Alcazar is one of Sweden’s pop bands that have carved an interesting niche for themselves. They are a European dance music act that over the years since their debut have an interesting career that’s been pretty hard to define. Some of what they’ve done is breathe new life into older songs such as their 1998 cover of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” In other cases they’ve borrowed old melodies and given them new lyrics such as “Crying At The Discotheque” uses the melody from “Spacer” from Sheila & B. Devotion, and have even taken the lyrics from one song and set them to the melody of another such as “This Is The World We Live In” which sets the lyrics from Genesis’ “Land Of Confusion” to the melody of Diana Ross’ “Upside Down.” And they’ve even had a few songs written especially for them to perform.
Every album released to date has seen a change in the lineup from the previous album, but one of the consistent features of the group has been the lead vocals being performed primarily by Andreas Lundstedt. I was very impressed by his amazing voice since the first time I heard their debut album. In fact, I truly hated the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” song because I thought the original had such horrible sounding vocals until Andreas’ much better vocals convinced me the song was a lot better than I gave it credit. Andreas’ voice has been wonderfully supported by Tess Merkel, Annikafiore Kjaergaard, and later joined by Magnus Carlson and then later by Lina Hedlund. And together they’ve produced some really fun pop dance music to keep the first decade of the 21st century interesting.
However, their latest effort, which is being tacked on as a bonus track for a re-released version of the “Disco Defenders” album that initially was released earlier this year, is a cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas.” Normally, I think Alcazar has done a wonderful job modernizing the songs they select to cover, but after having checked out this cover, I don’t find it to be very necessary or even an improvement over the original. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself to be a George Michael fan but the original version of the song is pretty amazing. The song itself has been covered a number of times as any visit to iTunes doing a search on the title alone will produce a long list of remakes. As much as I like Andreas’ voice, I just don’t feel the new Alcazar version does the song justice, it just feels unnecessary.
Check out the Alcazar version below here, and below it I’m going to include the only cover version of “Last Christmas” that I think was truly well done. Maybe you’ll agree with me, or maybe you won’t, in any case, here’s Alcazar’s version…
And in my opinion, the best cover version of “Last Christmas” is by Darren Hayes of Savage Garden fame. He recorded as a track for Rosie O’Donnell’s first collection of Christmas songs that had some songs featuring Rosie singing with popular singers and some that just featured other singers on their own, the Darren Hayes cover was one of the ones that did not feature Rosie O’Donnell singing too. Check it out here.