Reviewed by Johan Palme on 22nd December, 2017
When was the last time a major recording artist, at the very top of their career, released an all-original Christmas album? Not a single, or an album of holiday favourites, but an actual full album of originals? The last one I can think of is Boys II Men’s Christmas Interpretations, more than two decades ago. Even historically, they’re rare enough, with obvious highlights like Asalto Navideño being exceptions in an overwhelming sea of cover records.
Which, of course, makes it all the more exciting to see Sia shoulder the (no doubt fur-trimmed) Christmas mantle. Everyday is Christmas contains of 10 original songs, all written by Sia herself, and all with distinct Christmas themes. It’s well-produced, massively marketed, and clearly an ambitious labour of love.
And yet, despite all that, it somehow comes across as dabbling. At her core, Sia has been an artist whose success has rested on complex, sincere and sometimes biting songs about self-harm, alcoholism and dysfunctional relationships – ironic songs about commercialism notwithstanding. And yet, the set on her Christmas album is almost provocatively devoid of any challenging subtext, any bite whatsoever. I guess you can, at an extreme stretch, read a manic drug high into “Candy Cane Lane”, or some sort of Pleasantville-lite critique of traditional family values into “Santa’s Coming For Us”, but that’s truly grasping at Christmas-wreath straws.
Instead, it’s an album whose constantly chipper, forceful sheen saps Christmas of all its intricacies. If one actual theme can be read out of it – except unfettered glee – it’s consolation, a barrage of positivity and comfort for sad and lovely characters that never become more than vague sketches. It makes you wonder if the whole exercise is therapeutic, Sia’s way of refuting her own history of taking up life’s problems, and covering them in syrup and mistletoe until they drown, and all of adult Christmas with them.