R&B group New Edition were full-fledged teen superstars when they released the Christmas EP, Christmas All over the World. Hitting store shelves on December 12, 1985, just in time for the holiday shopping season. The EP was the final album to feature vocals from original member Bobby Brown until the 1996 reunion album Home Again. As Brown would depart the group the same month the project was released.
The EP’s opening number covers The Jackson 5’s, Give Love on Christmas Day. Ralph Tresvant’s vocals were often compared to his idol Michael Jackson, sounds positively angelic on the song with backing vocals from his group members. Producers Richard Rudolph and Michael Sembello keep the sound modern without downplaying the original version’s holiday festiveness. I always crack at a smile when Tresvant croons, “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike & Ralph too, give all the love that we feel to you.” It reminds me of simpler times and pays homage to one of the group’s signature songs.
Another cover, “It’s Christmas All over the World,” is the EP’s second song. Written and produced by the team of John Hobbs & Bill House, the track first appeared on the soundtrack to Santa Claus: The Movie as performed by Sheena Easton. Easton is a talented singer in her own right. I was always curious why New Edition’s record label didn’t work out a deal for the group’s version to be featured on the soundtrack. Die-hard NE fans know that this song gave all of the members a chance to shine vocally, even Ronnie & Mike. However, it’s the music industry’s best-kept secret Ricky Bell, who brings the song home with his lush singing on the chorus.
The final cover on the album is the group’s take on The Whisper’s “Happy Holidays to You.” On the one hand, seeing as New Edition lacked a bass or baritone singer at the time, it was a huge undertaking. This was one of the few songs where Ronnie & Mike sang lead. The two do a commendable job, and one can’t help but wonder why they weren’t given more chances to showcase their voices.
After opening the album with three cover songs, New Edition gets into some original Christmas music. Up first is the catchy and bubblegum Esque, “All I Want for Christmas Is My Girl.” Cathy Block penned the tune while Richard Rudolph& Michael Sembello handled the production. The song is signature New Edition with a smooth lead by Ralph Tresvant. It also features a classy sung bridge by Ricky Bell and raps by Ronnie DeVoe & Michael Bivins. The song is a Christmas time staple in my household and the one song from the album most deserving of a video. Christmas All over the World closes out with two self-written and produced songs, New Edition themselves.
Up first is “The Joy of Christmas,” courtesy of Ricky Bell & Ralph Tresvant. “The Joy of Christmas” continues the chemistry Bell & Tresvant showed on New Edition songs “I’m Leaving You Again” and “Good Boys.” I always remember the song and its production. It was prominently featured in the group’s BET Christmas program way back in 1985. While the song does sound dated thirty-five years later, the good vibes can’t be denied.
Ronnie DeVoe & Michael Bivins contribution to the ballad “Singing Merry Christmas” closes out the album. Similar to “Happy Holidays to You,” Ronnie & Mike sing lead. While the song isn’t a groundbreaking Christmas song, it accomplishes its purpose of putting one in the Christmas times and showcases the production and writing talent of DeVoe & Bivins.
Released when I was four years old, New Edition’s Christmas All over the World is a part of my annual Christmas soundtrack now that I have my own family. With polished vocals from all of the group’s members and catchy songs that evoke the holiday spirit, Christmas All over the World is worth revisiting.
Top Songs: “Give Love on Christmas Day,” “All I Want for Christmas Is My Girl, “It’s Christmas All over the World”
Final Grade B+
Christmas All over the World is available on all streaming platforms.