Despite the plethora of wonderful evergreen Christmas music that proliferates our nation’s airwaves around this time of the year, or perhaps because of it, it can be downright impossible to track down any new holiday classics in the making; that special piece of music that instantly grabs you by the hand and leads you charging out into a Winter Wonderland of infinite possibilities. Most current artists relegate themselves to the tried and the true, settling on Christmas themed albums almost entirely made up of their renditions of songs that are already better well known and regarded from singers and musicians that, in most cases, have long since Lindy Hopped to their respective Happy Hunting Grounds.
Which brings us to a delightful anomaly to my above rules, the Franke Previte and Dusty Micale composed Christmas song, Merry Christmas Everybody, as sweetly rendered by classical crossover phenomenon Vivace (ably led vocally by the transcendent Tiffany Desrosiers and featuring the amazing talents of fellow Vivace members Joel Ros and Taylor Pardell) and Grammy and Juno-nominated Mark Masri, himself no stranger to plying his considerable talents to a Christmas tune or two. Although Mark himself is not a member of Vivace, his style compliments the group and is something akin to a 21st century Bing Crosby belting out a Christmas tune with the Andrew Sisters. Also, because the song was produced in Canada and because Mark and Tiffany are Canadians themselves, Franke considers Merry Christmas Everybody a sort of “Hands Across the Border” production and he feels it illustrates perfectly just how universal his holiday song is and how it transcends labels of nationality to actually work as a piece of music that all people, no matter their walks of life, can respond and relate to.
Franke Previte should be no stranger to music aficionados. This New Jersey native made his name early on with the driving sound of Franke and the Knockouts before graduating to worldwide recognition and acclaim with his Oscar winning music (“(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life and Hungry Eyes) for the critically and commercially lauded film, Dirty Dancing. Since then, Franke has gone on to produce even more amazing music as well as becoming something of an ambassador for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in honor and memory of his good friend and Dirty Dancing alum, Patrick Swayze.
Merry Christmas Everybody came to life at the behest of the manager of pop sensation Christina Aguilera, who requested that Franke write a Christmas tune for his star client. Quicker than Santa’s elves could recite the words to the Wham! Holiday classic Last Christmas, the erstwhile troubadour produced a little gem that everybody loved yet which was destined to remain tucked away for two decades because of the desire of Aguilera’s team for something more up-tempo.
Enter music agent with the Golden Ear Kenjamin Franklin who heard the song and knew that with the right arrangement Merry Christmas Everybody could be a big hit as well as a perpetual evergreen that might just make the likes of Crosby and Cole green with envy. In the wink of an eye, Franklin extended a twig of holly to Canadian singer and tunesmith Tiffany Desrosiers in the hopes that she would be keen on recording Previte’s hidden Christmas salutation. She was, thankfully, and she brought along the classical crossover group she is a part of, Vivace, and solo ace crooner Mark Masri to perform the song as a festive duet which was ably produced by Grammy nominated Daryl Bennett and arranged by Roy Tan.
“Merry Christmas Everybody sounds like a song you could have heard before,” a justifiably proud Previte confided to this reviewer. “After you hear it, it’s easy to remember it…Michael Lloyd told me that if this song were in a major movie it could become a classic.” And Michael Lloyd would know as he collaborated with Franke on another film classic, Dirty Dancing.
Don’t allow your eyes to glaze over from the rattling off of musical statistics, dear and constant reader. For in this sublime rendition of Franke Previte’s and Dusty Micale’s Merry Christmas Everybody we as listeners are instantly and joyfully cast back to the warmest and happiest of Christmases. The music and the words work hand in hand to fill us with the forgotten joy of the holidays and this reviewer, tin-ear and all, swears on a stack of first edition Dickens’ A Christmas Carol’s that the tune is one of the most arresting Christmas songs to ramble down the pike in decades. The sweet renderings by Desrosiers and Masri recalled for me old words from 1941 as agelessly delivered by Winston Churchill to a world at war and which I forever associate with the magic of Christmas: “Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and formidable years that lie before us…” Franke Previte’s Merry Christmas Everybody offers that same sense of awe and joie de vivre as Churchill’s hopeful words from that long ago 1941 Christmas, even as we face uncertain days ahead of us. And that’s about as magical as it gets.
Writer’s Aside: A portion of the purchase of Merry Christmas Everybody from the website RadioTV.com will be donated in support of one of the most worthy of causes, Toys For Tots which will help ensure that the children the world over will have a joyful and Merry Christmas as well as sending a message of hope to less fortunate children.