This year Robbie Williams finally did something I’ve been waiting for him to do for over 20 years: he released a Christmas album, appropriately entitled The Christmas Present. Not only that, it’s a double album. If you get the deluxe edition, which comes with four bonus tracks, it comes to 28 tracks total. 132 minutes of pure holiday listening joy. When you consider how many artists are releasing tiny 8 and 9 song albums these days, you might as well call it a triple album. And it’s not like he just rounded up a bunch of classics, spent a week in the studio belting them out and called it done. On the contrary, only eight of its songs are covers. (You can check out the full credits on Wiki here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Christmas_Present.)
Easily my favorite new Christmas album this year, I love that Robbie and his collaborators wrote so many new Christmas songs, such as the one I’m naming today’s song of the day, “Time for Change.” I’m a huge fan of Christmas music — ask anyone who knows me — but I tend to find albums that are mostly cover songs redundant after a while. I mean, I’ve listened to dozens of new Christmas albums this year and 91 of them included “Silent Night.” In my extensive music library, MusicBee — my player of choice — tells me that I have 467 versions of that one! I can’t imagine how many more you’d find if you searched Spotify. And I am so, so tired of that song, which, thankfully, Robbie doesn’t do. My favorites covers that he did include are a very fun rendition of Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody,” which features Jamie Cullum, “Santa Baby” — first made famous by Eartha Kitt — done as a duet with Helene Fischer, and the always exhilarating Darlene Love/Phil Spector classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” featuring Bryan Adams. (The other guests on the album are Rod Stewart, Poppa Pete and Tyson Fury.)
It’s hard to pick favorites among the original tracks because I honestly don’t find a single song on the record tiresome. Well, except for “It Takes Two,” covered with Rod Stewart, which is the final bonus track and ends things on a weird note since it’s not even a Christmas song. Unless it was in a famous Christmas movie or something and I’m just not aware of it? In any case, Stewart also duets on the original “Fairytales,” a sweet ballad to warm your heart. I’m also fond of the light-hearted “Rudolph,” which sounds like it’s based around a sample of “Carol of the Bells.” And it’s nice to hear Robbie’s sarcastic sense of humor is intact on “Bad Sharon.” Parents might feel a little awkward playing that one around the kids, as he sings, “Grab bad Sharon from the office, nick the champagne, let’s get off it” and mentions “sad sacks,” but, hey, I’d argue that “Baby (It’s Cold Outside)” is far less appropriate for kids if you’re going to shield their little ears from something. Not that I’m saying they shouldn’t hear either of these songs. I’d like to think I’d let my kids listen to the whole album if I had any.
Robbie opted not to do any religious songs here and I will say that I found that slightly disappointing. You’d think the guy who wrote “Angels” would’ve written a sweet song about the birth of Christ or something of that nature, but Jesus is only mentioned in the song “Happy Birthday Jesus Christ,” which follows “Bad Sharon” and finds him playfully singing, “the message is love / and you feel like Jesus to me.”
My message? If you only buy one new Christmas album this year, it should be this one. Or stream it on Spotify if that’s your thing: