Buon Natale: The Christmas Album
The best thing about most Christmas songs is that almost any recording artist can sing them and sound OK. Occasionally, some sing them so well they claim a classic song as their own, such as Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" or Whitney Houston's "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
It takes a real stinker of a holiday CD to merit a "Bah, Humbug!" but Il Volo earns that exclamation and then some with their new disc, "Buon Natale: The Christmas Album". The album, performed by the young trio of Italian tenors is the musical equivalent of a truckload of coal in your stocking.
While Il Divo is a younger, sexier, quartet version of the original Three Tenors, Il Volo is a less attractive, less talented version of Il Divo.
Their song selections are the fatal aspect of this Christmas collection. Rather than sticking with slower, operatic, traditional songs like "Away in a Manger," "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Do You Hear?" they cover too many pop songs ill-suited for their voices.
Not sure if they're opera singers or pop singers, on "Buon Natale" they smush both styles together and hope for the best, but with dreadful results.
Their Christmas Medley of "Jingle Bell Rock," "Let It Snow" and "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is worse than a five-year-old piece of fruitcake. Their poor phrasing and questionable grasp of the lyrics, makes Il Volo sound like Donny Osmond with an Italian accent.
Their version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" with its calypso beat belongs on a comedy album, and not for the right reasons. "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" has horrible pronunciations and the group's faux operatic style kills its natural bounce.
Even the classic Christmas songs are nothing special. "Ave Maria" lacks passion and sounds watered down. "O Holy Night" is nothing special, and "Silent Night" is completely overproduced. This is one song where less is usually more, and not content with slaughtering the English version, they sing it in German a few songs later. "Panis Angelicus" is better suited to their voices and musical style.
Listening to Il Volo sing "White Christmas" is like listening to Ricky Ricardo trying to speak English. A good producer would have prevented most of these missteps.
"Buon Natale" is a Christmas album so bad it would probably make even the most devout born-again Christian wish the baby Jesus had never been born.
"Buon Natale: The Christmas Album"
by Il Volo