My outlook on Christmas music is fairly irrational: in my view, it derives much of its value from the schmaltz and predictability. It’s a genre where we have about ten classic songs and the list of favorites never really evolves. The current “king” of Christmas music ‒ Michael Buble ‒ has built his brand on nostalgia and his “new-school Sinatra” aesthetic. No one is really bringing anything new to the genre, and that’s okay. The holidays are built on nostalgia and predictability, so it is only right that the music of the season mirrors this feeling.
So you can probably imagine my skepticism when I first listened to Kate Nash’s angsty take on Christmas music. The irony and incongruity of infusing Christmas music with pop punk hooks is apparent, and Nash dives into the incongruity from the first track. “I Hate You This Christmas” is an angry anthem to anyone who’s been wronged by a boyfriend or girlfriend around the holidays. The chorus is admittedly catchy. Yet, when you look at it as a whole and realize that it works somewhat as a punk song and fails at in any way resembling a Christmas song, you can’t help but wonder what the point is.
From there, Nash muddles her way through “Silent Night” and “Auld Lang Syne,” approaching both classics with a sense of almost sarcastic detachment. Nash has a pretty voice, but both songs are entirely devoid of any feeling. If it’s meant as an amusing “eff-you” to the schmaltz of classic Christmas music, it doesn’t work. It instead feels like a waste of time. Christmas music, by nature, is rarely based solely on its musical merits. It serves a function by setting a mood and having an inextricable link to the tradition of the genre that it cannot help but uphold in some way. Nash’s album doesn’t work in either way. The genius of some of the modern Christmas “classics” ‒ I’m mainly talking about Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” ‒ is that they works well as pop songs and still undoubtedly embrace the trappings of the genre. As a pop punk album, Have Faith With Kate Nash This Christmas isn’t worthless. There are some nice hooks, the choruses are pretty fun in places, and Nash is certainly charismatic. But its conflation with Christmas music renders the whole thing cheap and fairly pointless.