Under The Mistletoe
And to think, we almost had to endure another Christmas season without Justin Bieber’s Auto-tuned Ontario swag ringing our sleigh bells and playfully jostling our glass tumblers full of egg nog. How we would have managed I do not know, but such fears are now decidedly moot. With Under The Mistletoe, the Prince of Long Island Mall Riots has crafted the perfect soundtrack for mitten shopping in Limited Too. This is fifty minutes of inoffensive oven baked Kringle pop that, if you’re lucky, will finally replace the copy of the Kenny G’s Miracles that haunts your mother’s stereo at this time every year.
Bieber keeps the standard count low on Under The Mistletoe, possibly because this is only his second album and he didn’t feel like forking over all his profits to the estate of Johnny Marks. We get a tender “Silent Night,” an Usher-laden “Christmas Song,” a “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” that retrofits its verse with the bass line from the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” What is JB suggesting with this latter bit? If he fancies himself the new Michael Jackson, he’s dead wrong, for MJ as a fetus had more heart and gusto in his voice than Das Biebz. Maybe Justin is trying to equate the King of Pop with Santa Claus. I can see a correlation: They’re both magical figures who live(d) in remote kingdoms surrounded by much shorter subjects. Alas, Michael was a Jehovah’s Witness, so he’d probably poo-poo any link between himself and that most famous of toy-distributing elves.
Bieber duets with Mariah Carey on her modern day Yuletide classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and it’s certainly acceptable, save the fact these two would-be lovers are separated by twenty or so years. That makes things a little…statutory. How would their careers be affected if forty-something Mariah actually did hook up with seventeen year old Bieber this Christmas? One thing’s for sure: Nick Cannon would go back to just being the loser from Drumline, and half a billion True Beliebers would be dying to turn Mariah into a canoe. Still, the Carey/Biebz courtship would transfix the globe, and if they turned it into a reality show the ratings might surpass O.J. levels.
Under The Mistletoe’s originals are exactly what you’d expect from Bieby: overproduced FM pablum that boast a neutered sexuality and the requisite Yuletide themes. The Chris Brown co-penned “Christmas Eve” only merits mention for Justin’s failed attempt to make snacking sound seductive (“Leave some cookies out, I’mma eat ’em up…”). “Mistletoe” sounds what I think I remember Disney’s Jonas Brothers sounding like—introverted acoustic bounce covered in breathy teenage desire. I don’t think the Jonai ever used vernacular like “Shawty,” though, mostly because they’re Christians from Texas. I’m not even sure Justin mentions anything about Christmas in the desperate “All I Want Is You.” He talks about snow a little…that’s pretty secular. C’mon, Bieber, where’s the cooing about frankinsense and myr?
If Under The Mistletoe will be remembered for anything in the centuries to come, it will be Justin Bieber’s cocksure hip-hop re-imagining of “Little Drummer Boy” featuring Busta Rhymes. A brief taste of the traditional rum-pum-pumming quickly gives way to a canned beat and some laughably stupid lil’ tough guy rap from the Biebz. Eventually Busta fires off a speedy verse about wearing chinchilla-based garments and being obsessed with Twitter. Look, I’d listen to Busta Rhymes rap product descriptions out of SkyMall, and while his performance here isn’t bad, the simple fact his most prominent work this year is one verse on the Justin Bieber equivalent of “Funky, Funky Xmas” does little to quell my seasonal depression. In a just world, Busta would be the one releasing 2011’s most highly-anticipated Christmas album, and Justin Bieber would be one of his interns.
According to Wikipedia, it took nineteen people to produce Under The Mistletow. All those cooks and they still couldn’t convince Justin to record a dubstep version of “Mr. Grinch” with guest vocals by Russell Brand? That seems like a missed opportunity, but I’m sure the screaming pre-teens of the world won’t care. They finally have a version of “Silent Night” they can masturbate to, at least until Justin’s metabolism catches up with him. The only thing I want for Christmas is for this kid to be frozen in carbonite so an entire generation of girls aren’t disillusioned the first time they see photos of him leaving a Waffle House sporting a few extra chins, a muffin top, and the weight of the real world on his shoulders. That’s when we’ll all really need the mistletoe.
FINAL SCORE: Two and a half Busta Rhymes verses about chincillas and Twitter (out of four).
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Tween Gender-Bending. Summer 2012.