Avatar Four Word Reviews: The Christmas Album

It’s April, which means that rising sense of child-like excitement you feel is thanks to Christmas. Here in the Four Word Review lounge we like to crack out a Christmas album around this time of the year (see previous scrapes with Mahalia, Streisand, Bublé and Jewel); now, as the log crackles on the fire and the snow falls outside, it’s time to drop the needle on another. Unfortunately the only festive album I seem to have in store is this one: it’s “The Christmas Album” by the Tweenies.

Cover of The Christmas Album by the Tweenies

You might remember the Tweenies as a surprisingly popular children’s show about four intensely irritating and brightly-coloured characters talking to each other in stupid voices and singing songs with a giant red felt dog. It was first screened in 1999, and was so popular that 390 episodes were churned out in two and a half years, plus a number of spin-off pop songs and four albums. Two of their singles hit the top ten. It would be fair to say that their popularity and enduring appeal remain very difficult to understand for people of our generation, but there are now 30-year-olds walking the earth who grew up with this stuff.

Released in 2001, “The Christmas Album” was their second album, and spawned their fourth single release; I Believe in Christmas spent six weeks in the charts and peaked at number 9. The album, meanwhile, runs to a full 45 minutes and contains 15 songs, all voiced in-character by the Tweenies. I have listened to all 45 of those minutes, for you, and while the psychological effects will only become apparent with the passage of time, I strongly suspect I am changed forever by the experience.

Anyway, let’s see how this party hat unfolds.

TrackWord 1Word 2Word 3Word 4
1. I Believe in ChristmasVoicesworsethansong
2. Light Up the WorldHeartfeltfairylighttribute
3. Sleigh RideDingdongdingdisaster
4. Christmas is Coming Your WayRejectedkidsTVtheme
5. Merry Xmas EverybodyJoylessSladebynumbers
6. I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayJoylessWizzardbynumbers
7. Fab-a-rooney Christmas“Reach”byS-Club7
8. Santa Claus is Coming to TownIrritatingbeyondmerewords
9. Rockin’ Around the Christmas TreeInexplicableSugababesbassline
10. Walking in the SnowLargelyformlessfillermaterial
11. Give it All You GotGenericTweeniespopsong
12. Rockin’ RobinNotaChristmassong
13. Frosty the SnowmanIgnoredforselfpreservation
14. Can’t Wait for ChristmasOnemoreunwantedsong
15. Bonus TrackTheTweeniesthemetune

The voices are what will stay with you from this album. The four Tweenies all have irritating childlike voices that the actors playing them have to put on. (One of them was voiced by Justin Fletcher, the Most Famous Man on Cbeebies, before he was famous, though I couldn’t tell you which one; they’re all annoying.) The songs have copious spoken-word parts where the characters talk to each other, which are bad enough, but they then have to try and sing in the same voices which is awful. I felt genuinely bad for the voice actors.

Musically, it could be worse. I have heard worse Christmas music – not by much, but I have. The songs aren’t actually terrible; some are quite throwaway and generic but others have decent tunes and the production is OK, even if it’s all very much early 2000s plastic pop. Lyrically it’s precisely what you expect – go for the obvious rhyme every time – and there is an overabundance of the phrase “fab-a-rooney” which was apparently a Tweenies catchphrase.

Like all our other Christmas albums, the Tweenies felt the need to adapt the lyrics of the songs they covered, mostly to make them more child-safe. Wizzard’s line about writing your name on the rooftop in the snow came through unscathed, presumably because it’s oblique enough that the kids won’t get it, but the Slade cover had an unfortunate amendment to ask “do the fairies keep him happy for the day?”, raising the alarming possibility that they are providing some x-rated service to Santa on the big day. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree was unchanged lyrically, but was musically quite different to both the original song and the rest of this album, instead bearing a worrying resemblance to U.G.L.Y. by Daphne and Celeste.

Overall, I didn’t hate this album as much as some of the ones I’ve had to Four Word Review, but having listened to it I do absolutely hate the Tweenies. It’s much too long, running out of steam after about ten tracks and losing its way with a couple of non-Christmas songs before someone thought up a couple more to finish off with.

My favourite thing was that one of the four clearly had the better singing voice and the least irritating Tweenie character, and the producers wisely chose that actor to do most of the singing, which was a small blessing. My least favourite thing was the line in Can’t Wait for Christmas that asked if you were ready for “when Santa comes creeping in”. There’s nothing fab-a-rooney about that.

2 comments on “Four Word Reviews: The Christmas Album

  • Your catchphrases do flow like water. They flow like a tidal wave washing away a picturesque fishing village. They’re unstoppable and come in quantities nobody would ever have thought possible.

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