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HO HO WHO: Keith Urban, the Australian country music star, erstwhile reality TV host, and spouse of Nicole Kidman. He’s been recording music for nearly 30 years, joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2012, and has won nearly every significant award country music gives out, but until now, he’d never released a holiday song. On Nov. 8, he dropped “I’ll Be Your Santa Tonight,” a track tasteofcountry.com calls “a festive love song” and I call “a disturbing, slightly kinky role-play scenario.”
(DON’T) LIGHT MY FIRE: The doo wop-adjacent song starts with Urban explaining all the barriers preventing his loved one from getting in the Christmas spirit: no snow, fog too thick for reindeer to navigate, family members’ disrupted travel plans. But fear not, nameless song subject! Your man is en route with lights, magic, and a plan to make a star for the top of your tree. That all sounds nice until we reach the second half of the chorus, when Urban declares that he’ll be a fire and keep his loved one warm by putting “a kiss on the top of your list,” insisting that “we can be naughty or nice,” and naming himself Santa for the evening. Ick. While I appreciate Santa’s generosity when it comes to traveling throughout the world distributing gifts, I’ve never felt particularly amorous toward the guy and I’ve certainly never wanted to kiss or be naughty with him.
BAD SANTA: Songs about Santa generally fall to the bottom of my Christmas carol rankings because they don’t quite capture the emotional expanse of the holiday season and focus more on public displays of affection between a regular person (Mommy, Urban’s unnamed beloved) and Mr. Claus. Yes, the holidays are lonely, but that doesn’t mean we need to sing about someone’s physical attraction to a 1,749-year-old man. Despite wanting to “be your Santa tonight,” Urban doesn’t even bother to dress up as Santa in the song’s music video. Instead, we get three different Keith Urbans, wearing different styles of bland, black-and-white formalwear and playing different instruments in front of some fake trees.
CHEER FACTOR: 2/10. I’m all for incorporating doo wop stylings into more holiday music, but Urban isn’t even trying here. Christmas is a season of excess and if Urban really wanted to be anyone’s Santa, he’d don a red suit and a white wig and consider this an audition.
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