When I first decided to include a review of CeeLo’s new Christmas album, Magic Moment in this blog’s 12 Days of Christmas series, the intention was to provide a well rounded, thoughtful review of his festive effort, citing the smooth R & B sound throughout, CeeLo’s undeniably emotive voice which works well on The Christmas Song and Mary, Did You Know?, and the fact that he doesn’t overly rely on old standards (not that I have a problem with them at all; it’s just fun to have someone come up with their original takes on the season).
And then I heard this song …
And all I could think about was … “He sings with the Muppets! SO. MANY. MUPPETS.” … and it is, so very, very, smile-inducingly GOOD.
The song in question, “All I Need is Love”, which incorporates a healthy slab of that catchy ditty Mah Na Mah Na to glorious effect, is a group effort with a red vinyl-clad CeeLo sharing singing duties with everyone from Kermit to Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear to Gonzo and Animal, with Pepe the King Prawn delivering the coolest “Cfood” rap ever.
With the clip acting as a mini-movie of sorts, and a chance to spend six or so minutes of quality time with the Muppets after their zeitgeist-busting triumphant return to public-consciousness this year via The Muppet Movie, the song, more than anything else on the album announces itself as a feel-good, happy-clappy joyful romp that had this boy dancing around the office like a loon.
“All I Need is Love” is giddy unadulterated happiness and the clear highlight on an album which is at turns playful, sweet, sensitive and heartfelt.
While the album doesn’t engender what I like to scientifically refer to as “Christmas-ness”, it does have some moments that will definitely get you in the holiday spirit.
Opening track “What Christmas Means to Me”, where he declares that he wants is to be with his baby, is a fun upbeat R & B romp that harkens back to the big sounds of the golden age of Motown, and it’s quickly followed by a sultry version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, which while beautifully sung (with fellow The Voice judge Christina Aguilera), doesn’t hold a candle to the version of the song on Christmas Rules (aka Holiday Rules, which featured Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten trading back and forth with all the festive lustful longing you could ask for.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is really the album’s only misstep and frankly it’s not a big one.
It just needed a little more reluctance to part infused into the delivery and a little less pitch perfect singing (although both singers sound beautiful, it must be said).
“This Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” channel the smooth vibes of 1970s R & B perfectly and bring the Christmas vibe home in a big way.
His version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch” featuring Straight No Chaser) is suitably playful and Cheeky and the best follow on to “All I Need Is Love” that I can think of … right Kermie?
The aforementioned “Mary, Did You Know?”, a heartfelt cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River”, a duet with crooner Rod Stewart, “Merry Christmas, Baby” and one of the most starkly beautiful versions of “Silent Night” I have ever heard round off Magic Moments which is hands down one of the most fun, original, bold and clever Christmas albums that anyone has made in quite some time.
It’s hard to take the Christmas album genre and make it truly your own but CeeLo Green has done it in spades … and then some.
And oh yeah … HE SINGS WITH THE MUPPETS!.
’nuff said …