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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

“fruitcake” gifts the seductive holiday spirit

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Clara Faulkner

As the holiday season approaches, it seems Hallmark has called Sabrina Carpenter and given her this spirit’s secrets to create the best modern holiday music of 2023.

On Nov. 17, Carpenter unveiled her debut holiday EP “fruitcake,” injecting a dose of festive joy into a New England devoid of snow. Many artists steer clear of composing holiday tunes, perhaps wary of competing with the enduring appeal of traditional hymn covers. Nonetheless, there’s a genuine eagerness to embrace fresh additions to our Christmas playlists. Though these new tracks may not dethrone the timeless classics, they undeniably rescue us from the inevitable lethargy that sets in around a week into December, when we’ve exhausted all the familiar tunes.

Impressively, “fruitcake” has held its place on Billboard’s Top 200 chart since its release. This holiday release follows Carpenter’s growing popularity as she opens for Taylor Swift during her South America leg of the “Eras Tour.”

As the first track of the EP, Carpenter uses a remix of her famous “Nonsense” to playfully invite her Christmas sweetheart under the mistletoe. Lyrics like “I’m talking decking all the halls / I’m talking spiking eggnog” come alive in this reinterpretation, which has delightful background sounds of jingle bells. Ingeniously reimagining traditional Christmas tunes as a dance-pop extravaganza, the song brings back fond memories while sparking the urge to indulge in some satire this season. 

Carpenter is indisputably carving out her niche as the holiday pop princess. A testament to her festive prowess, the fourth song, “cindy lou who,” is a prime example of her ability to write a holiday ballad that pulls heartstrings and is infused with a distinctive musical flair that stands apart from the traditional offerings we’ve come to expect. The selection of “cindy lou who” as the song’s title hints at a playful homage to the whimsical and nostalgic facets of the Grinch and showcases Carpenter’s artistic audacity, as she elevates the track with a contemporary sensibility. 

What sets the second song on the EP apart, “buy me presents,” is Carpenter’s ability to inject the song with a flirtatious energy. Her sultry quips add a layer of intrigue and playfulness, creating a festive atmosphere that is simultaneously fun and seductive. Carpenter invites listeners into a world where the joy of gift-giving merges seamlessly with a hint of romantic mischief through these nuanced additions to the classic shuffle. 

In a playful twist, she warns her affluent benefactor, otherwise known as a sugar daddy, that he must treat her with the adoration befitting a star. She playfully suggests that should he fall short, she might just trade him for someone “from a city that’s colder,” sprinkling in cheeky references to the iconic figure of Santa Claus. As the holiday season unfolds, it seems Christmas becomes a time for indulging in whimsical fantasies, even in matters of the heart, a theme throughout the EP.

In the song “santa doesn’t know you like i do,” Carpenter takes a playful twist on the familiar Santa references, casting him in a new role—a romantic rival.

“santa doesn’t know you like i do” sees Carpenter taking a notable detour as she embraces a backing track that seamlessly channels the spirit of a classic ‘90s holiday tune. In this refreshing departure, Carpenter pays homage to the musical aesthetic of the era with a contemporary twist, giving the track a timeless quality that feels both nostalgic and new. 

And the fifth track of “fruitcake” is the vibrant original one, “is it new year’s yet?”. This lively anthem embodies the very essence of her musicality—fun, girly, and clever. 

Carpenter’s songwriting voice is distinctly one-of-a-kind, seamlessly blending candor with a carefree sense of humor. Engaging with her lyrics feels akin to delving into profound conversations with a lifelong friend, where moments of levity naturally intermingle with more serious reflections. This delightful approach is consistently carried through to each of her Christmas-themed songs.

With hints of ’90s boy band vibes emanating from “santa doesn’t know you like i do” and a splash of ’70s disco flair in “is it new year’s yet?”, the album is evidence that Carpenter embarked on an exploratory journey with her sound in this musical endeavor.

While fans have already adored tracks like “cindy lou who” and others, “white xmas” stands out as a hidden gem that merits more attention as the closing of the EP. It serves as a heartfelt homage to the cherished artists of Christmas past, skillfully weaving together the nostalgia of Bing Crosby and the sassy allure of Eartha Kitt.

As the concluding piece of Carpenter’s holiday EP, “white xmas” showcases her musical versatility and provides the perfect punctuation to a festive collection. It’s a melodic journey through the ages, a celebration of the classics, and a fitting conclusion to a holiday album that captivates both the old and the new in Christmas music.

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About the Contributor
Clara Faulkner, Managing Editor and Living Arts Editor
Clara Faulkner wears multiple hats at the Beacon, serving as both the Business Director and the Living Arts Editor. Prior to assuming these roles, she demonstrated her expertise as an assistant editor, specializing in living arts—a domain she is deeply passionate about, fueled by her love for pop culture and entertainment. Additionally, Clara served as a writer for the Boston Globe, is a part of NBCUniversal Entertainment Group, and contributed to the music team at Intersect Magazine. In addition to her editorial responsibilities, Clara actively participates in various campus organizations, including SPJ, Associate Entertainment Producer at WEBN-TV, programming director at WECB. fm, and AEPHI. Outside of her writing pursuits, Clara immerses herself in culinary exploration, cinematic enjoyment, and language acquisition, consistently seeking fresh experiences and knowledge.

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