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Sarantos – The Happiest Time of the Year

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Sarantos is an artist from Illinois with a ton of ambition. He’s been writing lyrics since grade 4. His bio claims he’s committed to releasing a new song, video, and chapter from his fiction/fantasy book every month until the day he dies. He’s written over 2,000 songs over the course of his career and he plans on releasing a new album every November. He also donates 1/3 of his music-related sales straight to charity and he has over 1.4 million followers on his social media accounts. He’s got more going on than the buffet at Sizzler. When will Sarantos’ ambition catch up to him?

On his latest Christmas double album The Happiest Time of the Year (which was, by the way, released last November in time for Christmas), Sarantos splits his holiday inspirations into 2 discs – one containing a mix of classic favorites with a few originals and another with only well-known spoken word Christmas stories. It’s a good strategy as arranging music with spoken word on the same album would probably make for a choppy and distracting listen.

Disc 1 starts with Sarantos’ original songs. The first thing that jumps out is that his voice is not as strong as it could be. Opener “The Happiest Time of the Year” is an original song in the style of a traditional Christmas jingle (complete with horns and sleigh bells) but the vocals are soft and wobbly. Sarantos doesn’t have the range you’d expect from someone tackling a Christmas album, like Michael Buble or Josh Groban, for instance.

Sarantos’ best original song is “It’s Christmas Time!” a recollection of everything from clean air to Santa, sung in an innocent, childlike manner. He keeps it simple and doesn’t stretch his boundaries which make it a pleasant listen. That being said, it’s highly derivative and it will instantly remind you of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, both lyrically and musically.

The best classic song on disc 1 is “Joy to the World”, which incorporates beautifully played keyboards, snappy snare drums, and children singing the backing vocals in harmony. The auto tune on Sarantos’ voice is obvious but again it’s effective because he doesn’t do too much. Other highlights include faithful renditions of “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night”, the latter displaying impressive musicianship and emotion in its epic outro.

Disc 2 is a spoken word album and features Sarantos reading some of his favorite classic Christmas stories. His voice is expressive yet calming, which makes you think he’d be a much better radio DJ than pop singer. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, The Brothers Grimm’s “The Elves and the Shoemaker”, and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”. Wisely, Sarantos keeps disc 2 tight at 9 tracks, allowing the audience to appreciate the stories before the concept wears thin and the listener gets bored.

Again, Sarantos doesn’t have the range of a big pop singer and at times it even seems like he’s struggling to hit notes or keep in tune. The songs on The Happiest Time of the Year are listenable but it’s doubtful they’ll make it to anybody’s Christmas iPod playlist. Disc 2 is more enjoyable and will serve as a soothing soundtrack for your Christmas shopping, baking, and decorating later this year.


– Trevor Morelli

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