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HO HO WHO: Mike Love. You know, the Beach Boys singer and guitarist who still tours under the classic band’s name, even though actual Beach Boys maestro Brian Wilson is still out there doing his own thing. You know, the Beach Boys singer and guitarist who, ahem, is keen on you-know-who and played a 2017 inaugural ball under the Beach Boys moniker, even though Brian Wilson wasn’t there, so was it really the Beach Boys at all? (No.) Anyway, Love’s got a new Christmas album and he’s touring in support of it, with a Dec. 10 stop at Strathmore. (Brian, who got Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin in the divorce, is also on tour, performing The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album in its entirety.)
CHRISTMAS BLOOD FEUD: When I think about the Beach Boys, I eventually wonder how awkward it gets when the extended Wilson clan gets together. Anyway, on Love’s new holiday LP, Reason for the Season, he teams up with a different set of pop-rock brothers of yesteryear: Hanson! Isaac, Taylor, and Zac—who are now, like, dads—released a Christmas album last year called Finally It’s Christmas, including a peppy, horn-laden title track about all the different ways people get excited for Santa time. “You can’t deny there’s something in the air/If you’re in London or in Santa Fe/You’ll hope for snow to fall on Christmas day/Finally it’s Christmas,” they harmonize. In the 2018 cut, Love takes over lead, kicking the brothers to backing vocals, and swapping out Taylor’s competent keyboarding for a few more “oo-ee-oos” and many more bells.
IT’S THE LITTLE FAINT TRICK: Mike Love is 77. Obviously anything he does is going to be a nostalgia play, and in teaming up with Hanson, he’s double dipping. If Hanson had written “Finally It’s Christmas” in their castrati heyday, it would’ve been annoyingly inescapable in every shopping mall for the back half of the ’90s. But in 2017, Hanson’s original—a solidly built, if corny power-pop song—was easily overlooked. A year later, it’s a Mike Love tune overlaid with that Brother Records-esque sheen designed to lure people who want to make America Surfin’ U.S.A. again.
CHEER FACTOR: 4/10; but maybe 2/10 if you’re spending the holidays awaiting sentencing in the special counsel’s investigation.