Frisson, vol. 8

BY BRYN TAYLOR//

We’re entering the last week of November, which means Christmas is right around the corner. Although I find Christmas music incredibly tacky and, most of the time, overplayed, I think it’d be beneficial to dissect three-holiday songs that are at least somewhat stomachable. No, I’m not the Grinch; I’m just realistic. Tell me you can listen to Christmas music after December 25th, and maybe I’ll rethink my statements. Alright. Let’s get into it. 

The first-holiday song I’ll be looking at is “This Christmas,” performed by Lalah Hathaway. Partnered with only a keyboard and her voice, Hathaway creates a creamy, smooth holiday sound. Compared to other performances of the song, initially done by Donny Hathaway, Lalah’s version is much more stripped. Sticking to the original jazzy genre of the tune, Lalah creates a soft R&B sound. The song, Lalah’s interpretation or not, is easy to pick out amongst the other Christmas songs plaguing the radio. Unlike most holiday tunes, “This Christmas” focuses on the idea of new love on Christmas. Images of cuddling up by the fire, carolers outside your door, and meeting that special someone under the mistletoe all come to life in Hathaway’s song. 

The next song we’ll be looking at is Tyler the Creator’s “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”. The tune initially made for Dreamwork’s animated “The Grinch” is extremely original and creative. It does not resemble Christmas’s essence, except for being a take on a classic anti-Christmas song. Tyler, paired with a children’s choir, creates an eery and ominous sound for the Christmas villain. Creating the image of Max pulling the sled, Tyler uses the sound effect of a whip. Otherwise, it stays very close to Tyler’s unique and odd sound, pushing the realms of rap, Christmas, and music in general. 

The final song might not be necessarily seen as a Christmas song, but I feel it sticks to the theme of holiday vibes, so I’m going to throw it in. In winter of 2019, HAIM released a bonus track on their album I Know Alone. The bonus track was titled “Hallelujah”, and it is one of the most mesmerizing and simplistic winter holiday songs I’ve ever heard. The music is composed by just the three sister’s voices accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The song is loosely based on the death of Alana’s (one of the sisters) best friend but was changed to be based on thankfulness and love for the family and friends we hold dear, a message many keep near and dear to themselves during the holiday season. The song speaks of guiding angels, creating beautifully spiritual images. The three sisters bang out some intense harmony that could carry the piece by itself. It is spiritually awakening and breathtaking.

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