Fa La La La La, Here's a Survey of New Christmas Music Good and Bad


Y: Swae Lee, “Christmas at Swae’s” – Last year, Swae Lee from the duo Rae Sremmurd, released a tiny clip on social media of what sounded like a Christmas song about a lover who doesn’t appear under the mistletoe one morning. It was really, really good for what was literally a less than a minute snippet. Reader, it’s a Christmas miracle, because Swae delivered with a full-length studio version today built around the chorus, “I didn’t have you under my tree this Christmas/But I had you all over my wish list.” It’s a gorgeous, uncharacteristically sad song for him, full of doves crying, lighting candles for loved ones, and swapping eggnog for wine. This is an instant holiday classic. Do not sleep on it. —Hazel Cills

Not really, but only because it’s terrifying?: Greg Dulli, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (cover) – Dulli, from the beloved indie rock band The Afghan Whigs, covered “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and somehow made it sound like the creepiest classic in the Xmas songbook. I won’t ruin the video for it, but things get… incendiary? Unhappy holidays to us all. —Maria Sherman

Wine not: John Legend, A Legendary Christmas: Look, John Legend isn’t reinventing the wheel here with his holiday album. All he does is add his treacly, overly sentimental I’m-crooning vocals to some cozy Christmas classics, including “Silver Bells” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and calls it a day. Some songs are over-joyous for my taste. But most of it is enjoyable for this time of year and no other. Sometimes mama needs a pair of new shoes and he’s the best sort-of-cool-young-uncle type to rehash the same old songs. —Clover Hope

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but Y: Jessie J, This Christmas Day To fuck up a fucked up year some more, Jessie J dropped a Christmas album in October and—here’s the really fucked up part—it ain’t bad at all. The duchess of over-singing sounds oddly subdued throughout, allowing her actually very pleasant tone to shine through on classics and originals, the best of which (like her actually adorable “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”) are performed in a big-band style. When it was announced, I thought it would be funny to compare her riff on “The Christmas Song” with that of Christina Aguilera, who famously mutilated the standard with her counterfeit soul-singer affectations resulting in what is, in my opinion, the single worst Christmas song ever recorded (even worse than “Wonderful Christmastime”!!!). But on her version, Jessie doesn’t run all over the place or contort her voice into small punishments for our memories and psyches. When she unleashes, it’s momentary and complementary to the lyrics. As sure as the green blood that runs through my Grinch veins, a tasteful Jessie J production is the utter definition of a Christmas miracle. —Rich Juzwiak

I guess not!!!: Eric Clapton, “Jingle Bells” – This is EDM???? —RJ

Why, baby Jesus, whyyyyy: Azealia Banks, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – What the fuck is going on in the world? The sound she emits at the 3:30 mark is me not getting what I want on Christmas morning. The Christmas song by Nintendo’s Toad is more convincingly soulful. Between this and that god-awful “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” cover, this off-key lounge-singer thing that Azealia is doing right now has to be a troll, right? —RJ

Omg, yes yes YES: Ozuna and Generación Escogida feat. Christian Nieves, “Llegó la Navidad” – This song is as much a love letter to Puerto Rico as it is a celebration of Christmas. Just when the verse, backed by a choir of children, gets so sentimental that it threatens to make me weep, the chorus comes in, full of horns and Ozuna imploring you to enjoy the season’s festivities, and I no longer feel like I want to cry; I only feel like I want to dance. The video is adorable and cheery, in a way that my cold, cold heart really appreciates. —Frida Garza


Yes: Kelly Clarkson feat. Fantasia, “Jesus, What A Wonderful Child Take one moment to appreciate this beautiful video of Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia Barrino duetting on a nice hymnal. I was first alerted to this video via a post on the dearly departed Awl, and have thought about it every Christmas since. Imagine what could’ve been, had Kelly and Fantasia done a gospel album. Imagine where Kelly’s career would’ve looked like, had she pivoted to gospel instead of “Miss Independent.” It’s pointless to speculate about what could’ve been. Let us be here now, as Ram Dass once said, and enjoy this gift from the past. —Megan Reynolds

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