Enjoy these Christmas recordings while you can, for humming these tunes is forbidden after the new year.
Eric Clapton, Happy Xmas
The holiday season is fabulous because it’s tasteless. If you live in a capitalist society, this monthlong celebration of commodity fetishism is for you. By now the buzz of dopamine we feel when looking at commodities is so strong we can derive significant pleasure merely from wandering around a mall for hours, without buying anything, just delighting in the sparkle. Such is my relationship to Christmas music. The assorted gems reviewed below represent a tradition valuable for how it reveals the inner workings of mass sentiment. Enjoy them while you can, for humming these tunes is forbidden after the new year.
Eric Clapton: Happy Xmas (Brushbranch/Surfdog, 2018)
Unexpectedly, Clapton’s minimalist blues mesh coherently with classic Christmas pop, perhaps because two separate traditions of sentimentality are colliding. His technical skill, evident in his loose, laid-back, absent-minded guitar noodling, is as reassuring to fans of power blues as “White Christmas” and “Sentimental Moments” are to the collective American heart; the result is a brand of synthetic all-purpose pumpkin pie so rarefied it evaporates into ether…