagree, you are simply wrong.
SAX AND CANDY: It’s no easy feat to cover Wham!‘s classic “Last Christmas.” Like Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” it’s one of the few contemporary Christmas songs that’s actually decent. If you’re going to cover a contemporary Christmas tune, you can’t make it a straight-ahead cover, you’ve got to own it. Like the songs on E•MO•TION, Carly’s take on the Wham! classic is sugary sweet, but the star of the show isn’t Carly’s soft voice, it’s that saxophone, which hangs over the song like the star on the top of your tree.
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING: For a cover of a tune like “Last Christmas,” Carly’s singing is surprisingly restrained. Whereas George Michael‘s voice overpowers all on the original, Carly lets her soothing vocals slide into the smooth mood of the music, which hinges on an infectious synth riff that kicks off the track. The result is a cover that elevates the original to new levels of sexiness. This isn’t the “Last Christmas” cover you put on at the holiday party, it’s the one you play afterwards when you’re at home underneath the mistletoe with your special someone.
CHEER FACTOR: 10/10. Carly Rae Jepsen can do no wrong. If you disagree, you are simply wrong. [Editor’s note: Cohen does not speak for the rest of the staff.]