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HO HO WHO? Lucy Dacus, the Richmond-born-and-raised singer-songwriter and darling of the indie music scene, both as a solo artist and part of supergroup boygenius. Dacus’ newest release, a seven-song EP titled 2019, is a collection of songs either written or covered in order to commemorate American national holidays (well, one is Bruce Springsteen‘s birthday, so take that with a grain of salt). “Last Christmas,” the closing track, is obviously pegged to Christmas.
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I DON’T WANNA BE FESTIVE ANYMORE: Dacus updates the original synth-driven track with uptempo guitars, and the drums recall Wham!’s percussion in a pleasant way. Instead of singing the schmaltzy lyrics, she speaks them with an edge. But it brings me no pleasure to report that even the effervescent Dacus can’t overcome the limitations of her source material. “Last Christmas” simply sucks, and even though at 2:42, this track nearly cuts the original in half, it’s a slog. Still, it’s fun to see the sometimes melancholy and often folk-inspired Dacus totally rock out, especially in the outro, which is full of fuzzy guitars, ringing bells, and a cathartic yell. She knows she has the voice of an angel, and she doesn’t feel the need to use it much on this cover, trying new things instead. Good for her!
I KNOW WHAT A TOOL I’VE BEEN: Look, I’m sorry for defaming “Last Christmas.” It is an earworm, and one of the flaws of Dacus’ cover is that it loses the infuriatingly catchy, bouncy vocals that made the first version so popular in the first place. It’s a quick and dirty rendition of a song that’s been better served by pop divas putting their hearts into the lyrics.
CHEER FACTOR: 5.5/10. That score is pulled up a bit because the song has bells chiming in the background (an instant cheer boost), and because Dacus is just so damn likable. It’s not a masterpiece, but if you’re an angry punk stuck in an artificially cheery season, put this song on.
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