Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain is the 2005 festive album Cheetah-licious Christmas by Disney-created American girl group, The Cheetah Girls. Will this album give you the best Christmas ever, or will you feel cheet-ed? Read on…
This album opens with the upbeat sleigh bells of second single Five More Days ‘Til Christmas. This is a cheerful original track (one of many here). The song is pretty catchy in the chorus countdown section, with wonderfully warm vocals. Imagine what would happen if the Sugababes had just been told they were getting a pay rise and then gone on to record a Christmas song. Musically, it’s loaded with bells, piano, and brass alongside the girls’ vocal harmonies. We’re off to a great start.
Classic Christmas favourite Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is next, with an electro-RnB style. Again, the girls (Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan, and Kiely Williams) make light work of the track, with plenty of harmonies, solos, and ‘ooh’ and ‘woah woah woahs’. It’s a really nice interpretation of this familiar song, and the updated style works perfectly.
That’s followed by The Perfect Christmas, another original. This track takes a harder sound, with rock drums and electric guitars. This harder sound set against the rich and warm vocals of the harmonies and solos, works perfectly. The lyrics are loaded with the usual Christmas themes of children and presents, as bells chime in the background.
Lead single and titular track Cheetah-licious Christmas is next, and unsurprisingly it’s another original track (the coincidence would have been amazing though). ‘Let’s deck the halls with spots of Cheetah‘ the girls sing early on. The track itself is quite simple with fat bass synths, a simple piano riff. This track makes me think of what might happen if we’d ever put B*Witched in a studio with Mis-Teeq, although the lyrics are somewhat self-referential and cheesy.
Nauseating children tell us what they like about Christmas in the opening of A Mashmallow Christmas. The concept of this song I really don’t ‘get’ here in the UK, and it’s mostly just lyrical nonsense. Still, it’s a cover of a 1940’s track that first gave Bing Crosby success, and the girls seem to get through it with ease over a simple clappy beat.
Stomping bass drums and claps lead us into Christmas In California. This is another original track, and the tempo makes it a foot tapper. The girls get to do shouty lyrics ‘yeah’, ‘hey’, ‘alright, alright!’, and this fits the beats perfectly.
That leads into next original song No Ordinary Holiday. Here, the vocals feel far more Christmassy than the previous song, and the track bounces along with ease again like a lost B*Witched track. Muscially, it’s fairly minimal allowing for the vocals to shine. It’s a nice little song.
In an act of bravery, All I Want For Christmas Is You is up next. From the outset, the vocal power of the Mariah Carey version is lacking. Instead, the girls dial the song down into a slow ballad, complete with acoustic guitars and warm electric pianos. They manage to take the track into a nice cosy territory, but you really just can’t get the ultimate version far from your thoughts at every turn.
The Donny Hathaway classic This Christmas is up next, a track that gets covered by most American Christmas album artists. The trio have a fast and bouncy funky track to contend with, and at times it sounds like they’re desperately trying to catch up with them. Unlike Hathaway’s version, the vocals just aren’t given the space to shine. It just feels a little bit cheap.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus follows this. This is quite a fun version. The snare drums and record scratches really keep this song bouncing along, whilst also giving it an almost 60’s sound. They even have Santa Claus laughing on the track at the appropriately part. For the chorus, they even throw in some fun ‘la la laaa’ sections. Again, i’m made to think of Sugababes, but overall this is a great version.
Final original track The Simple Things gives us some some simple heavy stabbing synth/bass notes, matched by guitars that sound like they’re about to riff a piece of ABC by The Jacksons. The song is again laden with wonderfully warm vocals and Christmas references throughout in the lyrics.
Next up is a breathy version of Last Christmas, a hit for George Michael/Wham! Stylistically, this is a fairly faithful cover, right from the very first notes. The beats and funky bass here are absolutely delightful, and with them set alongside the vocals it makes this version really really nice.
The album closes with Feliz Navidad, a song loaded with Spanish guitars, brass, and Spanish vocals. It’s a fun little ending to the album, and helps to showcase the girls bilingual vocal skills.
Over all this album was an unexpected joy to listen to. When I first saw it, I bought it believing it to be the ‘turkey’ this Christmas that would bring the light relief to this year’s range of Christmas album reviews, but actually it really is a great album.
The Cheetah Girls really have some fantastically warm and rich vocals on display here, and most of the tracks sound like light work, and really compliment their voices.
A Marshmallow World is the only skippable track, with I Saw Mommy…, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and the singles being a delight to hear, but the best track is by far Last Christmas. Do check that one out.
This album might look like a 00’s teenage girl’s essential purchase, but it really does stand up as a credible Christmas album. It’s a shame that it didn’t get released (i think) in the UK.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2005 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart in UK.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.95 from an eBay seller.