“I can’t even listen to this anymore. Your voices together, are just too amazing.” ~Gwen Stefani, talking about a Battle Rounds performance on Season 9 of The Voice.
Although I may be slightly exaggerating (and paraphrasing the quote, as I don’t remember what Gwen Stefani actually said), this was my reaction when I heard 1 Girl Nation’s Christmas track, “Joy.“
The lead single off the teen pop group’s Christmas EP, the lyrics in “Joy” talk about some of the most exciting moments of the holiday season– i.e. kids seeing Santa at the mall, hearing the Christmas music on the radio, etc. But in a not-so-surprising plot twist, the girls compare these moments to the one thing that truly explains why we– as Christians– celebrate the holiday season; the birth of Jesus Christ. They explain that God loves us so much, He sent us a Savior, and for that reason, “there is no greater joy.”
As if the inspirational message wasn’t enough, the song also included some amazing vocal skills from Lindsey, Carmen, Kayli, and Lauryn.
Seriously. That falsetto in the bridge of the song… WOW! It was almost like that time when Kelly Clarkson performed her Christmas song, “Underneath the Tree,” (which “Joy” is very similar to) on NBC’s The Voice a few years ago.
After hearing this song on the radio a couple times (and LOVING IT!!!), I decided to check out the rest of the EP, and I wasn’t disappointed one bit. These girls have taken 3 covers of classic Christmas songs, as well as a cover of Idina Menzel’s hit song “Let It Go,” and made the all-too-familiar tracks their own.
“Angels We Have Heard On High“ is reminiscent of the Pitch Perfect or Glee soundtracks. It blends a bit of organic percussion with a tightly woven electro-pop instrumental, maintaining the familiar melody while still allowing 1GN to put their signature spin on the song.
A track usually associated with strains of southern gospel, “Go Tell It On the Mountain“ is arranged in a similar pop/R&B style. Programmed beats provide the backbone for a great vocal arrangement, all while keeping the original melody and lyrics.
However, it’s the standout track, “A Very A Cappella Christmas Mashup,“ that the girls really showcase their vocal abilities. Covering everything from “Jingle Bells” to “O Holy Night” in the duration of almost 5 minutes, this song is 50 shades of INCREDIBLE. Aside from the harmonies being on point, each member of the group brings something unique and different to the collaboration, making it an overall success. I was totally surprised when Lauryn turned “What Child Is This?“ into a rap verse reminiscent of Nicki Minaj– however, it seemed to fit perfectly in the recording. The rap verse soon turned into a breathtaking rendition of “O Holy Night.” From the second I heard Kayli hit the high note during the lyrics, “oh nightttt…. DIVIIINNNNNNNEEE,” (I quoted the lyrics that way for a reason 🙂 ) I was blown away. In all the years I have been listening to Christian music, I have never heard an artist (with the exception of Britt Nicole) sing with that much power and control.
As for the concluding track, “Let It Go…” it’s an Academy Award-winning anthem of self-empowerment that has been covered by practically everyone who likes to sing. When I heard 1GN had done a cover of this song, I thought, this is probably going to be mediocre in comparison to Demi Lovato’s cover version. I was certainly wrong about that! Although this song has been overplayed on so many levels, and many big names (including Demi Lovato) have previously recorded it, 1GN did a great job bringing in some bold EDM elements that give new life to a Disney classic. This song alone will probably make many a girls’ day.
A Very 1 Girl Nation Christmas, a short-but-sweet follow-up to their 2013 debut album, was released last October– and a lot of changes have taken place since then.
- The band’s sophomore album, Cinema, was scheduled for release earlier this year, but has been delayed several times.
- Lindsey recently announced she’s stepping down from 1GN, in order to record music with her husband. (Check out their beautiful cover of Bethel Music’s “No Longer Slaves“)
At this point, the future of 1 Girl Nation is unclear. However, all the girls are so talented that if the group disbands, they will all have successful solo careers in the Christian/pop music industry. Although only God knows what the future will be for 1 Girl Nation– their Christmas EP will remain virtually timeless (and, much like the Disney Channel Holiday album from 2007, I will keep listening to this every holiday season).