Once the first snow sticks, you know winter is here to stay. Lucky for us, El Niño came on strong this year, and snow has been staved off for at least a few more weeks. The one thing we can say for certain is that finals come and go, but winter break is forever. Cozy up next to family and a fire and let these holiday tracks take your mind through the emotional rollercoaster that is December.
“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” — *NSYNC
Fall exam period is the only barrier standing between students and two weeks of rest and rehabilitation at home, and for many, holiday celebrations with family and friends. Whether it’s Christmas, New Years, or Chanukkah, this is undoubtedly the season for celebration, as *NSYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” reminds us. References to specific religious holidays aside, the lyrics touch on common secular experiences like family love and childhood joy that everyone can relate to. As you trudge through the snow to the gym to take your exams, it helps to be reminded of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Aside from the festive lyrics, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” is the kind of sugary sweet bubblegum pop song that everyone needs in their life during stressful times. Sure to get your toes tapping while studying, it’s an upbeat motivator to help you plow through those last few readings. It’s cheerfulness will lower stress levels just by listening, and it could even make a solid choice for an impromptu dance session. What better way is there to forget the snow piling up outside your window or the five degree wind chill than dancing?
There’s no better time than now to indulge yourself in a little nostalgia, and no band embodies the pop music of our childhoods quite like *NSYNC. There’s a certain comfort involved in revisiting the bands you heard on the radio as a child, especially those of the guilty-pleasure nature like *NSYNC.
– Jenna Stanwood
“The Christmas Song (Roasting Chestnuts)” — Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire has received critical acclaim for its studio albums since the release of Funeral in 2004; however, being overshadowed by their award-winning music, little attention has been paid to what could— generously – be called their first EP: A Very Arcade Xmas. The first song on the EP, “The Christmas Song (Roasting Chestnuts),” hilariously attempts to bear likeness to the original holiday classic recorded in 1946 by the Nat King Cole Trio. It opens with the gentle sounds of piano and xylophone, while soft laughter can be heard in the background.
“Ah, it’s Christmas morning. I smell something,” is the lyrical opening, leading into a brief, recognizable 30 seconds of the song. The final two minutes, however, are a drunken train wreck of jumbled, and at most times, completely incorrect lyrics. Although their rendition is probably the funniest version of “The Christmas Song” ever recorded, the gentle instrumentals of the piece bear surprising melodic resemblance to the original.
Recorded in 2001 at a holiday party, A Very Arcade Xmas is not commercially available, so to listen to the EP in full, YouTube is the only option. This means you will not be hearing any of these tracks on the radio; good news for those frustrated with the month of December allowing no reprieve from the familiar holiday tunes. In the words of Win Butler’s inebriated, screeching, stream of consciousness, “I know it’s Christmas in the suburban van, Christmas on the mountaintop. But who knows if we’ll get there one more time, it’s never certain—and will it ever be?”
– Aislinn Kalob
“Holiday Road” – Lindsey Buckingham
Lindsey Buckingham, better know as the guitarist and vocalist of Fleetwood Mac, may not be exactly what every person immediately associates with Christmas time. The holiday classic National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation (1989), however, is high up on the list. Buckingham’s contribution of “Holiday Road” to the movie’s soundtrack is one that cannot be forgotten – quite literally. It has all of the elements of a song that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head: A jaunty upbeat pop melody and easy, repetitive lyrics. “Holiday Road” revels in its own simplicity with Buckingham’s signature finger-picked guitar playing and satisfying harmonies taking centre stage. And while it’s a far cry from anything found on Fleetwood Mac’s rock albums, it was one of the biggest hits of Buckingham’s solo career after leaving the British-American band.
Despite the track’s undeniable link to the beloved Christmas film and ideas of picturesque holiday road-trips, the song’s music video is surprisingly more of a reflection on corporate American culture than anything else. Taking place in a dark office with barred in windows, Buckingham delivers his lyrics straight to the camera, absent of any emotion, while a supervisor on a raised platform yells at workers who are clearly yearning for a holiday. With McGill’s Fall semester coming to a close and finals beginning, the majority of students can relate to Buckingham’s sentiments in this context that it’s going to be a “long way down the holiday road”.
– Laura Hanrahan