Release Date: June 25th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Release Date: September 10th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
That’s Christmas to Me
Label: RCA Records / Sony Music Entertainment
A Hollens Family Christmas Deluxe
Label: One Voice Productions
I think I’ve said this many times throughout the time that this site has been online. But now I’ll say it again. All throughout my life, I’ve been sheltered. Jon too. Mainly because we were born 3 months premature and hence our parents wanted to keep us at home and make sure we were super healthy and not exposed to anything that could and would hinder our development in any way possible. We never went to pre-school, and Mum never worked at all for the 5 years that both Jon and I were at home before kindergarten. I know, it may seem like a pretty intense and drastic measure- but hey, that’s what Mum and Dad were feeling at the time, and I absolutely cannot fault them for raising me and Jon the way they did. I have so much thanks and gratitude towards them, and there’s so many things in my life that are great, all because Mum and Dad were present during the formative years of my life. I think that I’ve actually had a pretty great childhood- but then again I’m not comparing my childhood to anything, so perhaps I’m biased? Anyway, as I was saying- both Jon and I were sheltered, through no fault of our own… but this meant that Mum and Dad were a bit hesitant in letting us try new things. From my own recollection from what Mum and Dad have told me, Jon had to be ‘forced’ every type of food for the first time, otherwise all he’s be eating would be chicken drumsticks; while Mum and Dad have told me countless times that I mostly copied my brother because, well I don’t know, isn’t that what brothers do when they’re young? When Jon decided not to talk and just point and use non-verbal cues to grab our parents’ attention, I followed suit. When Jon chucked a tantrum, I followed suit. When Jon decided that he was scared while watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs for the 7th billionth time, well naturally I’d hid behind the couch with him at the sight of the witch giving Snow White the apple. Life indeed was simpler back then, yet I’m sure others could say that we missed out on a lot during that time. And yeah, on some level you all may be right. But I believe that in a roundabout way, missing on quite a few things while we were younger- namely music and movies- is actually a blessing in disguise. Because it may have led to this blog series being written… and this series is one of the most humbling, enjoyable, enriching, inspiring and compelling activities I’ve embarked on in recent memory.
I don’t know about you, but more often than not, I look at the sheer amount of musical genres out there, and realise that I’m not across a lot of them than the average joe on the street is probably…then again, I’m probably a case that is different from most. Since early childhood, I was a sheltered individual, due to my premature birth way back when I was born. Throughout primary (and high) school, I listened to a fair amount of CCM, and it was only during the later high school years and well into my university days, that I started to branch out into music that was different from what I was used to. I started to hear the veins and streams of pop, rock, more mainstream music, and the deep, dark crevices of the misunderstood country music as well. If I am to be completely and utterly honest, my blog post journey that I started to undertake last year was as unique and different and new to me as I’m sure it was to all of you. I opened up the can of worms which is mainstream music; and realised that it wasn’t as bad or as evil as what people may have said it was. I dived deep into the punk-pop of Avril Lavigne, while also taking a stab at looking at the underrated rock group Lifehouse, while I was stretched in the challenging genre of opera-pop through artist Josh Groban, while I took a trip through the ages and tried to have a handle on artists like Phil Collins and Bryan Adams. Irish group The Corrs was a curveball in the form of Irish music, in a good way, and who can’t say and smile that Michael Buble, though his albums are littered and full of covers, is as relevant now more than ever today, in this time where familiar songs from yesteryear will trump over anything that is new? As I’ve reflected upon what this year of exploring new musical genres and new artists that I haven’t listen to, well, ever; I’ve found one thing to be true, which is this: acapella music doesn’t get much credit as it should. And for me, I don’t think I’ve delved into that genre enough to say that I’m all across it as I know that I can be…until now that is. While I do acknowledge that acapella, if done right, is considered, alongside other uniquely difficult genres in opera and rap, to be one of the hardest genres of music known to man at the moment; acapella for me is all about the harmonies, and what I’ve heard over the years, from this and that, hadn’t impressed me- that was until I heard Penatonix a few years ago, with their renditions of Christmas classic (and some hymnals) songs. While I can still concede that acapella as a genre can still be hit-and-miss, this group of 5 (borne out of the third season of NBC’s The Sing Off- a singing competition purely around the form of acapella music) has completely blown everyone out of the water with stellar performances and great harmonies, as Pentatonix continues to reign supreme amongst artists and bands whose craft it is to create acapella music.