A Contemporary Christmas Original That Actually Works

December 12, 2022

In a time when many artists are looking to cash in on your holiday coins, Meghan Trainor’s Holidays stands out from the norm. 

I admit, I’m generally hesitant to listen when contemporary artists release Christmas albums. They reek of opportunism, and the music that comes out of it rarely stands the test of time. Since Mariah Carey struck gold in 1994, many mainstream artists have taken a page out of her book and tried to replicate her success in some way. In my opinion, this is an unrealistic goal. That kind of success on a Christmas song won’t ever be replicated, but the reality is that both labels and artists know that pumping out a Christmas album creates recurring revenue. Christmas isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. A Christmas release has become increasingly important given the need to appeal to listeners who choose to stream music over buying albums. Christmas albums also help artists stay relevant. If they had no other music released during the year, throwing a Christmas album together with a whole lot of covers mixed in, doesn’t require nearly the same level of effort as a full LP. It’s easy and it’s safe. For all of these reasons, I’d say my hesitation to check out Christmas originals from contemporary artists is pretty reasonable. No, they aren’t all bad, but they often feel lazy.

All this being the reality, I was pleasantly surprised by Trainor’s 2020 Christmas hit
Holidays when it was first released. Not lazy at all! I remember first hearing Holidays over the radio in the waiting room of a doctor’s office in the late fall of 2020. Still masked and socially distanced at the time, the song brought some light to a pretty dreary time. This song has all the right ingredients to be a modern-day holiday hit.

👉 Holiday agnostic lyrics that everyone can enjoy? Check.
👉 Upbeat pop tempo you can’t help but move to? Check.
👉 A feature from a legendary band for cross-generational appeal? Also, check.

It really does have it all.

The feature by Earth, Wind & Fire takes this song from good to great. Instrumentally, the horns are the most exciting addition. Horns are a hallmark of so many great EWF songs. The big band element makes the song feel like as much of a celebration as any wedding or milestone birthday party I’ve heard EWF songs played at in the past.

Vocally, Trainor delivers. Her voice is equal parts familiar, earnest, and warm. EWF features briefly in the second half of the track with a call to action: Lemme hеar you say, “I’m ready for the holiday”. Call the family up, tell em we’re on our way. My sentiments exactly.

Holidays is happy and celebratory and reminds me of what I consider the best parts of the holidays – the opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed, and to raise a glass with family and friends. This song is a staple on my Christmas playlists, and it’s been on heavy rotation in my home over the past few weeks. Winter (and arguably, all of 2022 for that matter) has been hard enough. I’m taking all of the holiday cheer that I can get.

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