Arts Desk

The Sleigher: Cee Lo Green, “River”

HO HO WHO: Since he was the only non-Jewish judge on The Voice without a Christmas album, it was only a matter of time before Cee Lo Green gifted the world with one of his own. The result is Cee Lo’s Magic Moment, a nasal blend of over-affected vocals and inappropriate collaborations with artists he had no business collaborating with. I’m looking at you, Muppets.

LET THE RIVER RUN: It’s not like Cee Lo is entirely without talent, so the soulful inflection he adds to the Joni Mitchell classic isn’t that offensive musically. He hits the right notes, knows the rhythm, and doesn’t try to reinvent the song. For a Christmas cover, that's rare.

THROW HIM A LIFE JACKET: References to Christmas and reindeer do not make “River” a Christmas song. It’s about fucking up your relationship and being alone and depressed. That means those who cover it should try to infuse it with as much suffering as possible. On this front, the Gnarls Barkley star doesn't really deliver: He moans through non-vocal portions of the song, and his moans don’t sound particularly mournful. And replacing the simple piano accompaniment with strings and a corny keyboard arrangement sends it over the edge.

CHEER FACTOR: 0/10. If the song already sucks the joy out of Christmas, consider leaving it alone.


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