Three days ago I had never heard of your band. Two days ago, my little boy unwrapped a Christmas present from his grandparents to discover a copy of Jingle Bell Baby, the Christmas carol board book and accompanying sing-along CD on which you perform.
It's a beautiful book, one which I am sure we will treasure for years to come. But I need to have a serious word about the CD.
Now, I do realise that you are all highly trained fine young singers from 'Europe's leading school for rock and pop musicians' (whatever that means), and I am a comparatively fossilized, poker-arsed choral-singing Nazi, with a generic music degree, but please bear with me.
It may well be the case that my only foray into the world of professional recording to date has been as a backing singer on Roberto Alagana's Christmas Album, and I probably wouldn't have done that if I hadn't needed the fee to get my car released from Croydon Council's car pound (the bastards), but that's another story entirely. As an accomplished choral singer, I've sung for the Pope, won an international choral competition, and had a 4* review in The Times. By and large, I do feel qualified to offer some constructive criticism here.
I've seen more than enough Fame Academy, Pop Idol and X Factor in my time to know how you crazy kids like to sing these days. And you can can sing, I grant you that. But please note the following very carefully, and take it on board for any future sing-along CD projects.
All that swooping and scooping up to every single syllable, the manic over-embellishment and general improvised faffing around with the timing makes the sing-along CD utterly impossible to actually sing-along with. It simply can't be done. And even if it could, there's not a hope in hell I'd encourage my little boy to wreck his voice with pop-star warbling before he's even old enough to understand the difference between bel canto and con belto.
I did wonder if I was being a bit too high-brow choral-anorak about it, so I played the extracts from your website to The Husband, who happens to be an accomplished rock musican in his spare time.
He was sat in the bath, unable to reach the volume button, but his confused and increasingly frantic mutterings of 'Karaoke Mariah Carey' and 'Please. Make. It. Stop.', were enough to tell me that it's not just me.
On a serious note, I love the concept of what you're doing, and I really hope you can find a way to make the idea work. Keep it simple, remember that your sing-alongers are mostly ordinary parents and grandparents, who can't (and won't) swoop around every note like a pub & club circuit Whitney Houston impersonator doing I Will Always Love You after a few too many Bacardi Breezers, and I think you might be on to a winner.
Thursday, 27 December 2007