Blake Shelton doesn’t add anything new to the genre of Christmas CDs with his Cheers, It’s Christmas, but he doesn’t detract from it either. What he does give you is a CD that’s loaded with some old standards as well as a few new holiday tunes. Blake does these favorites good, though it was a little off-putting to hear him sing ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ That song is so identified in my mind with Bing Crosby that when Shelton’s Oklahoma twang came on I was immediately turned off to the tune. After a few listens, though, I got used to this Okie making it his own. Shelton also modifies his own hit ‘Home’ to fit the Christmas theme. Most notable on the album are the songs ‘Santa’s got a Choo Choo Train’ and another home-themed song, ‘Time for Me To Come Home.’
‘Choo, Choo’ is a fun little diddy about a snowed in town at Christmas time that looks like it will go without any holiday magic from that jolly old elf, until, Santa pulls up in long iron horse. This song, by title, brings to mind The Tractors ‘Santa Clause is Coming in a Boogie-Woogie Choo-Choo Train’; however, the two are completely unrelated. Shelton’s ‘Choo Choo’ has more of the feel of a children’s special. I expect that it will become a standard in some country places at holiday time as its tone makes for a good line dance or two-step. ‘Time for Me to Come Home’ was written by Shelton’s mom, Dorothy Shackleford. I hadn’t heard of her before and wondered who the heck she was. I thought that she was maybe a long-ago classic country artist that I had missed. With a name like Dorothy Shackleford, she sure sounded like one and when she sings she does, too. The song is about getting home to your momma; speaking about all the things that are special about going home:
The pies are in the oven/
You can almost taste the air/
And it warms my heart/
To feel her love/
And know how much she cares
Dorothy isn’t the only collaborator on Shelton’s album. He pairs up Kelly Clarkson, Pistol Annies, Xenia, wife Miranda Lambert, Trypta-Phunk, Michael Blublé and the first redhead of country, Reba McEntire on the album. The Malibu Country star joins up with Shelton for an ‘Oklahoma Christmas,’ written by Jenee Fleenor, Rob Byus and the ever so handsome Trent Willmon. McEntire and Shelton croon through a tune that sounds like it was made for a Christmas variety special, which happens to be something that Shelton did this season.
Christmas brought us the Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas. As the special started, I saw that it was rated TV PG for language and violence. I thought to myself what could be violent or language inappropriate for a Christmas Special. Then, the “tiny tots” and Shelton started swearing—bleeped out, of course—during his performance of ‘The Christmas Song’ with a cheeky, corny, elf-themed skit. I thought to myself, ‘Boy, I’m gonna need a drink to watch this thing.’ But as the special moved from opening over-the-top comedy to the more traditional song performances, it got better. Comedy bits were interspersed: Shelton reading to kids who keep interrupting him with ‘why’ questions; Kelly Clarkson thinking she was in a competition; Shelton selling a red duct-taped “just like The Voice” chair. While they all provided something different from the typical holiday special, I don’t think that Bob Hope’s legacy faces any threat from Shelton’s efforts. I will say that Shelton is a naturally gifted ham. He mugs well in his ‘Just Like The Voice Chair “commercial”’ and his annoyance with the director and direction of ‘The Christmas Song’ skit at the start of the show was genuine. He acted that part well. Shelton may want to give some thought to following in Reba’s footsteps and doing some acting.
Getting back to the CD, I was very pleased to see that the CD booklet contained some photos in it. While I’m not one to swoon for Shelton (I’m more of an Adam Levine fan), those that do will enjoy the photos; especially the one on the back of the booklet. It even made me take a little more notice.
Cheers to Shelton for putting together a pretty good holiday CD.
Music Review: Phil Vassars Noel