HO HO WHO: REO Speedwagon is an amiable Midwestern rock group named after an old-timey delivery truck; the band has always been just about as workmanlike as its namesake. Led by vocalist Kevin Cronin, Speedwagon peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s with catchy AOR hits such as “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It on the Run.” The band hasn’t released an album since 2009’s Not So Silent Night … Christmas with REO Speedwagon, but they did recently drop a mildly rockin’ remix of “I Believe in Santa Claus,” a bonus track from that 2009 release.
ROLL WITH THE KEY CHANGES: I think we can all agree that most Christmas songs are sorely lacking in the wailing arena-rock guitar department, and I’m happy to say that REO Speedwagon’s “I Believe in Santa Claus – Remix 2017” does its part to fill that void.
SAPPY HOLIDAYS: I like REO Speedwagon, and I wanted to like this song—which was written by Cronin and bassist Bruce Hall—but I couldn’t fight the feeling that it sort of sucked. An unconvincing, overly slick-sounding ode to childhood innocence, sung in praise of adults lying to children about the existence of Santa Claus, “I Believe in Santa Claus” sounds like nothing so much as the Yuletide counterpart to Bob Carlyle’s “Butterfly Kisses,” or the theme song to some made-for-TV holiday movie starring one of the shittier Baldwin brothers, or something you’d hear over the PA system at Hobby Lobby.
CHEER FACTOR: 3/10. Hobby Lobby is very depressing, and ultimately so is this song.