Review: Sabrina Carpenter Brings Her Own Kind of Holiday Spirit with ‘fruitcake’

Musicians have covered just about all the ground they can with traditional holiday songs. There are countless covers of the old standards—”It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “Silent Night,” etc. There are only so many unique ways to pull them apart and put them back together again. Sabrina Carpenter combats that issue with an EP’s worth of original, sugary-sweet Christmas tunes.

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Many artists shy away from writing their own holiday songs. They rarely take off like covers of the traditional hymns do. However, we welcome the addition of fresh tracks to add to our Christmas playlist. They may not ever take the place of the classics, but god do they save us from the inevitable boredom we get about a week into December when we’ve exhausted all the familiar tunes.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind Sabrina Carpenter’s Singles Anthem, “Feather”]

Carpenter agrees with us. The songs are catchy, but they’re overplayed, she sings in the final original song on fruitcake, “is it new years yet?” The up-tempo anthem is the very essence of Carpenter’s musicality. It’s fun, girly, and clever. Carpenter has a unique songwriting voice—one that marries candor with a blithe sense of humor. It’s like digging deep with a friend you’ve known forever. Inevitably, a few laughs are shared between the serious moments. She extends that same practice to each of these Christmas-coded songs.

fruitcake calls to mind the deliciously dirty sensibility of Ariana Grande’s 2015 holiday EP, Christmas & Chill. Both artists swapped the traditional wholesome nature of Christmas songs for something far more tongue-in-cheek.

The opening track on fruitcake is a remixed version of her breakout hit, “Nonsense.” The holiday-centric version of the song was released last year to great appeal. It features great lines like Think I only want you under my mistle toe / I might change your contact to “Has a huge North Pole.” It’s bound to make some listeners blush, but that’s a power Carpenter keeps in her arsenal—and at the ready.

Track No. 2, “buy me presents,” makes use of a classic Christmas shuffle. She makes that vibe her own by adding some sultry quips: Fuck the jet–send the sleigh and It’s a packed holiday and I’ve got options.

“santa doesn’t know you like i do” switches things up for a backing track that could find a comfortable home amongst a Selena album in the ’90s. You’re gonna leave me all alone on Christmas, she sings in a sullen tone. Carpenter employs several different sonic directions on this record, but the unifying factor is the catchiness she can’t help but lean into.

“cindy lou who” seems like a rejected song from her lauded emails i can’t send—and we mean that in the best way possible. If you ignore the references to the holidays, this song feels like a natural addition to the heartbreak-ridden record.

Last, but not least, we have Carpenter’s take on “white xmas.” No matter how many times we hear this song and no matter how much we complain about hearing the same songs over and over, our hearts can’t help but swell when this Christmas classic comes on. Carpenter delivers a stunning retro rendition of the track—one that stands tall next to any other cover of the song.

This six-track EP drops on Friday (November 17) and will certainly be a mainstay for us during this holiday season. We’d be shocked if it didn’t become part of your rotation as well.

Photo Credit: Sarah Carpenter / Lede Company

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