(Un)Covered: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Judy Garland vs The Holidaze By | December 21, 2016 at 1:00 PM

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Writers: Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane
Original Release Date: November 1944

Continuing my breakdown of Christmas covers, I’d have to say the winner of the saddest Christmas song is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, as performed by Judy Garland.

Judy Garland’s distinctive voice truly carries this song as she pours her emotions into the words. She’s a little warbly, but that’s part of what makes the song so charming. It’s a quintessential Christmas song—it’s mostly sad, but since your troubles “will be miles away” for a night, there’s a hint of happiness too. It’s hard to even pay attention to the instruments in this rendition because you’re so busy weeping over how heartbroken Judy sounds, but the simple string arrangement does a beautiful job of providing a base for her vocals without overwhelming her.

Last year, a handful of pop-punkers got together and released a cover under the name The Holidaze. Part of the fun of this cover is picking out the different voices—I’m not sure what John Feldmann sounds like, but everyone else is fairly obvious—plus it brings the joy of having some of your favorite singers serenading you with a Christmas tune. The very best part though is a minute and a half in when they go full pop-punk with some fancy guitar work and a faster arrangement than Garland’s version, making it sound more like an anthem than a carol. The lyrics stay the same as the original, but this fast-paced cover doesn’t sound nearly as depressing—if anything, it sounds happier.

It’s hard to imitate Judy Garland’s voice, and there will probably never be a version that bleeds as much sadness as hers, but can I get a “hell yeah” for a pop-punk Christmas song?