Susan Boyle, the lady from Scotland who amazed a world that had judged her on her appearance by singing beautifully on Britain's version of America's Got Talent (known as The X Factor), is back with a non-Christmas album Christmas album (or vice-versa). That moment in time from 2009, whether they'll admit it or not, was one of the inspirations of NBC's The Voice. Because human beings pre-judge others for all sorts of reasons--appearance being just one. But what should count in music is the voice.
Anyway, after suffering a few health scares recently, Ms. Boyle has released an album designed to take advantage of the British definition of Christmas album without pissing off Americans. "A Wonderful World" does not contain a single Christmas song. Yet pretty much every song on the album is one that has received airplay during the festive season--beginning with the title cut (which is so clearly a spring and summer tune that we're all still scratching our heads after more than a decade of appearances on Christmas set lists). And the Disney favorite, "When You Wish Upon A Star" has been a seasonal standard for far longer, though it calls to mind crickets more than Christmas. Yes, even Madonna's "Like A Prayer" has puzzlingly popped up at Christmas time since its original release in 1989. Boyle has released two actual Christmas albums so far, so I think this was a very intelligent strategy on her part. An album that tugs at Christmas heartstrings without a single sleigh bell or Santa sighting is probably going to be a popular gift this Christmas.
Boyle avoids a potential pitfall by not including "My Favorite Things" (though that's more an American controversy anyway). But the unfortunate trend of "duets with dead people" continues as Susan digs up Nat King Cole for "When I Fall In Love". Michael Bolton also makes an appearance (no, he isn't dead yet). And you already know that Boyle has an angel's voice.
"A Wonderful World" is not on my shopping list this Christmas. But, for people who love this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they love. Shop around, though. Haven't seen one yet, but there's bound to be a bonus track edition "Somewhere Out There"...doncha think?