The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show was one of my most anticipated watches of the 2019 holiday season. This star-studded, brightly colored celebration of music and holiday cheer premiered during Thanksgiving weekend, just in time for everyone to finally get into the spirit after their turkey-induced haze. Kacey Musgraves is no stranger to Christmas albums. Her 2016 A Very Kacey Christmas, featuring duets with Willie Nelson and Leon Bridges, the latter of whom makes a reappearance in her special, is one of my absolute favorites. All of Musgraves’ duets throughout the special were fantastic, but I’m definitely partial to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Lana Del Rey. Two of my favorite musicians coming together for a beautiful cover of a Christmas standard earned major points in my book.
I was pleasantly surprised by Zooey Deschanel’s appearance, and I’ve listened to her and Musgraves’ duet of “Mele Kalikimaka” almost non-stop for days. With the various artists she pulled together for The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, it won’t be tough to find a song you’ll end up playing on repeat until the end of the season. If Kacey Musgraves is the Queen of Christmas, I say reign on!
During the weeks leading up to her Christmas show, Musgraves gave us glimpses into what was to come: sparkling monochromatic sets; performances with Troye Sivan, Camilla Cabello, Fred Armisen, Lana Del Rey (just to name a few); and an iconic appearance by Musgraves’ Nana. Just from the photos alone, I was already amazed at the production value, not only did the sets look like a dream, but also with a to die for wardrobe. It’s obvious that a lot of work, care and attention to detail went into making The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show become a reality.
Just about every variety show in the ‘60s and ‘70s had a big, end-of-the-year Christmas special that had the whole family gathered around the TV to watch. The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show is just that, a modern artist putting an internet-age twist on a classic medium. Musgraves amps up her own Grammy-award winning and social media savvy star power with some of the biggest names in entertainment, particularly those who’ve more than embraced social media, such as Troye Sivan, YouTuber turned highly successful musician, and Kendall Jenner, one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram. Musgraves continually nods to her special’s roots, which opens on a busy, retro-style TV studio as she approaches James Corden on the brightly decorated living room set, making corny quips about the “snow outside” before their rendition of “Let It Snow.” Dan Levy’s narration frames the special as Musgraves makes last minute Christmas preparations and faces mishaps such as a repairman hammering away during her and Fred Armisen’s duet of “Silent Night.”
The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show is incredibly made and doesn’t disappoint. The songs are fantastic, and I’d been listening to the album before the special had even come out. One could argue that some portions seemed a bit cheesy, particularly a few of the skits and scripted moments during the musical performances, but that’s the point.
If you look to Dean Martin’s 1967 Christmas special, “Christmas with the Martins and the Sinatras,” that same spirit of good-natured theatrics can be found. The special opens with Martin sliding down a fire pole and directly through a cardboard floor. Frank Sinatra, Martin’s close friend and fellow Rat Pack member, pops out of the newly made hole in the floor and quips “Don’t be nervous folks; Dean is fine. He just fell into the wine cellar.” The rest of the special is laced with musical performances and skits from Martin and Sinatra and their multi-talented families, particularly Nancy Sinatra and her Christmas-themed rendition of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin” that flows surprisingly well with Gail Martin’s singing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” It’s a production where you can tell it was fun for both the stars and the audience to be a part of it. Sure, it’s scripted, but it’s genuinely funny and captures the personalities of the Martins and Sinatras so perfectly that you almost forget it’s not improv. Kacey Musgraves brings this same spirit with her Christmas show, and I couldn’t be happier.
I cautiously read the comments section of the YouTube video where I watched the Dean Martin 1967 Christmas special from, and almost every one laments the lack of good ol’ Christmas entertainment like that to be found today. Well, look no further middle-American man who misses mom’s green Jell-o salad, because here comes Kacey Musgraves, saving Christmas and the variety show.