Sunday 2 December 2012

Whatever Happened To RnB? - Christmas Edition

Remember when ‘Heartbreaker’ ruled the UK charts and a Fugees reunion still seemed possible? In this weekly feature, I’m going to take a look back at some of the best RnB artists of yesteryear, sharing their signature videos and underrated hits, as well as looking at what they’re up to nowadays.

Previous posts have focussed on Mya, John Legend, Amerie and Jamelia. However, it's that time of year once again so today, it’s the Christmas Edition!

Hey Christmas!

There have been so many Christmas classics released over the years by legendary RnB artists such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. However, there is also a lot of crap to sift through (hello Ashanti's Christmas album!) so in this edition of Whatever Happened To RnB, I'm going to take a look back at some of my favourite RnB tracks sung by popular artists from the 90s and 2000s. Some are originals and some are versions of legendary Christmas hits but either way, any one of these songs is guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit!

TLC - Sleigh Ride

Let's start off with a little known Christmas classic by RnB supergroup 'TLC'. What's great about 'Sleigh Ride' is that it feels like a TLC song. It's not just a throwaway Christmas hit and while there is definitely a festive spirit to the track, it also retains the sassiness and smooth vocals that made the group such a worldwide success back in the mid 90s.

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You (SoSo Def Remix) ft Lil Bow Wow

Now we've come to the undisputed queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey. No original Christmas song from the last few decades has been as successful as 'All I Want For Christmas', which was actually written by Mariah Carey herself for her first festive album back in 1994. I also love this Jermaine Dupri produced remix, which adds a hip-hop edge to the track and a guest appearance from Lil Bow Wow (which is actualky ok!). The animated video is so cute as well and always gets me in the festive mood. 

'Holla? You better holla yourself to bed!'

Mariah Carey - Oh Santa

16 years after her first Christmas album, Mariah returned with another festive smash 'Merry Xmas II You'. Lead single 'Oh Santa' is a brilliant uptempo number which gets you into the party spirit with its bouncy beat and sing-along chorus. Mariah also looks amazing still in the official video, which was released in 2010.

Mariah Carey ft John Legend - When Christmas Comes

At the risk of Mariah overkill, here's one more song from the diva which has a timeless festive feel, despite it also being included on her 2010 Christmas album. 'When Christmas Comes' has a smooth retro vibe and the addition of John Legend's vocals on the single release make this sound even better than the original version. It feels like this song has been around forever and in a good way.

Destiny's Child - 8 Days of Christmas

God I miss this group. Sure Destiny's Child can now sound dated at times but I love this lead single from their 2001 Christmas album. This was released during the height of their fame and it became a big festive smash worldwide for the trio. Michelle had only just joined the group at the time so she didn't get to do much but I love Beyonce's quick-fire verses and Kelly's voice sounds as great as ever.

'You know Christmas? It was made for cheering!'

Destiny's Child - Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

After the success of original '8 Days of Christmas', Destiny's Child tackled a cover of the classic song 'Rudolph'. It's a sweet little number and the claymation promo is ridiculously kitsch but in a good way. The group also sound fantastic on this.

Rihanna - It Just Don't Feel Like Xmas (Without You)

Before Rihanna became the biggest pop star on the planet, she recorded this sweet Christmas ballad for the yuletide season. This is Rihanna before she developed the darker edge that she's become known for and it's nice to hear a younger version of Riri from a more innocent stage in her career.

Whitney Houston - Joy To The World

What a pair of lungs. At her peak, no one could sing like Whitney Houston and here, she gives 'Joy To The World' the uplifting gospel treatment. It's just a breathtaking rendition of the classic and there's nothing much else I can say, except that you just have to listen to it. Right now. 

 Alicia Keys - O Holy Night

I've always been in love with Alicia's voice, ever since 'Songs in A Minor' was released back in 2001 and her signature style fits 'O Holy Night' like it was written by Ms Keys herself. Watch a live performance of her singing the classic song here.

Keyshia Cole - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Keyshia Cole is underrated. It's a fact. Not many people in the charts these days can sing like her yet few people know of her outside her main fanbase. Keyshia's rendition of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' is a revelation then for anyone who has never heard her sing before. Her pipes are just out of this world and every word she sings is full of raw power and energy. Check it out now.

Monica - Grown-up Christmas List

Monica has the smoothest voice in RnB, no question, and her sultry tones work so well on this mid-tempo track from the early 2000s. It's not particularly famous but this song always gets me in the Christmas spirit.

Toni Braxton - Santa Please

Toni Braxton released her Christmas album 'Snowflakes' in 2001, penning most of the songs herself. I love the unique tone of her voice and its shown off brilliantly here on this Braxton original.

Faith Evans - Santa Baby

'Santa Baby' is one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time and there are so many great versions performed by stars as diverse as Kylie Minogue and Taylor Swift. This is an RnB post though so for this edition of Whatever Happened To RnB, I decided to share Faith Evan's cover, which was originally included on her 2005 album ' A Faithful Christmas'. Her voice is always flawless technically and I think Faith really brings her own flavour to the track.

Run DMC, Mase, Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg feat. Salt-N-Pepa, Onyx and Keith Murray - Santa Baby

To finish off then, I thought I would mix things up with a hip-hop 'cover' of 'Santa Baby',  which features a host of legendary rap stars discarding their tough street personas for a great tongue-in-cheek Christmas number. Just listen to the lyrics. The whole thing is ridiculous and I love it!

So I hope you enjoyed this selection of my favourite RnB Christmas tracks. Each of these should be played on every ipod and radio across the country during the festive season! Which one was your favourite? And were there any choices which you just really disliked? Let me know by commenting, liking and sharing below. And remember to come back next Sunday for another edition of Whatever Happened To RnB?

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