Two Canadians. Two holiday albums. First, Under the Mistletoe, the much tweeted-about holiday debut from Stratford, Ontario’s Justin Bieber; and Second, Christmas, the Yuletide offering from Vancouver’s Michael Bublé.
Which of these deserves heavy rotation and which belongs with grandma’s fruitcake? Let the showdown begin!
Ever since Bing Crosby and Doris Day sang “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” duets have made for some of the best holiday ditties. Though Bublé has the ultimate Canuck offering, a duet with Shania Twain on “White Christmas,” The Biebs has this category locked down. Not only does he collaborate with Boys II Men on “Fa La La” (nothing makes us think of ’90s childhood holidays more) and Mariah Carey on yet another version of “All I Want for Christmas is You,” but alongside none other than rapper Busta Rhymes, he throws down the freshest “Little Drummer Boy” we’ve ever heard—the best version of the 1941 classic since Crosby harmonized with David Bowie in 1977.
Best Shout-Out To Canada
In his rendition of “Santa Baby,” Bublé urges Saint Nick to “fill my stocking with Canucks ticks, for kicks. Throw me on the first line.”
Best Take On A Classic
Merry as they are, there’s nothing terribly original about Bieber’s take on “The Christmas Song” or “Silent Night.” Justin’s still-youthful vocals just aren’t as Christmas-y as Bublé’s. On “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the B.C. boy puts that classic Sinatra-esque voice to excellent use with a drawn-out heart-tugging intro and jazzy instrumentation.
Best Original Holiday Song
The mark of a truly special Christmas album is one that succeeds in creating a new classic. (And no, ’N Sync’s “Merry Christmas Happy Holiday” doesn’t qualify.) Bublé’s “Cold December Night” is certainly a catchy addition to any December playlist, but Bieber’s “Mistletoe” has more legs as a standout single. It’s got a catchy Bruno Mars acoustic vibe, and what it lacks in traditional Christmas percussion, it makes up for in sentiment: “The wise men followed the star, the way I follow my heart.” Aww.
In true polite Canadian fashion, it’s a tie: Whether you’re in the mood for classic Christmas (Bublé) or pop-driven contemporary holiday (Bieber), you’re covered. And if you can stomach Christmas music the second week of November, either of these compilations are excellent accompaniments to your mulled wine or mint hot chocolate.