I’m going on record: I don’t like Michael Bublé, and especially not his Christmas music.
It’s nothing against him as a person. It’s not even that he’s a bad singer; he isn’t. My problem with him is that I find his voice lacks character. He’s completely bland, like biting into a sugar cookie where the baker left out any salt. (We’ve all had that cookie, haven’t we?) While I write this, I’m listening to classic Christmas music from the great Robert Goulet, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Andy Williams, and other greats of the past. Heck, Johnny Cash; his version of “I Heard the Bells” gives the song a depth of meaning I’ve never heard from anyone else, ever.
Maybe the great artists of the ’40s through early ’70s are an impossible standard to live up to, but with Bublé basically aping Sinatra, I feel like he left the door open. And mind you, I don’t count Sinatra as one of the greats when it came to Christmas music; his Christmas music always felt bland to me as well. But Bublé is taking his not-quite-Sinatra voice—which doesn’t have half of Sinatra’s uniqueness—and doing updated takes on a lot of classics with arrangements similar to the originals. His cloned covers have a weird too-perfect sound, while his voice takes all the finesse and specialness out of them.
Again, the man is a perfectly good singer. Where I find fault with him is that he has no unique stamp at all. You can hear his voice and know it’s him, but there’s nothing special or even particularly emotive about it; if we already lived in the future where perfect speech synthesis was a thing, I feel like a robot could turn out the same work. And that lack of uniqueness extends into the very arrangements he picked for his Christmas music. Unlike, say, Barry Manilow, who took Bing Crosby’s classic upbeat Jingle Bells and re-created it with a fresh charm, Bublé’s stuff just doesn’t pull it off.
Maybe this is a better explanation: On Mystery Science Theater 3000, there was a frequent joke whenever an actor appeared on screen who looked vaguely similar to three other celebrities. The joke was always “X as Y in the Z story.” It was even funnier if the three celebrities had nothing to do with each other and didn’t even look all that alike themselves; but any time the joke came up, you could see it. That’s how I feel about Bublé’s Christmas music: His voice doesn’t really have a character of its own, but it’s more like a Sinatra impersonator with really good musicality doing somebody else’s song in their style, as faux Sinatra. Whenever I hear one of his Christmas songs, I very much want to hear the original with that arrangement—not just because it’s more familiar and it’s the voice that’s supposed to go with those sounds, but because it’s just plain better.
So, Christmas radio stations of the world: I implore you to play less Bublé, more Goulet. And no more Jewel, because good gads her Christmas music is awful. And this should go without saying, but that one Dan Fogelberg song is not a Christmas song, and playing it among Christmas music should earn you a slap across the ears.