A good harmony is the foundation of every solid pop song, and this is all the truer of holiday tracks. Without unspoken chemistry between a vocalist and their surroundings, everything can fall apart inside of just a few seconds, but this isn’t a concern for Ingrid Michaelson in her new single “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.” With the multitalented Zooey Deschanel by her side, Michaelson draws instrumental luster together with a profoundly soft vocal tailor-made for a seasonal single like this one, and whether you’re a fan of yuletide harmonies or not, something tells me this is one track guaranteed to give you chills ahead of Christmas morning.
The lyrical content in “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” is admittedly familiar and falls in line with what I would expect out of a holiday track from a star-caliber name like Ingrid Michaelson, but it’s how she and Deschanel deliver it unto us that makes this song so endearing. There’s nothing recycled about the way they’re connecting over this melody; truth be told, I think they’re breathing life into the words just through their enthusiasm for the hook. This is the antithesis of unfocused seasonal pop – the passion is raw, and the presentation is quite sophisticated.
In the music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,” we aren’t bombarded with a patchwork of commerciality and untrimmed fat in the form of props we’ve seen thrown around from one television advertisement to the next between November 27th and December 25th, but instead a simplistic storyline more akin to old school American Christmas culture than anything contemporary. Michaelson never overthinks the concepts for her videos, and in this sense, her latest release is no different; she doesn’t have any time to fill our screens with predictability, especially when she could be giving us something more expressive and heartfelt instead.
From start to finish, there’s a brooding charisma between Michaelson and Zooey Deschanel that influences how we’re made to interpret every verse in the song, but I like that neither sounds competitive for the spotlight. They’re equally talented at the microphone, but they’re simply too in love with the harmony they’re constructing to try and edge each other out for the lion’s share of our affections. I’d love to hear them work together again, especially if it means bringing Andrea Love and Phoebe Wahl back into the fold to direct another music video together.
I would be lying to you if I said I haven’t always been a sucker for charming Christmas music, but even if this weren’t the case I highly doubt I would be shading the magical melodies of “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” this November. Ingrid Michaelson and Zoey Deschanel produce one of the can’t-miss duets of the season in this single, and although it’s only one of the intriguing works you’re going to hear on the new album Songs for the Season, I don’t believe it’s going to take more than a couple of listens to understand why this is my favorite excerpt from the tracklist.
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