Years of Release: 2003 ; 2013/2014
Record Labels: The Inc Records (Ashanti’s Christmas); Written Entertainment/Entertainment One (A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti)
Here I am doing something that I haven’t done before prior to this. Okay, maybe I have done something similar, as in the past I had done a double review for my college newspaper when I reviewed Grand Theft Auto V and Saints Row IV as a comparison review. However, this is the first time that I have done one on music albums and being that it’s Christmas time, I wanted to do something like this especially if these two albums are from the same artist. I have also noted in the past that I am not opposed to doing R&B albums for this website. I also must add that I am a fan of Ashanti and in some ways, one of these two albums could qualify for this site as Murder Inc was (or is, as it still sort of exists) a rap label. So R&B was never out of the question for me to review on this site.
I will go over these two albums chronologically, which means that I will talk about Ashanti’s Christmas first.
Before I critique the album, I remember that I had contemplated getting this for years but I mainly listened to some reviewers on Amazon, which had given this a low score. Some had compared it to Whitney Houston’s (RIP) Christmas album that came out around the same time as this one did, but you can’t really compare to the two, especially considering how different their vocal styles were. But sometime later I bought her second Christmas album, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give the other one a go. I have to say that I went going with my own instincts and I came out actually enjoying it more than I thought I would, but there were some flaws on this album.
I won’t deny that she had limitations in her vocals, and her singing voice is rather high, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t try her best. She did well in some songs like “Christmas Time Again” and “Hey Santa,” which I initially expected to be a cover of the Carnie and Wendy Wilson song of the same name. I also enjoyed her version “The Christmas Song,” as well as “This Christmas,” but then you had her versions of “Silent Night,” “Joy To The World,” and “Winter Wonderland,” all of which could have been a lot better than they actually were. Also, some of the production had some jazzy feel to it, but some of the other tracks could have better work done to the beats and instrumentals. One of other song that I liked, however, was “Time of Year.”
This wasn’t a terrible album by any means, but in some ways, it is a good to play during the holiday season, but some of the tracks could have been better. In fairness, it was during a busy time for her as this came out the same year as Chapter II, her second album, and I am sure that there was not a lot of time to try to perfect the songs. Still, it’s decent enough to play during Christmas time, as some of the good outweighs the bad slightly.
As for A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti, it could be said that over time that things probably had improved vocally and the production was a little different this time around. I must note that I also bought this during the holiday season of 2014 at Target, which had a version that had two exclusive extra tracks. It was previously released in 2013 as an EP, before another version had come out with more tracks the following year.
What is noticeable is that this album does have the feel for the holidays, even with some songs having an R&B-lite beat for the background in some songs, like “Christmas Love” for example, as well as “It’s Christmas.” But what’s also noticeable is that even the uses of the bell sounds added to the beats to give it a Christmas-like feel. Her vocals had also matured over time. It HAD been a decade since her previous Christmas album.
I liked how the production was done for “Sleigh Ride” and “Let It Snow,” as they were rather upbeat for this album. The song, “Christmas is the Time,” was actually a re-worked version of “Time of Year” from the previous Xmas album. I liked both versions, but if you were to listen to both versions back-to-back, you can see the differences, as well as the comparisons. She also did a good job in other songs like “The First Noel” and “Santa Baby,” the latter of which I am not a huge fan of, but I’ll listen to her version (Along with Gwen Stefani’s version, as heard in her Christmas album).
The album closed off with “White Christmas,” and it was quite a family affair on this one, as her parents, her cousin, and her younger sister, Chi Chi, all sang on this one. Though the relatives were mainly backup singers in it, it was still a nice track to listen to and I have to give them all credit because it seemed that Ashanti wanted to do a song with her family and I can’t help but respect that.
Out of the two albums, I preferred A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti more than Ashanti’s Christmas, but I really don’t think that her first Christmas album was as terrible as people said it was. She was rather big during the time that album had come out and haters did hate on her during that time (Not to mention that she collaborated with Ja Rule, who was the biggest laughingstock in the rap world in 2003). It could be said that she had improved within that time, as well as more time was put into the second Xmas album, so that is why it was the better album of the two. But I know I will play the first one during the holiday season as well in the future.
Ashanti’s Christmas – 3.5/5
Top Five Tracks:
- Time of Year
- Hey Santa
- Christmas Time Again
- Sharing Christmas
- The Christmas Song
A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti – 4.5/5
Top Five Tracks:
- Christmas is the Time
- The First Noel
- Can’t Wait For Christmas
- Sleigh Ride
- White Christmas