We couldn’t end the year, or enter the holiday season for that matter, without reviewing a Christmas song (we did it last year with Matisyahu’s ‘Happy Hanukkah’). So this season we’re looking at the new collaboration between The Killers and Dawes entitled, ‘Christmas in L.A.’
If you dig the song, pick it up on iTunes as all proceeds from the song’s sales will go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS. Click here to purchase.
Mike Heyliger: What happens when you take one band I love (Dawes) and have them make a record with a band I absolutely despise (The Killers)? A pretty decent song. I dig it. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.
Nick Porcaro: I’m sorry, but Brandon Flowers just can’t pull off this sort of material. His vocals are especially cringe-worthy next to the sincere singing of Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith. (And by the way, Dawes put out a pretty solid record this year called Stories Don’t End.) As for the song? It’s a syrupy blend of Christmas clichés and pop songwriting tricks 101. Give me Sufjan, Macca, Coldplay, Run DMC, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Dave Matthews, or even The Waitresses. But not this. Verdict: One and Done.
Kelly Gonsalves: I think this song broke my heart a little bit. To specify, knowing that such a legendary band like The Killers put out such a lukewarm, disappointingly bland song like this one is what breaks my heart. It’s not a terrible song; it’s just bland. There’s no spark. The acoustic guitar and keys don’t try anything too fancy and therefore don’t attract much attention, putting total focus on vocals and lyrics. Vocals? Fine. Pretty, even. Lyrics? Painful country ballad with a whole second verse that seems to be borrowed from Nickelback’s “Photograph.” It’s somewhat nice to have a Christmas song that talks about loneliness rather than bouncy, jolly ol’ jolliness, but the boys need to find a way to illuminate the darker parts of the holidays without creating a snoozefest. It was a good idea in theory, but it just wasn’t accomplished well with this nearly boring little ballad. Verdict: One and Done
Kelly Spoer: I LOVE christmas music. No. Really, I have over a day’s worth on my iPod. Everything from Sufjan Stevens to Twisted Sister to The Nutcracker. But this? It won’t make an appearance ever. The only interesting part of the whole song is the last minute or so. Otherwise, it’s boring song that is probably already on in-store christmas music playlists for next year. It’s background music. And a rock band should never strive for that. Verdict: One and Done.
Jason Kundrath: As a fan of Dawes and the Killers, this collaboration had me curious and hopeful. The song, however, fails to play to the strengths of anyone involved. It combines the more “mature” sound of recent Killers – a vibe bordering on adult-contemporary with an earnestly soaring chorus – with the deep, earthy flavors of Dawes, and the results are tepid and even a little cheesy. Flowers, whose vocal talents have always lagged a few clips behind his ambitions, sounds like he could’ve used a couple more takes. In contrast, Dawes singer Taylor Goldsmith is a knockout on the mic, and his verse is the highlight of this track. But even he sounds a bit strained on the chorus which has little to offer to begin with. The lyrics which paint a seriously melancholy picture of life in LA, might move you if you are currently living/working there. For the rest of us, however, this is a one and done scenario. Verdict: One and done.
Jason Stives: The Killers are a rather merry bunch of guys when they aren’t releasing new records. For seven years they have released a Christmas themed charity single and some of them are actually pretty good. This year they partnered with Dawes to make the cheesy yet quite charming “Christmas in LA.” It’s a bit difficult to hate on a song made with a purpose especially since it’s not that bad of a song but it tries to be two different styles as well. Brandon Flowers’ voice swoons and trembles over a lovely acoustic melody to start but when it tries to harmonize alongside Dawes’ frontman Taylor Goldsmith it seems a bit out of place. This reminds me greatly of something Harry Nilsson would have concocted back in the 70s and considering his love for California this doesn’t seem too out of place if we are to compare it. Regardless its a nice single going towards a great cause. This isn’t commercialism this is kindness and so what if its not amazing. It still has heart regardless of how you feel about either band. Merry Christmas from the Singles Party crew! See you next year! Verdict: Add to the Playlist
Bill Bodkin: In many ways I’m a purist when it comes to Christmas music. Since the golden age of Christmas music, which for me probably ended in the early ’60s, there’s very little “modern” Christmas music out there that I enjoy. Run DMC, Pearl Jam, Trans-Siberian, Mariah Carey (I’ll admit it) are the very few that make the list, so it’s an uphill battle to win me over when it come to modern Christmas music. I think “Christmas in L.A.” is better than most modern Christmas jams, but it still falls short. Brandon Flowers seems to be trying really hard to be Bruce Springsteen in this song and it doesn’t work too well. Taylor Goldsmith, on the other hand, is wonderful and I wish he had sung the whole piece with Flowers guest-starring. Outside of the E-Street lite quality of the song, it’s also kind of morbid and sad and for me, that’s not the Christmas music I want to add to my playlist. Give me Nat King Cole or Perry Coumo, all day, all season-long. This song is decent and if you’re into more introspective Christmas tunes, then this is up your alley, but otherwise…Verdict: One and Done.
Final Verdict: Listen, if you dig introspective or more emotional Christmas tunes or you want to support artists who support great charities like RED (like The Killers are) then by all means buy this song. However, the majority of us can’t recommend this as a “must-have” for you holiday playlist.