Chicago, “Feliz Navidad” from Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album (1998): Saturdays in the Park

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“Feliz Navidad” is an upbeat Latin-tinged Christmas carol compliments of the legendary Jose Feliciano – or at least it was until Chicago got a hold of it.

This song had so much potential. It was screaming for the Chicago horns and a Latin-tinged Tris Imboden rhythm. Unfortunately, what happened on 1998’s Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album is a far cry from the Chicago-ized arrangement it deserved.

“Feliz Navidad” literally translates to “Happy Christmas,” and Feliciano’s original arrangement of the song IS very happy and in the spirit of the Christmas season and what it represents. Chicago’s arrangement, however, is mournful and more reminiscent of a funeral dirge than an upbeat Christmas song. The whole mood of the song screams more “Good Friday” than “Merry Christmas.” The only thing missing is Robert Lamm reciting the stations of the cross for full effect.

All in all, Chicago’s Christmas arrangements are generally excellent interpretations of classics, not to mention some decent original pieces. “Feliz Navidad,” unfortunately, is a blemish on an otherwise decent collection of new Chicago-ized arrangements of Christmas classics. I’m not sure what inspired such a mournful and depressing arrangement of what should have been a fun, horn-tinged Christmas song but this is one the band should have gone back and re-done in the spirit of the original piece.


‘Saturdays in the Park’ is a multi-writer, song-by-song examination of the music of Chicago. Find it here at Something Else! each weekend.

Perplexio

Perplexio

Perplexio also maintains a stand-alone blog called The Review Revue, where he explores music, movies and books. He spearheaded 'Saturdays in the Park,' our weekly multi-writer, song-by-song series focused on the music of Chicago. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Perplexio
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