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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: Sabrina Carpenter delivers evergreen holiday hits with ‘fruitcake’

Carpenter’s latest EP, packed with witty lyrics and angelic runs, embodies everyone’s mixed feelings on the holiday season.
Sabrina Carpenter released her new holiday-themed EP “fruitcake” on Nov. 17. (Photo by Sarah Carpenter, courtesy of Island Records)

There comes a time in every pop diva’s career when they must release their version of Christmas music, whether it be through a single, EP or an entire album. 

On Nov. 17, Sabrina Carpenter added herself to this list — and to our collective holiday playlists — with her newest EP, “fruitcake.” A mix of slowed-down classic and calming beats with Carpenter’s flawless voice, the EP is full of songs that can be enjoyed year-round despite their overt holiday references.

Carpenter starts off with “A Nonsense Christmas,” a holiday remix of “Nonsense” from her previous album release, “emails i can’t send.” She released the Christmas version of the song last year as a single, but the decision to make it the first song on “fruitcake” was a smart one. “A Nonsense Christmas” is aptly titled — the lyrics are punny, goofy and unserious. Carpenter knows the song is supposed to be fun, evidenced by her giggles at the start and her iconic innuendo-filled outro. The jingle bells at the beginning immediately put you in the holiday spirit, but it’s much more lighthearted than the nostalgic Christmas feels of other winter albums. After all, when you hear her sing “I need that Charles Dickens,” it’s pretty hard to take anything too seriously.

The next two songs, “buy me presents” and “santa doesn’t know you like i do” are still packed with Christmas references, but the background holiday music is a lot more subtle. Although the songs start off very stereotypically holiday-esque, the bells and whistles fade away once Carpenter’s voice comes in, and the steady drum beat carries them to the end. Both songs are marked with harmonies and flawlessly-executed runs similar to Ariana Grande’s music, but there’s still an air of silliness that makes them unique to Carpenter. She drops an f-bomb here and there and jokes about leaving her man for Santa if he doesn’t spoil her enough, all of which are themes that make the songs a lot more relatable than the traditional, picture-perfect Christmas classics.

The fourth song, “cindy lou who,” is probably the strongest vocally on the album. There’s several moments when the soft piano music fades away entirely and Carpenter just belts out her feelings. Telling the story of somber heartbreak and being alone at a time when everyone else seems to be taken, the song is thematically closest to something that could be seamlessly added onto “emails i can’t send.” In fact, if you ignore the reference to the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” character, I could see myself listening to it every month of the year. Sure, it makes me want to reach for a box of tissues instead of a glass of eggnog — but that’s a good thing, I promise.

The last original song on the album, “is it new years yet?,” feels like a thematic continuation of “cindy lou who.” The narrator is over the lovey-doveyness of the holiday season, and just wants to party. She’s tired of couples and tired of feeling tired. It’s an emotion we’re all too familiar with towards the tail-end of the holidays, and Carpenter expresses it perfectly with the upbeat music and the indifferent tone of the whole song. While everyone else is singing about wanting to cuddle by the fireplace, Carpenter has a different plan for happy couples: she wants to “push ‘em in the fireplace and watch ‘em burn.” She’s “sick and tired of this holiday,” even though it’s not even here yet — and somehow, after listening to the song, so am I.

Carpenter ends the album with a slowed-down, beautiful rendition of “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby called “white xmas.” Her voice is crystal clear, and the song is a reminder that even though her music isn’t always the most serious, she’s seriously talented. I’m pretty sure it’s actually a felony to release Christmas music without covering the song, and Carpenter does it angelically. Enough said.

“fruitcake” is perfectly titled — the EP is sweet, sour and a little nutty. If you’re already tired of hearing about winter wonderlands and cheery romances, I highly recommend you listen to her witty, bittersweet take on Christmas music that I don’t foresee getting old anytime soon.

Contact Naisha Roy at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Naisha Roy, Deputy Managing Editor
Naisha Roy is a second-year studying journalism and Spanish & Linguistics. She loves covering topics like immigration issues and NYU policies. In her free time, she's probably doing the daily crossword or cooking while listening to Taylor Swift. She loves spending her weekends finding cheap food spots around the city with her four best friends. You can reach out to her on Instagram @naisharoy9 if you ever need to rant about how AP Style doesn't use the Oxford Comma.
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