Alongside the tinsel and holly that adorns shopping malls come November, you know Christmas is coming when the influx of festive albums begins. So far, Hanson’s Finally It’s Christmas has been the frontrunner, but that might change now that Sia has dropped hers…
Despite the fact that cinemas get flooded with holiday flicks during the festive season, Christmas is really a musician’s time. The phenomena of Christmas music can be traced back as far as 4th century Rome, with hymns such as ‘Veni redemptor gentium’ sung during the holiday season and English language carols beginning their never-ending reign of popularity from 1426.
While the central theme of the phenomenon –celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, good will to all men, and “God bless us, everyone”- has thrived since its Victorian renaissance, Christmas music has evolved with society and the times. Nowadays moral, ethical, and political messages lace the festive season more-so than religious ones.
Over the years artists have preached “Christmas spirit” through sleighbells and catchy tunes, and right now none are catchier then those on Sia’s latest album, Everyday is Christmas. The album hit shelves last week, loudly announcing the arrival of the season whilst simultaneously edging away from yuletide tradition. The ten tracks that make up the album are all original compositions, blending pop jingles with heartfelt messages that range from tragically romantic (in ‘Snowman’ her lover is melting) to commenting on social trends (in ‘Puppies are Forever’, she rebukes the trend of buying pets as seasonal gifts). When asked about the album in an interview with Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe, Sia said that it was inspired by a shortage of good Christmas music.
“There’s obviously the classics and stuff, but anything new, I wasn’t vibing that much on it.”
But listening to the album, it’s apparent that there’s more inspiration here than a mere lack of coverable material. While her songs adhere to a repetitive assortment of beats and choruses that are sure to get stuck in your head, her lyrics paint a different picture. Images of houses decked out in their Christmas decorations in ‘Candy Cane Lane’, as well as open descriptions of getting seasonally smashed in ‘Ho Ho Ho’, illustrate a very contemporary Christmas – an inclusive celebration of love and friendship – without becoming a preachy Tiny Tim serenade. Everyday is Christmas is an album that celebrates the fun of the season as well as delivering one or two ethical messages. And who knows, one of these songs could become a modern classic worthy of a Carols By Candlelight set list in between ‘So This Is Christmas’ and ‘Last Christmas’.
From Dickensian beginnings of snow-covered urchins singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ to large charity events like Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, yuletide music has come a long way and musicians are to thank -or bah humbug- for its longevity. We can only hope that –amidst the sexual scandals, political agendas, and general global unrest of the day– messages like Sia’s are heard loud and clear this season.
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