Compared to Elvis Presley’s 1957 “Blue Christmas” recording, Dashboard Confessional’s take on the song is depressing, dreary and down-right disappointing. Where the first song succeeds at being an ode to a love lost too soon, the later just feels like a cry for help around the holidays. Dashboard Confessional is capable of rousing packed-to-the-gills stadiums with their stripped-down lyrics and instrumentals, but here their simple musicianship doesn’t quite get it done.
You’ve got to admire them for covering this song, though. Besides the King himself, Dashboard Confessional’s following in the footsteps of many, many other artists who’ve tackled the tune, some of whom include Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Harry Connick Jr. With each version, “Blue Christmas” takes on a whole new life. The problem with Dashboard Confessional’s take isn’t that it sounds nothing like its predecessors, it’s that it just doesn’t sound like much at all. Given that it was recorded as part of Spotify’s Singles: Holiday Series, it’s surprising that it’s so devoid of radio appeal. Frankly, this is the kind of song that could kill a gathering or induce sleep. It’s got very little life to it, and it’s missing the sparkle that’s always present on a Dashboard Confessional song.
Just consider this: when Dashboard Confessional was tapped to pen a song for the “Spiderman 2” soundtrack, they turned in the incredible “Vindicated” track and, in turn, became a household name for millions and millions of people who’d never heard of them before. Additionally, without relying on big instrumentals or production tricks, “Screaming Infidelities” still remains one of their biggest songs 20 years after its original release; at its core, it’s just a guy belting out about how devastating it is to have your heart ripped wide open — with a little angsty guitar to round out the message. Whether they’re going simple and acoustic or creating music for a blockbuster film, Dashboard Confessional always seems to get their sound just right. There’s a reason why they’ve been in the game successfully for so long. Their talent is abundant, and they’re able to inspire the masses like few other bands can. That’s why it’s so surprising and sad, frankly, that their take on “Blue Christmas” is such a snooze.
It’s not a complete miss, though. With “Blue Christmas,” Dashboard Confessional is able to shift the vibe of a song that practically everyone knows, and that’s no small feat. Not only do they transform “Blue Christmas” from a campy tune into a grim affair, which is a testament to their impressive artistry, they fearlessly tackle every aspect of the song in a completely new way. Chris Carrabba’s singing is breathy and even shaky at times, but it’s also gut-wrenching and effectively evocative. If you’re going through a terrible breakup and just need to cry it out, this version of “Blue Christmas” should definitely be on your playlist. On the other hand, if you’re trying to host a cheery quarantine holiday party, you might want to skip this somber track.
To listen to Dashboard Confessional’s “Blue Christmas” cover, head over to Spotify’s holiday playlist.
Featured Image: Instagram (@dashboardconfessional)