Sia’s foray into Christmas music in 2017 is an excellent example of a songwriter in their element. This sugar-rushed pop album somehow captures both festive cheer and seasonal nostalgia despite all the songs being originals; see past the catchy yet tacky lead single and underneath you have a really fun album that doesn’t take itself seriously.
Here’s how I would rank the album’s songs
1. Candy Cane Lane
4. Ho Ho Ho
5. Santa’s Coming For Us
7. Puppies Are Forever
8. Underneath the Christmas Lights
9. Everyday Is Christmas
10. Underneath the Mistletoe
BONUS TRACKS ranked (2018)
I. Round and Round
II. My Old Santa Claus
III. Sing for My Life
The first track on Everyday Is Christmas was also its lead promotional single. ‘Santa’s Coming For Us‘ is a fantastic and upbeat song that sets the tone of the album wonderfully; this song has festive horns, heavy handed Christmas themed lyrics, and a really catchy chorus melody for all to attempt to sing.
Unfortunately I can’t help but feel that it was perhaps not the best song to promote the album. In all honesty it’s quite annoying and shouty actually. If you are not a fan of Sia’s excellent yet distinctive voice, or twee vocals like “Oh, da da da” refrains, then this song will absolutely turn you away from this album.
A far superior choice for a single comes in the form of ‘Candy Cane Lane‘. As the younger sibling to the similar first single, it goes even harder, is even catchier, and tries less hard to be normal. There’s more (sleigh) bells and whistles as it were, and vocal noises (“da da da“) as melody lines are instead replaced with colours of Christmas lights: “red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue“. It may not seem like a lot, and it isn’t, but I urge anyone to at least listen to this song and tell me it’s not really well crafted whilst still being heaps of fun.
What I personally love about Sia is her ability to take strange themes and incorporate them into great pop and pop ballads, and her unique voice only serves to exaggerate the songwriting, in a similar vein to how Paloma Faith constructs excellent music for radio that’s just different enough to stand out.
‘Snowman‘ is the best example of this strangeness from this album: a lilting 6/8 ballad featuring lyrics about the cold loneliness and bleak longing that Christmas can bring. I believe there’s something exceptionally modern about Sia’s approach to pop construction here, and yet the track is also incredibly moving. This right here is the song that emanates nostalgia even on a first listen, and of course it’s about a woman falling in love with an inanimate object because Sia really wants you to remember that she is NOT like the other girls! (!!)
As for variety throughout the album, there isn’t particularly much, and I think that’s ok for a seasonal offering when the songs are undeniably packaged glossily. The other pop ballads on the album feel a tad middling, as if they did not know what story they wanted to tell, and the mid-tempo offerings start to come across as rather one-note. Once you notice basic four-chord piano accompaniments for many of the songs (‘Underneath the Mistletoe’, ‘Underneath the Christmas Lights’, ‘Sing for My Life’) you can’t help but wonder if more could have been done to set songs apart from each other.
Luckily the mid-tempo ‘Ho Ho Ho‘ and ‘Puppies Are Forever‘ manage to break up the ballads. Cringey lyrics such as “in the land of misfits” here can be forgiven for the holiday season, and also because they appear in tandem with cartoonish and borderline absurd percussion sounds like slide whistles, vibraslaps, and dogs barking. It’s at this point we remember that Christmas is so important to young people and as such this album certainly feels catered for all audiences; which is actually kind of impressive given how developed and mature some songs feel depending on the setting you are listening in.
Take ‘Sunshine‘ for example: due to a non christmassy title and being two thirds of the way through the album, many people may not have reached it. Whilst the lyrics are the typical seasonal cannon fodder, there are subtle synth and vocal effects lurking in the production that really transform another mid-tempo song into a shining favourite for me. It also perfectly demonstrates Sia’s ability to use her voice as an instrument to illustrate very fun and catchy melody lines, unlike in ‘Santa’s Coming For Us‘ where this technique feels redundant.
Only one out of three bonus tracks (added in the 2018 Deluxe Edition of Everyday Is Christmas) adds anything new to talk about. Specifically ‘Round and Round‘ which feels like a chaotic neo-carol that keeps changing key higher and higher; and with syncopated hand-clapping it feels like a Eurovision oddity meeting Christmas. It’s genuinely really fun.
In conclusion, there is a great drinking game you can play with your family or friends when showing them this whole album (and this album review I hope). The rules are as follows:
1. Drink every time Sia mentions that it IS Christmas.
That’s it, that’s the game, trust me you won’t make it to next Christmas if you play. As I’ve said, lyrically there is nothing special throughout Everyday Is Christmas but forgive the lyrics and musically there’s some really easy-listening, cool, and joyous pop happening here if you just give it a chance.