This Isn't Christmas: Lil Nas X's 'Holiday' Doesn't Have Enough Jingle in These Bells


Ain’t enough jingle in these bells: Lil Nas X, “Holiday” – One cannot simply dress as Santa Claus, say the word holiday, and call that a Christmas song. It’s lazy and uncreative—the exact opposite of the Christmas season which is designed to make everyone high strung and ready to toss their own hands into the chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Really, the only thing holiday-esque about this song is the video that looks like Lil Nas X rolled around in the remnants of a tinsel factory explosion. As a non-holiday song it’s also pretty unimpressive and although it was described by Vulture as “festively horny” nothing is a bigger boner killer than a man doing a Michael Jackson impression in a chorus. —Shannon Melero

Ugh, I’m conflicted: Lana Del Rey, “On Eagles’ Wings” (cover) – On Saturday, during President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s acceptance speech in Wilmington, Delaware, he took a beat to quote one of his family’s favorite hymns, which he said reminds him of his son, Beau, who died from brain cancer in 2015. “Hopefully this hymn gives you solace as well,” Biden intoned, before quoting the indelible chorus of “On Eagles’ Wings,” a 1979 hymn written by Catholic priest and songwriter Michael Joncas.

It was a touching moment, meant to refer to Biden’s Catholic faith and beautifully remind the American people of the pain and struggles he has endured. But for those of us who grew up singing “On Eagles’ Wings” incessantly in CCD and Catholic mass and are still trying to forget it, Biden’s attempt at unity did nothing more than inflict a certain kind of liturgical quasi-trauma and weird memories of pretending you weren’t making out with boys at Catholic Camp After Dark and, if you’re me, that one CCD teacher who was so invested in Marian apparitions in clouds and toast we never even read the bible. I hate it! Lana Del Rey, who was also raised Catholic, apparently shares none of my residual youth dread for this song but, like everyone I know who was a Catholic youth, she absolutely will never forget the chorus. And she does a pretty decent job of it—the echo on her microphone helps—particularly driving home that, when separated from the emotional tangle it represents, it’s a pretty banging, arena-style pop chorus. Uneasy attachments aside, I’d like to see Beyoncé incorporate it into a live version of “Halo,” a song I controversially also hate. —Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Sure: GFRIEND, “Mago” – K-pop girl group GFRIEND’s “Mago” leans into pop’s contemporary fascination with disco and dance revivalist music, and it’s fun, but familiar. Call me when they go full Cascada. —Maria Sherman

N: Foo Fighters, “Shame Shame” – Just take the L, dudes. No one needs a “dark” album from Dave Grohl and crew right now. In the video, the former Nirvana man digs his own grave, which he told NME, “came from a dream I had when I was when 14 or 15 that I’ve remembered my entire life… I was standing at the bottom of this hill and there was this coffin on fire next to this dead tree and I ran up the hill to rescue whoever was in this coffin, but I couldn’t get my hands on it because it was on fire! I stood there filled with anxiety and fear, but I’ve remembered it my entire fucking life and never knew what it meant.” I’d recommend… asking a dream interpreter? I don’t know, this just feels unnecessary. —MS

Y: Teenage Fanclub, “Home” – The best guitar power-pop band that is not The Go-Betweens, Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub, will return next year with a new album. In the meantime, they’ve dropped the perfectly pleasant “Home,” a sprawling indiepop song fitting for writing a dissertation to—or, you know, just relaxing with a cuppa tea. It’s catchy. —MS

Y: Mere Women, “Romantic Notions” – Sydney, Australia’s Mere Women have carved out their own niche in a music world oversaturated with unimaginative post-punk by leaning into their tense desert rock impulses: their songs are exasperated, like an inhale held too long. (And for that reasons—fans of The Birthday Party, look no further.) “Romantic Notions,” the first and title track from a quarantine album arriving early next year, accomplishes a similar feat: vocals unravel, bass and percussion becomes more immediate, blood pressure rises. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. —MS

All right: Billie Eilish, “Therefore I Am” — Here’s Billie Eilish, walking around a place I desperately would like to be: a mall. This mall is empty, save for Eilish and her camera crew, and also whoever gave her that enormous pretzel. I’m generally of the mind that music videos should at the very minimum have something to do with the song in question, I’m not entirely sure if that makes sense here, and I’m fine with it! It’s shameful to say that I “miss” malls, but I do, and Eilish running with unbridled joy through this abandoned temple to consumer culture makes me feel good. The secondhand pleasure derived from watching a pop star go behind the counter of a mall Chipotle, therefore indulging in every fantasy I’ve had at a mall is good enough for me. Maybe she misses malls, too. —Megan Reynolds

Good old Y: Jam & Lewis x Babyface, “He Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout It” – In 2005, when the formerly ubiquitous Babyface was 46, he released an album called Grown & Sexy. Well, euphemisms fade, time marches on, and at some point, grown and sexy is just old. I don’t know if we’re there yet, but as an old person myself, this slice of extremely safe and warm ’90s balladry speaks to me directly. Why do a Verzuz with your heyday contemporaries (as ‘Face did with new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley in April), when you can cut a track with them. That’s just what he did with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for their upcoming artist project, though “He Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout It” sounds more vintage ‘Face than Jam & Lewis, even as their Minneapolis-branded iciness melted throughout the ’90s. This is just a nice love song about an object of desire who deserves better than she’s getting. It’s not moldy; it’s classic. —Rich Juzwiak

Ahhhhhh: Emily Sprague, “Chasing Light” – Multifaceted musician Emily Sprague’s ambient work radiates with such positivity, it’s like Vitamin D for your eardrums. “Chasing Light” is a track Sprague composed on a Moog One synthesizer for the expanded digital release of her 2020 EP Hill, Flower, Fog. It might sound cheesy to say that music this calm, warm, and self-assured is perfect for the chaotic year we’ve had, but to my ears, that’s exactly what it is. —RJ

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