Sean Rose likes Music Videos: a column by Sean Rose

Hello there everyone. Sean here. I'm not usually one to plug my shows in this column, but there's one coming up that I want ALL OF YOU to attend: CHRISTMAS EDITION: A Very Special Collector's Edition Holiday Show, Party and Fundraiser. It's gonna be at the Upstairs Gallery this Friday, December 13th, at 8pm. And as the title suggests, not only are you gonna get a wonderful Collector's Edition Christmas Special full of wonderful Holiday's Cheer, but there's an actual for-real Christmas party afterwards at the Upstairs Gallery itself! It's going to be oh so wonderful. You've gotta go to this one. I promise that your Christmas will be INCOMPLETE without it.

The good news: I won't be talking about music videos AT ALL in the show, so I can give ya a little bonus and talk about some Christmasey music video stuff that won't get covered in the show! Hooray!!

Now, admittedly, I am going to take the easy route here and talk about my favorite Christmas song of all time: "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" by boy band wunderkinds *NSYNC. Spoiler alert: I will indeed be talking about this song at the show on Friday, but I won't be talking about the video at all! So we can talk about it here!

Here's what makes "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"'s video so great, and by EXTENSION the song itself. Believe it or not, despite being fun hunk bands for young girls to love, boy bands don't have NEARLY as much fun in their music videos as you might imagine. Sad but very true! This is especially true for *NSYNC's contemporaries in the late 90s and early 2000s. Off the top of my head, I can think of TWO music videos in the Backstreet Boys' ENTIRE CAREER that could be called "fun" or "joyous." The rest of them feature dancing in the rain, soulful sad ballads to no one, walking silhouetted in dark-blue-toned hallways. 98 Degrees were even worse, jeez. 5ive. BBMak. Westlife. O-Town. soulDecision were pretty fun, but they were stuck in Canada, so what was the point?

It got so much worse at Christmastime. If you want to suck all the fun out of a boy band, give em a dull-as-doornails original Christmas song to sing. I dare you to watch this video of 98 Degrees singing "This Gift" and NOT fall asleep. Boring as hell!

But not *NSYNC, folks. *NSYNC are all about the fun. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" is a springhtly, sweet, skip-around-the-room-worthy tribute to the joys of the holiday season, and the video is JUST as fun.

Our premise: Santa Claus is sick! On Christmas Eve! Oh no!! His only elf, the late great Gary Coleman, tries to get him off his feet but it is for naught. Thankfully, he comes up with an idea to Save Christmas Forever: hire hunky heartthrobs *NSYNC to fill his shoes! And immediately summons them, with GaryElf Magic!!

(By the way, something I didn't catch til I just rewatched the video: Gary holding an autographed *NSYNC picture the boys sent to Santa. The implication here, of course, is that the *NSYNC boys not only all believe wholeheartedly in St. Nick, but got together to send him a heartfelt missive. I'm sorry, I love this video, just look at this:


So yes, *NSYNC become Santa Claus for one beautiful Christmas. And while this premise alone is great enough and an amazing idea for a classic modern Christmas film teenagers will adore throughout the ages, it's here only as an excuse for the boys to goof around on a Santa's sleigh set in front of a green screen, and that's all it needs to be. It is intentionally shitty and silly, and all the better for it. It's like a Christmasy late-90s version of "Bound 2." Can you imagine anything better than that??

Seeing *NSYNC - a group whose videos were pretty cookie-cutter boy band danceathons before this - loosen up and have a good time is infectious, and  refreshing for a Christmas video. They don't come across as the cocksure pop idols they most certainly were at the time. Just fun loving guys who love to have fun on Christmas. Sure, they engage in some standard teen-group bullshit here - giving food to the homeless here, sharing gifts with small children there - but everything is so loosey-goosey that it doesn't come across as schmatlz. You can tell they're not taking themselves too seriously.

And they shouldn't! Because it's Christmastime! Christmastime is a time of good-hearted cheer and laughter and giving each other hugs and smiling and being nice. The video for "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" is all of this in spades. A perfect Christmas song, and a perfect Christmas video.

Merry Christmas Steamroller! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Come to Collector's Edition this Friday! I love you!

-Sean Rose