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18 hot take

Pop CultureDecember 18, 2018

The Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar: December 18

18 hot take

Every day in the lead-up to Christmas, open the door to reveal a Spinoff writer’s short, sizzling commentary on a weighty subject. Our arbitrary and strictly enforced word limit: 365. Today: Madeleine Chapman doesn’t understand the obsession with Michael Bublé.

Before I go any further, I want it known that I like Michael Bublé and his baritone and his Christmas cheer. But two years ago, while Buble’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (a good song) played at Friday drinks, I drunkenly proclaimed “James Blunt is a better version of Michael Bublé – and yet people love Michael Bublé” and it was quickly agreed by everyone present that that was the most controversial thing I’d ever said.

Does Bublé have a great voice? Undoubtedly. As do hundreds, nay, thousands of singers on Youtube. James Blunt has a great voice, too. Not universally loved but inarguably a great voice. He also writes his own lyrics and music, imbuing his songs with a personality and depth that very few singers have achieved singing covers or Christmas carols (this Aretha Franklin cover is a notable exception).

When I listen to James Blunt sing, it sounds like he’s sharing a part of himself, opening himself up to the listener. When I listen to Michael Bublé sing, it sounds like he’s singing a song. For someone to transcend being simply a good singer, they have to offer something more; Bruno Mars has dance; Sara Bareilles has musicianship and now a Broadway career; Adele has endless charisma. James Blunt has musicianship, lyricism and charisma, while Michael Bublé has … Christmas?

Granted, if Bublé sang some of Blunt’s songs, he’d do an admirable job. Some would even argue he’d improve them, simply because singing others’ songs is what Bublé does best. But Bublé couldn’t sing a song with such vulnerability. His December-only baritone wouldn’t allow it. I’ll take a slightly shiny but deeply emotional, depressing James Blunt song over a pleasant-sounding but shallow Michael Bublé Christmas carol, made to be heard in Farmers.

Anyone who’s more known for their Christmas carols than their original music – and don’t you dare try mention Mariah Carey right now – will only ever be a poor man’s version of another artist. For the sake of this hot take hill that I absolutely will not die on, Michael Bublé is a poor man’s James Blunt. You know what? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Read the Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar in full here.

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