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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Liner Notes: New holiday EPs by Laufey, Sabrina Carpenter are merry and bright

Illustration by Beatrice Villaflor
“Christmas With You” and “fruitcake” are the latest holiday EPs to be released by rising pop stars.

Every year the holidays roll around, lights inevitably crop up in neighborhood trees, coffee shops roll out holiday-inspired drinks, and, of course, musical artists capitalize on the Christmas season by releasing a holiday song or two. 

Laufey and Norah Jones’s “Christmas With You” is everything, except long enough

24-year-old Icelandic singer Laufey Lín Jónsdóttir, known professionally as Laufey, gets Christmas. Known for the deep, mature vocals that characterize her self-described “modern jazz” sound, the singer released her newest holiday EP “Christmas With You” with American singer-songwriter Norah Jones on Nov. 10. 

Featuring just a pair of songs —  a cover of the classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Better Than Snow,” a track Laufey and Jones co-wrote — the EP is the perfect soundtrack for decorating your Christmas tree and sipping some hot cocoa on a snowy winter evening. 

Truly, the only problem with the joint EP is its length. The two songs are not enough to capture Laufey and Jones’s voices’ potential for holiday music (luckily for all of us listeners out there, the two are no strangers to the holiday music game and have both previously released holiday collections). The artists are a rare gem of nostalgia in an otherwise pop-saturated holiday music realm. My only qualm with their EP is that we need more of it. 

On “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” the pair of singers elevate Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s classic song. Tinkly, jazzy instrumentals pair perfectly with Jones and Laufey’s mature, sultry vocals, creating the kind of song you would hear in the background of a holiday cocktail party, but it certainly deserves playtime beyond that. Despite the 20-year age gap between Laufey and Jones, Laufey’s voice holds up against the Billboard top jazz artist of the 2000s decade. 

The pair’s co-written song, “Better Than Snow,” laments the loss of a white Christmas, with Laufey and Jones singing about palm trees and sweating in ugly sweaters. The loss is remedied only by the notion that “Christmas with (insert your loved ones) is better than snow.” It’s a simple song, but Jones and Laufey’s croons fit right in with the established holiday music canon. 

If “Christmas with You” can teach us anything, it’s that the musical world needs a little bit less production. Sometimes less is more — a crazy thing to say, I know, during capitalism’s favorite season. 

— Tabi Parent

“fruitcake” by Sabrina Carpenter is the dessert everyone wants at the holiday party

Sabrina Carpenter’s new Christmas album, “fruitcake,” is total nonsense. And I love it.

If you are anything like me, you’ve been captivated by Carpenter’s career lately. The 24-year-old singer is currently bringing her bubbly, feminine persona to the pop world by opening for Taylor Swift on her international tour.

The singer released a six track holiday album on Nov. 17. At a little under 16 minutes, “fruitcake” isn’t anything outstanding. (It’s safe to say Carpenter won’t be bringing in Mariah Carey-level profits this Christmas). But with songs like “cindy lou who” and “buy me presents,” the album is a lot of fun. 

If you don’t take it too seriously, “fruitcake” is the perfect Christmas album to put on while you sip a peppermint hot chocolate and look at holiday lights this winter.

Like most of Carpenter’s career, this EP is less about being technically genius and more about being aesthetically pleasing and fun. In other words, it’s more for the “vibes” than it is for anything else. 

The album’s strongest track is one she had already released: “A Nonsense Christmas.” This track is the holiday version of her hit song “Nonsense.” With its quirky lyrics and chaotic vibe, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a song Carpenter made up as a joke to sing with friends. It’s not revolutionary, but it does live up to its name. 

The remaining tracks emulate the sugary, goofy style of “A Nonsense Christmas.” Four tracks on the project are original songs, with “white xmas” holding the spot as the only Christmas cover.

Though it starts slow, “white xmas” is the second strongest track. It made me wish that Carpenter brought more classic Christmas tunes to this project. With a few more holiday hits sprinkled into this EP, or even an artist feature or two, “fruitcake” would likely have more longevity in the world of Christmas music. 

Overall, Carpenter’s EP is what it says it is: a fruitcake. It’s a fun holiday treat that’s definitely a little crazy but is still very festive, nonetheless.

— Emily Lichty

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @emilymlichty 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @TabithaParent12

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