A Nontraditional Holiday Approach

When it comes to Christmas music, the population seems to have varying reactions.  There are people who love it and think it embodies a good time of year.  But there are also people who (understandably) get tired of hearing some of the same songs over and over again.  For the most part, I consider myself somebody who appreciates it, but some songs do get old, and I always find it compelling to come across more modern, holiday-themed songs from artists that I love.

My favorite song along these lines is also by one of my favorite artists, Imogen Heap.  “Just For Now,” from her 2005 album Speak For Yourself, takes a different tack from other holiday songs.  With her trademark breathy vocals and a light, electronica melody backed by strings, Heap doesn’t speak to romanticized notions of snow and flawless memories created with loved ones.  Instead, she uses humor to tell a story of a less-than-ideal get-together that probably sounds like holiday experiences to which many can relate.

The verses are filled with stories of bickering, burnt food, and disapprovals, all in the holiday season, in some sort of a family occasion.  (Though I associate the song particularly with Christmas, the song never celebrates and could function for any occasion that involves a family gathering.)  The cadence of Heap’s singing combined with little touches such as the rhythmic, audible sniffing prior to the line, “I think something is burning,” bring it all to life.

In the end, the song is a little bleak, but also serves as a cathartic song for those who may dread family occasions, or just as a fun song that recognizes that, no matter how much you love your family, everything doesn’t always go off without a hitch.  If the holidays for you are about getting through, biting your tongue, and putting aside differences “just for now” rather than the fantasized notions of spending snowy days curled up by the fire and telling fun stories, then Heap’s nontraditional holiday composition is the song for you.

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