Alone On Christmas Day by THE HIGH PLAINS DRIFTERS is a holiday song with an edge of melancholy. It provides a different perspective than the cheery Christmas bangers that can become stale year after year.
This refreshing outlook, founded on eighties-inspired yacht rock, is built up by layers of synths and subtle guitar work. I love the guitar embellishments and trills that come with the line “Who are you spending Christmas with this year?” it emphasises the anxiety present in the lyric.
The chorus utilises a bright and shiny timbre that defines the seasonal sound through bells that outline the melody. Combining this sound with the lyrics “I’m all alone on Christmas day” creates this complex juxtaposition between the bright timbre and the introspective lyrics. It implies that the cheer of the situation is, if anything, bringing our protagonist down even further.
We don’t generally talk about the videos during these music reviews. However, the video was so engaging I found it genuinely difficult to separate it from the song. The confidence to kill off Santa two minutes into a five-minute track and then move past it like a minor beat shocked me. I also liked the exposition cards that each of the lovers has. It lends the video a tongue-in-cheek atmosphere while delivering the narrative.
The vocals are an emotionally resonant aspect. They convey a charisma that makes the delivery feel effortless. I like the autotune used during certain sections; it changes the song’s landscape and diversifies the timbre. The use of subtle vocal harmonies is a compelling choice. With the context of the video, it feels like they were hinting at the relationship the protagonist finds at the end through the unity of their voices. This connection between the track and the video adds cohesion that elevates both parts.
I’m impressed by THE HIGH PLAINS DRIFTERS’ spin on a holiday classic and the attention to detail that went into the vocal performance.