HO HO WHO: The Lumineers, an indie folk outfit based in Denver, have covered Darlene Love’s deceptively sad 1963 classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Best known for a song that makes frequent use of the word “ho” and having previously covered “Blue Christmas,” it makes sense that The Lumineers have entered the holiday fray this year.
NOT LIKE CHRISTMAS AT ALL: Lyrics are sparse in this Christmas downer, but from what we can gather, the singer is no longer with their “baby.” The Christmas season is making them recall all the good times they had together, however, and they’re taking this opportunity to entreat them to “please come home.” Without them, they say, it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all.
The same could be said of this song. Gone are the bells and the showstopping production found in Love’s original. The Lumineers’ version features naked vocals, a minimalist beat, and minor chords aplenty. Instead of a sick saxophone solo, we get moody plunking on the keyboard. This “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” neither feels nor sounds festive.
DO THEY MEAN IT?: After listening to this song on a loop for 30 minutes I have come to doubt the Lumineers’ genuine desire for their baby to come home. This is a song to listen to when you want to feel sorry for yourself. It is for people whose holiday traditions include sullenly sitting by the fireplace while slowly polishing off a bottle of wine and looking at your ex’s holiday photos on Instagram. It is not a song designed to, in fact, convince that person to come back to you.
Love’s version, on the other hand, proves you can be emotional without being emo, and anyone who hears it would certainly at least consider taking Love back. We’re all for artists who put their own spin on holiday classics, but this version strays too far into self-pity for my taste.
CHEER FACTOR: 0/10. It’s not that the song is that bad, it’s just absolutely devoid of cheer. And not in a kind of fun Grinchy way. Just in a sad, holiday black hole kind of way. There’s certainly a place for sad songs in the holiday canon—we should be allowed to feel the full range of human emotions, no matter the season—but I won’t be adding this song to my holiday playlist.
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