The Christmas single. Anyone who’s witnessed Bill Nighy’s crotchety rock star creation Billy Mack give his all to trounce a manicured boy band in Love Actually knows full well the importance of landing a chart-topping Xmas anthem across the pond. This holiday tradition is less of a fad stateside, with American audiences content in replaying old standards or Mariah Carey’s modern bell-shakin’ classic.
Well, this holiday season brings us a new cheery Christmas anthem—and it isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. It comes from Macy Gray, the gravelly-voiced, Grammy-winning soul singer, and features a bevy of socially conscious lyrics and a chorus that will burrow its way into your noggin and stay there for days.“All I Want For Christmas,” available today on iTunes and Amazon, is equal parts festive and a call to action, imploring people to not be content with material goods this Christmas and try to look at the bigger picture. It advocates for “free health care and gun control”—the latter as relevant as ever in the wake of yesterday’s horrible terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California—as well as empathy for immigrants.“We were researching to try and redo one of the classics, but they’d all been done so we decided to do an original,” Gray tells The Daily Beast. “The usual thing is to do a love song. Then I thought about what I really wanted for Christmas, and as an artist, it’s weird to go in and create without considering the things going on politically and socially.”
The song’s chorus is sung by the Agape Youth Choir from the Agape International Spiritual Center in Gray’s home of Los Angeles, California. And the tune was crafted over the course of a week about a month ago. As far as the animated music video goes, Gray says she “love cartoons” and still watches South Park and The Road Runner. “I’m a cartoon girl,” she chuckles.
Gray’s tune also takes the time to compliment the tenure of President Barack Obama, while throwing in a dig at current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. “That Mr. Trump he’s an entertaining guy, but let’s face it is he really qualified?” sings Gray.“The song is about saving the world and there’s a lot of people leaning in [Trump’s] direction, and I just want them to think about that before they vote,” she says. “You might find Trump entertaining, and it’s seductive when you can’t wait to hear someone share their way-out-of-the-box ideas, but you’ve got to work your way up. You at least have to be a mayor or something!”“He knows how to work the media, but I don’t think that will make him a good president,” continues Gray, adding, “I’m a fan of immigration. I understand that there has to be harsher screening considering everything that’s going on, but Trump is talking about doing things like building walls, and that’s such an ancient idea.”
As for what Gray really wants for Christmas this year, make no mistake about it, it’s right there in the song.“I’m a fortunate girl. I really just want the world to settle down and get it together,” she says. “That’s my plan, and my wish.”