BEBE REXHA EFFORTLESSLY BLENDS OLD AND NEW IN “COUNT ON CHRISTMAS”
Perhaps the merriest thing to come out of the rather holiday spirit-devoid A Christmas Story Live, Rexha blends a contemporary pop sound with phrasing reminiscent of traditional December favorites. It is the effectiveness of this blend that celebrates the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I think it’s time for the timeless time of the year, Rexha wistfully proposes in the opening verse. She sings as though she is confiding in her best girlfriend about how eager she is to drink in the traditions of the season. Doesn’t matter if the year’s got you feeling down/Just remember in December what is coming ’round, proclaims the catchily bopping chorus. And you’ll find the feeling that you always found/You can count on Christmas, count on Christmas.
Ms. Rexha brings the skills she uses as a songwriter and collaborator for electronic-fused artists like David Guetta and Florida Georgia Line to this yuletide offering, mixing an electro-pop sound with the distant clamor of jingle bells and a melody that feels as distinctly familiar as a snowstorm on a cold December night. Her lyrics add a sentimentality to a genre of music that usually prioritizes computerized production over evoking any kind of real emotion from its listeners. If the music production is the string of Christmas lights, the lyrics are the house from which they hang: adding real substance to the sensory experience.
This reviewer had not heard of Ms. Rexha prior to watching her opening music video for the FOX network’s broadcast of A Christmas Story Live! She has only released three EPs. Ms. Rexha released the first of those records in 2015, thanks to her gambit of collaborations with celebrity DJs, rappers, and even country music stars.
Time is the only measure by which a song becomes part of the larger cannon of holiday classics. It either catches on or passes with the season. Only a few artists have transcended a Christmas tune to a classic carol. Andy Williams crooning “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” comes to mind. So does Mariah Carey, who only seems to pop up around this time of year, like some forgotten tinsel in the basement, only to sing “All I Want for Christmas is You” repeatedly until her poor voice gives out. Both these mainstays were not minted in culture until enough time had elapsed for them to become welcome apparitions of Christmases Past.
Bebe Rexha could very well turn her electronic infused carol into this decade’s seasonal classic. “Count on Christmas” has real potential to become a musical marker for how and why we celebrate Christmas in the 21st Century. Even in this modern age…with all of the presents, all of the gifts/It’s really about who you’re sharing them with. It seems that now more than ever, we need this time of year. Rexha sings that the magic in Christmas is that, The world’s the way it used to be. A sentiment that is never clichéd on December 25th.