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Album Review: Cee-Lo Green - 'Cee-Lo's Magic Moment'

Holiday Cheer

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Album Review: Cee-Lo Green - 'Cee-Lo's Magic Moment'
On Cee-Lo Green's first Christmas album, the rapper-turned-singer delivers a kid-friendly, all-ages collection of songs that are a sharp change of pace from his usual brand of adult-oriented tunes. Cee-Lo's Magic Moment, which was released in the U.S. Oct. 30, 2012 by Elektra Records showcases Cee-Lo's more warm-hearted sensitive side via his remakes of classic tunes like "Silent Night," "Please Come Home for Christmas" and "Baby It's Cold Outside." This collection is dripping with sentiment and lacks any of the dark humor, morbid themes and odd quirks that have come to characterize Cee-Lo's other work. And impressively, it works: this is as traditional, mainstream holiday album that stacks up well against any other Christmas album you may have heard by more traditional artists.

Rich, Warm Display

Of all the people you might expect to record a cheery holiday album, Cee-Lo Green might have been among the last. After all, he's the guy who recorded the humorously bitter broken heart anthem "F_ck You" and before that the hauntingly paranoid anthem "Crazy" as part of the duo Gnarls Barkley. But apparently, a secret Santa lurks within that sizable frame of his, and his heart of gold is on full display throughout the 14 songs that make up Cee-Lo Green's Magic Moment. It becomes pretty clear from the first minute of the opening song, a remake of "What Christmas Means to Me" that Cee-Lo isn't aiming for irony with his first holiday album. This collection is his straightforward interpretations of various Christmas tunes, and he puts his heart into each.
Among the highlights are his version of "Baby It's Cold Outside," which features one of the few other pop vocalists who can match him note for note: Christina Aguilera. On the song, the two powerful lunged vocalists -- each of whom has the ability to blow the roof of a building with their vocal firepower -- managed to coincide nicely, without either overshadowing their counterpart. Another winner is Cee-Lo's version of "The Christmas Song," (aka "Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire,") where his vocals give the Nat King Cole version a run for their money. And his version of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" is a rich, warm display of his vocal abilities.

Worthy Addition

Although Cee-Lo doesn't delve into his usual bag of odd tricks here, that's not to say that this album's without it's small share of quirkiness. He's joined by the Muppets (yes, the Muppets, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and others) on the delightful sing-a-long "All I Need is Love," and he's joined by the acappella group Straight No Chaser to become one of the relatively few artists ever to remake the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," which originally appeared the 1966 cartoon special "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
There are a couple of inconsequential musical stumbles on the album, most notably his attempt to remake Chuck Berry's late 1950s ditty "Run, Rudolph, Run" in the same musical vein as the original. Although he does his best to match Chuck's version note for note, he's out of his element on the doo-dop ditty. Also, at points it seems as if Cee-Lo is trying too hard to make a mainstream pop album. It's almost the equivalent of a child or teenager who's always acting out try to play the good person role in order to fool people. But such issues are minor: Cee-Lo's Magic Moment is bursting with good spirit and holiday cheer, and is definitely a worthy addition to the list of quality holiday albums.
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