Deal With It: Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Songs For Christmas’ Is One Of The Best Holiday Albums, Ever

Photo courtesy of Asthmatic Kitty Records

Let’s always boogey to the elf dance

As far as holiday albums go, you're never going to find one as peculiar as Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas. The expansive five-disc project (and its 2012 follow-up, Silver & Gold) subverts traditional expectations of the genre while still delivering the warmth most holiday albums wont to do. It's a textured collection of seasonal classics and Stevens originals that are both joyful and a little mournful. The 10 years that have passed since its release have not stopped it from polarizing audiences. You either love it, or you don't. But, in a season dominated by electric guitar renditions of "The Nutcracker Suite" and old-school crooners, Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas remains one of the most refreshing holiday albums, ever.

I was first introduced to Stevens while driving through the countryside in central New York. A song of his came on one of my friend's mix CDs, and I was hooked. Popular music was just beginning to be infiltrated by quirky indie acts and college radio was moving mainstream, and my pop-punk heart was intrigued. My friend graciously burned me each and every one of Stevens' albums, including the holiday ones. Come Christmas, I interrupted my parents' constant rotation of Jim Brickman's The Gift and Mannheim Steamroller with Songs For Christmas.

At first, no one said anything. I felt authentic and decidedly hip. Another holiday season goes by and no one says anything about Stevens filling our house. Another season, same thing. Then one night, while we were setting up for dinner, my dad said, "Let's not listen to that weird shit you're always playing." The shock I felt was akin to when I found out most people outside of my suburban bubble did not enjoy Dave Matthews Band. How could anyone not like Songs For Christmas? There's a song about boogying to the elf dance, for Pete's sake! Sure, it exists way out in left field, but it's got charm, it's got heart, and it's got joy. It's melancholy, but it's nostalgic; a timeless piece of holiday cheer for the Xanga-turned-MySpace generation. It's fucking great from its out-of-tune choirs to its blinking chimes, all the way down to the brilliantly sorrowful tune, "Sister Winter."

Songs For Christmas is really five holiday EPs recorded by Stevens over five years (2001 to 2006). It's so earnest in its delivery that irony has no place in its world. Stevens' take on Christmas classics, like "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and "O Holy Night," are twee but not annoyingly so. It's coffee shop fodder for the hipster soul. If that's cliche, then so be it. It's 2016: Disinterest and being "above it" does not fly anymore. A famine of sincere work has plagued our culture at large. Stevens' ambitious holiday album touts songs like "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!" and "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It)." Do you expect the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to be as audacious in its irreverence? No. Stevens' Songs For Christmas exists in a world of its own, imaginative and pure. And, after a miserable year like this, its coziness is welcome. "Let's be glad/ Even if the year's been bad/ There are presents to be had/ A promotion for your dad," he sings on "It's Christmas Let's Be Glad." If you say so, high prince of indie expression. If you say so. 

Screenshot via Youtube

While the song should serve as a reminder to your exes

Just a day after dropping new single "Nunya," featuring Dom Kennedy, Kehlani has released the winter-wonderland visuals to go along with. The singer, NYLON November cover star, and mother-to-be rocks some of the best winter 'fits I've seen in a while, including a glorious puffer jacket that could double as a down comforter that I absolutely need in my life right now.

Kehlani is clearly living her best life up in some snow-filled forest hideaway, vibing on the beach at sunset and sipping on something bubbly as she coolly reminds nosy exes that who she's with is "nunya business." There's not much of a story line (unlike her recent "Nights Like This" video); the main takeaway is that Kehlani is busy dancing through a forest, missing no one and chilling amongst people who are clearly not the subjects of the song.

Kehlani is only two short months away from bringing baby Adeya into the world, who she thanked for helping her get through the video process. "Shot that 7 months pregnant in da snow..." Kehlani wrote on Twitter, adding, "thank u baby for da motivation, mommy was FROZE."

Even from the womb, Adeya has been hustling hard alongside her momma. Twitter user @ODtheMC pointed out that this is already her second music video appearance, and she's not even been born.

Get some mulled wine ready and escape into Kehlani's winter getaway, below. Stay tuned for her forthcoming mixtape, While We Wait, out on February 22.

Kehlani - Nunya (feat. Dom Kennedy) [Official Music Video]



Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images.

As in Black Panther Political Party leader

It's been a running joke that the Black parents/grandparents of millennials were really confused about all of the Black Panther hoopla ahead of its 2018 release. Many of them were anticipating a movie about members of the Black Panther Political Party and didn't know who the hell T'Challa was. Well, those people are about to have their moment, and we're about to have another one.

Variety is reporting that Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader at the center of the upcoming biopic Jesus Was My Homeboy, could be played by none other than Daniel Kaluuya. Apparently, he is in negotiations for the role. And he's not the only Black Panther alum in the mix. The Warner Bros. project is being produced by Black Panther director, Ryan Coogler. The same article reports that the forever swoon-worthy Lakeith Stanfield—who appeared with Kaluuya in Jordan Peele's Get Out—is also in negotiations, to play William O'Neal, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Black Panther Party.

Coogler and Charles King are putting together a dream cast to tell a difficult story. Hampton was killed by the Chicago Police Department, while his pregnant girlfriend lay next to him, thanks in part to information they received from O'Neal. Whenever it's out, I strongly recommend having Black Panther queued up as a palate cleanser.