Christmas Song Cliché Bingo, 2019 Pop Music Edition

Katy Perry in the festive video for "Cozy Little Christmas." (YouTube)

It's that time of year again, when a sizable percentage of beloved musicians refuse to release any new material unless it's bogged down in festive tropes. I know what you're all (probably? maybe? not at all?) wondering: Do 2019's primary contenders for "new Christmas classic" have any staying power? Well, that depends on how many seasonal mentions the singers can cram into a single track. Let me introduce you to a little game I'm going to call... Christmas Cliché Bingo.

The bingo card combines all of the key elements from the two contemporary songs that dominate every festive season: Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You" and "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Feel free to print it out, play along, and use it for drinking game-related purposes throughout the festive season.

Christmas Song Bingo
Christmas Song Bingo

[NB: The "Non-Gift Wishlist" square applies to every mention of wanting something for Christmas that isn't a physical present.]

Let's do this!

Liam Payne, "All I Want (For Christmas)"


The ex-One Direction singer has the distinction of only ticking three boxes on the cliché card, thanks to his bold decision to write a seasonal song about clinging desperately to an unhealthy relationship for reasons that remain entirely unclear.
Best Bit: The complete and total absence of sleigh bells.
Longevity: Almost none. You will probably never hear this again.

Alessia Cara, "Make it to Christmas"

Alessia Cara's seasonal single is basically a jauntier version of Liam Payne's. She too is clinging to a relationship for arbitrary seasonal reasons, except she's added a soupçon of familial guilt to make the whole thing even more unreasonable.
Best Bit: The lyrics "Don’t know what I’ll say to dad when he sees the empty chair / Don’t wanna hear my mom say ‘Told you so’" are so brazenly manipulative, it's astonishing.
Longevity: Only in department stores.

Kelly Rowland, "Love You More at Christmas Time" 

This is the song equivalent of a warm bowl of rice pudding. No one is particularly excited about it, but no one is mad at it either. Feel free to shrug your way through it nonchalantly.
Best Bit: No idea. I've already forgotten how it goes.
Longevity: Only at your auntie's house.

Ne-Yo, "Just Ain't Christmas"

If you want a song that makes you feel seasonal, sexy and sad simultaneously, this is the one for you. Ne-Yo also has the distinction of being the first artist on this list to describe a human woman as if she's a metaphorical gift.
Best Bit: First Christmas song of 2019 you can grind to.
Longevity: Only in The Club.

Little Mix, "One I've Been Missing" 

It's a heartfelt ballad about looking forward to spending the holidays with your boo. Because you spend all year away from your boo. Seems quite specific to being in a touring band, but you do you, Little Mix.
Best Bit: The '60s girl group vibes on the chorus.
Longevity: A couple of years... but only in the U.K.

Jonas Brothers, "Like It's Christmas"

All you need to know is that it's enough of a hand-clap-infused bop that all the clichés become somehow more tolerable.
Best Bit:
The actual sense of joy peppered throughout.
Longevity: Totally dependent on how long Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas appear happy in their marriage.

Lea Michele, "Christmas in New York"

Lea Michele's ode to New York sounds less like a real tribute to the city, and more like a checklist of tourist crap she's crossing off from a brochure. If you've ever wondered what it would sound like if someone wrote a song for the holidays with the express aim of licensing it for a plethora of regional advertising, wonder no more.
Best Bit: The shoutout to Thanksgiving at the start is okay I guess?
Longevity: Will be used on every New York tourist board commercial, every winter, until the end of time.

Taylor Swift, "Christmas Tree Farm" 

All that really matters here is that if you encored this track with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Welcome to New York" and Swift's 2007 Holiday Collection EP, you'd have a full bingo card. The song is fine, but whatever.
Best Bit: The "You-hoo-hoo!" part at the end that sounds like the chorus to "ME!"
Longevity: Probably. But only because it's Taylor Swift.

Katy Perry, "Cozy Little Christmas"  

Is it okay to rhyme "whisky" with "frisky," and "stressin'" with "caressin'"? Of course not. And this Christmas single scores almost a complete card in Cliché Bingo. But it's also the only one that's been stuck in my head all week, so... Goddamnit, Katy Perry, you win.
Best Bit: The plinky piano.
Longevity: Amazon Music subscribers had exclusive access to this a full year ago, but now this earworm has been unfurled on the rest of the world, expect to be cursing it annually for a long time to come.