Posted on December 26th, 2013 (11:00 am) by Ricky Perrotta

So every year the music appreciating public (and the music hating public, as well as the music ignoring public) are treated, and I use the term loosely, to endless Christmas music. Certain radio stations change to all-Christmas-all-the-time programming, commercials ratchet up the cheese in an obligatory attempt to invoke the holiday spirit, and just setting foot inside an apartment store is enough to increase the suicide rate (I kid, I kid).

Of course, there is no shortage of material. Everyone from Bob Dylan to Kanye West (hopefully) has or will try their hand at a Christmas album at some point. These offerings range from catastrophically corny to half-decent but rarely add up to much more than that. Well, Diplo's Mad Decent label wants to raise the bar—they hope for their Christmas sampler to be “very decent,” as pointed out by the awesomely chill title, A Very Decent Christmas.

How successful is Diplo's mix? I don't know. It's fun and yet I'm fairly ambivalent about it. It suffers largely from a lack of creativity. The tracks sound like they were recorded in about the time it takes to listen to them. Merely trotting out the (admittedly always welcome) beat from “Pon De Floor” isn't going to cut it.

It seems to get off on the right foot, with Gent & Jawns' “Turn Up Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The title is hilarious, and I was hoping it spoke to an irreverence the compilation would adopt but ultimately chose not to. Gent & Jawns create a cold, moody musical landscape for the track with haunting synths and occasionally a build ends with a “ho ho ho” sample, which is appreciated. Unfortunately, after a few listens one is bound to realize they are listening to a fairly sincere take on “God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen,” mood and all.

Diplo himself shows up for the next track, titled “Frosty Bounce,” and it is the shortest and best of the offerings. It begins with syncopated steel drums, and building, garbled bass, sounding as if its about the take the roof off the place when it drops, but instead gives way to an understated, staccato reinterpretation of “Frosty the Snowman.” What Diplo gets right is that he doesn't think he has more to work with than he really does. He nicely counters the "Frosty" melody with some clipped vocals supplied by Angger Dimas and Nicky Da B, builds it up one more time and that's it. He's in, he's out, Merry Christmas.

The following track, “RUDE-OFF 2013” by Vjuan Allure, is more indicative of the rest of the album. It features the aforementioned “Pon De Floor” beat, and that's about it. It goes on for almost five minutes! All it is is the beat and a stuttering vocal sample stating Rudolph's name over and over again. After that, the tracks wash together. Every song has the distinctive laid back, Mad Decent flow, which is fine, but I'm looking for a little candy with my cane, if you know what I mean (and I hope you don't).

Why does no one ever have the right kind of fun with a Christmas album? It needs to be ridiculous but not in a self-serious way. There's all these over-done jazzy reimaginings of Christmas songs out there and none of them get it right. The sappiness of Mitch Murder's “Don't Let Me Spend Christmas Alone”? It should soundtrack one of those grab-bag, holiday rom-coms. I thought a Mad Decent Christmas compilation would be a complete cup up, top to bottom. It should not be more tasteful than one of the imprint's regular albums. Put one of these songs on a mix, and you'll get some holiday cheer, but as a whole it's boring. What they should be doing is indulging every silly impulse, every crude joke. They should be sending up every Christmas motif. Instead, it actually wouldn't be surprising to hear one of these tracks on the all-Christmas radio.

All in all though, A Very Decent Christmas Album is probably my favorite modern Christmas album ever. Take that however you want.

Track List:
1. Gent & Jawns - Turn Up Ye Merry Gentlemen
2. Diplo - Frosty Bounce (feat. Angger Dimas and Nicky Da B)
3. Vjuan Allure - RUDE-OFF 2013
4. DJ Snake - Bird Machine (feat. Alesia)
5. Mitch Murder - Don't Let Me Spend Christmas Alone (feat. Santell)
6. Juyen Sebulba - SuperJam (Deck the Halls)
7. Astonomar - Back to the Beat (Jingle Bells Version)
8. Kennedy Jones - Came to Party on the Rooftop

A Very Decent Christmas
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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