The Strangeness of Christmas Songs (ctd)

For year now, I have been listening to this song from Wham!


Only in the last couple of years the strangeness of it has really hit me, though. Unlike many Christmas songs, which often are happy or cheerful (or if melancholy at least focus on some sliver of the religious or commercial aspects of Christmas as such), Last Christmas not only is purely an internal assessment of an individual’s experience, it is barely even incidentally connected to Christmas. This song could easily have been written as a summertime song. The only element which has to remain for this song to be this song is that a year has passed. Christmas, despite being in the title, is merely a metrical hook.

This does not make it a bad song. It looks at the very human experience of heartbreak at having mistaken pleasures for affection, and romance for love. Last Christmas is a song about the whirl of sudden pleasures and sudden reversals. The singer is expressing something terribly common in people’s lovelives, something unhealthy if we linger in it. But the experience is common enough that it’s typically more like emotional influenza; it’ll mess you up for a while, and you’re not likely to ever really forget it even if the details fade over time.

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