As a fan both of Steps and of Christmas music generally, I eagerly purchased the group's new seasonal album Light Up the World a few weeks ago. This review will examine my thoughts on the album.
The cover shows the band - Claire, Faye, Lisa, H and Lee - in white beneath their gold band name, so that the record is easily identified as one of theirs. However, I found this CD to be more sophisticated than the band's previous poppy offerings. In itself this is neither praise nor criticism; simply an observation.
The ten tracks on the album are a mix of covers and original songs with a cosy wintery theme; some are explicitly about Christmas. Whatever your opinion of the band's music, it would be difficult to argue against their clear singing talent and each member displays strong vocals on this album, particularly Claire who is really a superb singer. Some of the tracks, such as opening song History is Made at Night, have slightly old-fashioned background tracks along easy listening lines, while others, such as Overjoyed, have a more poppy sound.
Slow, wistful love songs take pride of place on the album, such as One Less Bell to Answer and A House is Not a Home. Please Come Home for Christmas has a festive crooner feel. Have Yourself A Merry Christmas is a version of the Judy Garland classic Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, which is my favourite Christmas song. This version, like all the others, does not compare to the original, but it is restrained and gentle with strong vocals and beautiful harmonies, resisting the urge to turn it into an easy listening background track (I'm looking at you, Luther Vandross).
However, there are some more upbeat songs here too. It May Be Winter Outside is cheerful and uplifting, while the jaunty beat of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) belies the sad, pleading nature of the song. Title track Light Up the World is an album highlight, with a sweeping, memorable chorus in the style of old-school Steps.
This isn't the band's greatest album by any means, but it's a pleasant listen at this time of year. Even if you would normally avoid Steps, I recommend this CD provided you like Christmas music, as it's a relaxed, atmospheric festive CD. Currently available online for only £6, it's a definite bargain.
1. History is Made at Night
3. It May Be Winter Outside
4. One Less Bell to Answer
5. A House is Not a Home
6. Light Up the World
7. When She Loved Me
8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
9. Please Come Home for Christmas
10. Have Yourself A Merry Christmas
Light Up The World is the latest album from the pop group Steps. It is a Christmas album and was released in the United Kingdom in November and so it is very recent. The CD is currently available from Amazon for a price of £10 which I do think is a little expensive especially when you consider that other new albums are selling for £7-8.
1) History Is Made At Night 2) Overjoyed 3) It May Be Winter Outside 4) One Less Bell To Answer 5) A House Is Not A Home 6) Light Up The World 7) When She Loved Me 8) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) 9) Please Come Home For Christmas 10) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
~ * History Is Made At Night * ~
This is a funny old song. It's quite nice I suppose. It reminds me of a song that would be played over a scene(s) in a Christmas film. It's nice that they all sing about. There are some good harmonies on here; although at I am guessing it's all 'electronic'. It's an easy listening song - I think the more I hear it, the more I like it.
~ * Overjoyed * ~
I don't like this song at all. It's weird and it's very cheesy with lyrics like 'I've been building my castle of love'. It's quite cringe-y to listen to. I tend to skip this one.
~ * It May Be Winter Outside * ~
I like this song. It's a cover and whilst it's nice to hear Steps' version of this song - it's not the best version I've ever heard. I quite like this song; I think it's more that I like the song with it's funky beat, than I like their version. I think I would like anyone's version of it.
~ * One Less Bell To Answer * ~
I don't like this song. It's too slow. It's just too boring and doesn't really going on it. Quite cheesy.
~ * A House Is Not A Home * ~
I don't like this song. It has some really weird lyrics "a chair is still a chair even when there is no-one sitting there /but a chair is not a house" Not sure what the whole issue with the chair is, but I don't like it.
~ * Light Up The World * ~
This is the lead single from the album and was the first 'new material' song I heard. When I first heard it I was so disappointed - I thought that it was such a dull and boring song and couldn't believe that they had come up with something so boring. However, having heard it a few times, it has grown on me. I wouldn't say I love it, and I certainly wouldn't say 'put that on again', but it is ok. I like the lyrics: "Do you cross your heart / does it make you who you are / you'll never know / If the spark becomes a flame / would it warm or cause you pain / you'll never know" So as you can see the lyrics are quite thought provoking. I just wish the chorus was more catchier and maybe more upbeat than it is. Come to think of it, I think the whole song would be better if it was faster. Perhaps then it wouldn't sound so dull.
~ * When She Loved Me * ~
This reminds me of something Claire would have sang on 'Popstar To Opera Star'. It doesn't really fit into the album; there you are expecting pop music and this comes on. It shows off their voices.
~ * Christmas (Baby Please Come Home * ~
I like this song! It's a cover, but its nice and upbeat- this is how I expected the album to be. All jolly and Christmassy.
~ * Please Come Home For Christmas * ~
Lee has a go on this song. It's like something from the past. Not really my cup of tea.
~ * Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas * ~
I like this song! Again, I think that it is the fact that I like the song (no matter who sings it) rather than liking it just because it is a 'Steps song'.
~ * So What Did I Think? * ~
To be honest, I was expecting this song to be all Christmas covers. I didn't really expect that there would be many new songs. So when I heard that the album mainly consist of new songs I was a bit excited. Only 3 songs out of the total 10 are covers which I thought was great as I expected it to be the same Christmas songs every year. However, their cover versions of songs such as: 'It May Be Winter Outside' and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'.
There are a few new songs on here which I was looking forward to hearing; I always think that it is nice to have new Christmas songs rather than the same old ones every year. However, these new songs aren't that great; in fact they are very bland and just plain boring. The songs on here are nothing special at all. I had so much hope foe this album. The songs are too slow and gentle and are not jolly at all which is a shame. The songs are certainly nothing to get excited about. In a way, I think that it is quite good that it is a Christmas album rather than a 'normal album' as I certainly do not want to listen to this album all year around.
This album is described as being a 'Christmas Album', although to me apart from the couple of songs which have the word 'Christmas' in them. It's more of a 'winter' album and not a Christmas album. It's quite a relaxing kind of album; I could imagine sitting on the windowsill in the warm looking out at the falling snow flakes outside. It's quite a 'warm' and 'cosy' kind of album. Good for relaxing too. I would say that this album is more of a 'in the background' sort of album; for when I am doing the housework etc, as opposed to an album I would sit there and actually listen to.
I had heard some very negative things said about this album, however as I have been such a huge fan of Steps since I was around eight years old, I felt I had to be loyal and see for myself what the album was like, rather than judge it on what others were saying about it. As a huge Steps fan as I child, as you can imagine I was absolutely gutted when I heard the news on Boxing Day 2001 that Steps had split up! So as this is their first 'new material' album since 2001, I was really excited to see what it was all about, especially as I love Christmas. I do have to say though, I don't like Steps much anymore - they just seem so amateur-ish, although I had to buy this album out of curiosity.
So would I recommend this album? Um...it's hard to say really. I had so much hope for this album; I thought "Ooh, you are a Steps fan and are curious about what this album is all about , then I would recommend this album. Although, if you are looking for a great Christmas album, then I wouldn't recommend this.
Thanks for reading!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 History Is Made At Night
3 It May Be Winter Outside
4 One Less Bell To Answer
5 A House Is Not A Home
6 Light Up The World
7 When She Loved Me
8 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
9 Please Come Home For Christmas
10 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas