As an enthusiast of decked out halls, poinsettias and heavily ornamented pine trees, I’d assumed that Sia’s Everyday Is Christmas would be the perfect accompaniment to a hearty mug of rich, steaming eggnog. However, where I was expecting Sia’s unique, raggedly beautiful voice to gleam with holiday spirit, it only simmered, never truly exploding into color or boiling over with fierce attitude in the same memorable way that it did in last year’s This Is Acting.
For the most part, Everyday is Christmas is filled with tracks that fall just short of truly memorable. “Santa’s Coming For Us” is decent pop, fueled by a bubbly cheer that can be expected from a holiday-themed album, but it lacks the catchiness that distinguishes classic seasonal tracks from merely forgettable ones. Similarly, while “Ho Ho Ho” is carefree at heart, fraught with playful references to holiday booze, something about the chord progressions sounds off — and not at all in a good way. By far the most baffling track on the album is “Puppies Are Forever.” The title alone is confounding, and the lyrics similarly so: “Puppies are forever, not just for Christmas / Cause they’re so cute and fluffy with shiny coats / But will you love ’em when they’re old and slow?” Sia sings, her voice taking on a droning quality. Of course puppies are forever. But what about the concept is so significant that it necessitates its own song on a Christmas album?
Although it’s true that only so many holiday related words exist, it feels as if Sia didn’t even try to come up with unique song titles, which is a problem for logical reasons: “Snowman,” “Snowflake” and “Sunshine” sound more like they should be vocabulary words in a second grade classroom than song names. And with the ordering of the tracks themselves — “Snowman” and “Snowflake” come one after the other — it’s easy to get the songs mixed up, regardless of how similar the music itself sounds. All of that ignores that there are bound to be countless other songs of the same name that already exist.
There’s always a pro for every con, and for this album, that would be the slower songs. In “Underneath The Christmas Lights,” the final track, Sia sheds the false, gaudy brightness that she relies on for most of the album in favor of a stripped down choral ballad that finally sounds genuine. Just as with many of the other tracks on the album, the lyrics are relatively simplistic: “You are all I need tonight / Oh, oh / Here above the Christmas lights / Underneath the Christmas lights,” Sia sings, repeating the last lyric again and again. However, in this song, the simplicity works perfectly. Accompanied by only a piano and her own backing vocals, Sia’s performance is akin to a heartfelt, deliberately measured, mellowed out version of Mariah Carey’s 1994 “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
After listening to a Christmas-themed album, I want to feel as if I’ve been plopped onto a snow covered clearing surrounded by trees strung with bright, twinkling lights. My problem with Everyday Is Christmas is that with its lackluster lyrics, repetitive, droning choruses and downright uncreative song titles, the album only seems to partially commit to its supposed subject. It’s got the jingle and the commercialism down pat, but where’s the Christmas spirit?