Today’s Christmas Present looks at a group that had some success breaking through with dance music in the U.S., Cascada. The group released a Christmas album in 2012 called “It’s Christmas Time” that largely eschews the rhythmic music they’re known for, to mediocre results, but it’s their rendition of “Last Christmas,” recorded during their hey day, that prompts this entry.
The song was released in 2007, as second album “Perfect Day” was ramping up, and it started to hint at a slower pace that U.S. label Robbins was encouraging on some of their U.S.-substituted tracks for her second album (“Faded” and “Holiday,” which were hugely superior replacements for covers of Pink’s “Just Like a Pill” and Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” both embarrassing covers for the group). “Last Christmas” slowed the tempo down a bit, let Natalie Horler’s vocals shine a bit more clearly, and started the group towards their direction that led to some of their strongest results in 2009’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor,” where the beats and tempos were more varied, yielding a more rewarding album.
As mentioned, “It’s Christmas Time” lost its way, but they managed to sneak a stronger one on there, and it most fits their traditions. “Jingle Bell Rock” is an uptempo number, and given the Cascada treatment, it holds up well. Slower tempo numbers elsewhere on the album should be overlooked.
For awhile it looked like Robbins, Cascada’s U.S. label for the peak of their success, was on its way to compiling tracks for an honest-to-goodness Christmas album, and in an interview I did with him a long time ago, former Robbins exec John Parker stated his interest in doing one. A couple of years prior to the Cascada release, another popular Robbins artist, Reina, released another strong entry, her version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” that, while not the Darlene Love version that is a holiday classic, certainly holds its own and shows the promise of a Christmas dance album. With the rise of EDM music, perhaps some enterprising soul will finally make it a reality.