Last Christmas: We listened to this holiday classic until our ears bled for your reading pleasure

By on December 20, 2017

It’s weird how certain songs become part of the fabric of pop culture. Why, for example, do people freak out about Toto’s “Africa” when Big Country’s “In A Big Country” is a significantly better song? What I’m saying is that I don’t understand why “Last Christmas” is the modern holiday song that is endlessly covered. You can’t escape it; no matter where you go this month, you’ll hear someone putting their particular spin on it.

In life, sometimes you just have to embrace the madness, so to see if I can unlock some fundamental truth inside “Last Christmas” I’m listening to every version of it on Spotify I can find … until I run out of inches for this column. God bless us all.

Version One: Wham!

More bands need punctuation marks in their name, except !!!, obviously. Wham! Is the second greatest band of all time to have a ! in their name, behind Godspeed You! Black Emperor. There’s no denying that George Michael’s kills it in the vocal department, and some of the synths are very pretty, but most people aren’t George Michael, so I’m not sure what they’re trying to accomplish to be honest.

Version Two: Carly Rae Jepsen

“Last Christmas” isn’t exactly a weird song to try and jam into the “love is pain” world of Carly Rae, and the production does its best to get the song into her wheelhouse, but this version doesn’t really work. Not the worst song of the Emotion era — “LA Halluncination” is hot garbage — but not essential listening either.

Version Three: Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World is my favorite band, so I dig this a little more than most. It helps that the track is a bit faster, sitting it more firmly in the realm of “happy sad” songs. The fake violin guitar line that dominates part of the song is an interesting stylistic choice, and sounds a lot like something out of “Just Watch The Fireworks,” so this version gets a very biased thumbs up from me.

Version Four: Ariana Grande

The beat isn’t quite sick, but if you’re going to do a modern pop version of “Last Christmas” this isn’t a bad way to do it. Grande has some serious pipes — she does a pretty good version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” naturally — far stronger than this song really needs. In the end, this is perfectly acceptable.

Version Five: Stanaj

I don’t know who this is, but this acapella take on the track is pretty solid. Doesn’t quite pull the emotion out of it that the original does, but you know, again, most people aren’t George Michael.

Version Six: The Cast of Glee

Not today, Satan.

Version Seven: Ashley Tisdale

Did you know Ashley Tisdale has a certified RIAA gold record? Now you do. You’re welcome.

Version Eight: Good Charlotte

I didn’t know this when I decided to start this journey, but Good Charlotte put out a Christmas release this year, and of course this song is on it. And I’m going to be honest with you: it’s actually pretty good. It’s a pretty straight forward cover, the synths being replaced with guitars, but otherwise faithful enough. If you’re holding an emo night between Christmas and now, this will be the big hit of the party.

Version Nine: Gwen Stefani

I mean, it’s no “Oi To The World”, but what is? Close your eyes and imagine what a Gwen Stefani version of “Last Christmas” would sound like; odds are good you imagined this exact song. Whether that’s good or bad depends on how you feel about Miss Stefani.

Version Ten: August Burns Red

Even headbangers get the Christmas blues, but I’m not sure this was the best way to go about getting out that Yuletide rage. Technically proficient, but lacking something to really make it work, August Burns Red gets an E for effort.

Version Eleven: Cascada

It hadn’t occurred to me until now to wonder why Spotify wasn’t serving up any big EDM remix versions of “Last Christmas.” This dance pop take on it kind of scratches that itch, in a sort of generic, store-brand way. Nothing you’d pull up when you want to hear the song, but something you wouldn’t mind in the background of a Christmas party.

We’re past 700 words already? Where does the time go? Sorry we had to cut this short before fully talking about Frank Turner’s awesome acoustic take on it, so maybe go look that up if this whole thing has made you feel dirty. If you ever need to torture someone, I personally suggest the Crazy Frog version. Really, there’s a “Last Christmas” for every occasion, but I’ll be damned if, even now, I can tell you why. Now if you’ll excuse me, me and my double-cup will be over here enjoying the Trap City Christmas album. Happy holidays! PJH

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