Ten families got a huge surprise on Oct. 31, when they rang the doorbell of a Nashville-area home elaborately decorated on the exterior for Halloween. They were greeted at the door by tuxedo-clad country star Brett Eldredge, who ushered them inside where — instead of a Halloween theme — a winter wonderland awaited instead, complete with ice skaters, Christmas trees and real snow.
It was all part of an elaborate prank staged by Target to promote Warner Music Nashville artist Eldredge’s recently released Christmas album, Glow, which features three additional holiday standards on the brand’s exclusive deluxe edition.
Led by director/producer Jeff Tremaine (Jackass), a production team of about 40 people spent several days transforming the home and outfitting it with hidden cameras. Another nearby house was turned into a staging area where the families — who knew only that they had been invited to a Target-sponsored event — could pick out costumes, get their faces painted, visit a palm reader and hit up a candy bar while they waited for their turn to move on to the second home where, unbeknownst to them, Eldredge awaited.
Once inside, Eldredge crooned “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” to the families as he guided them into a hallway where a backdrop fell to reveal three women in sequined red dresses doing a synchronized skating routine. The families then moved on to a room decked out with a stage, actors portraying a swing band backing Eldredge, Christmas lights and a spinning disco ball. As the singer pulled children up on stage to dance with him, cold, wet snow fell from the ceiling for a big finale. The families were handed candy and copies of Glow as they left.
Video of the prank will appear on Eldredge’s and Target’s social media pages in the coming days.
With exactly the right outgoing personality to fit the prank, Eldredge had a hand in planning the experience. “I told [Target executives] the best way I work a lot of the time is unscripted,” he told Billboard.com on the set. “Just give me a general idea and let’s just make it random and fun and it will be more real. So the idea of shocking people when it’s Halloween and we’re promoting a [Christmas] album … is one of the most fun and crazy ideas that I’ve gotten to be a part of. I love the work that Jeff Tremaine has done, and to be able to get to work with him and Target and have a skating rink in a house, and skaters and a whole band and snow falling from the sky … it’s so weird, and I love it.”
“I’d get up every morning and get in my Christmas mode,” he says of the week they spent recording in a studio decorated with Christmas lights. “I’d put my suit on and pour a little whiskey. In my mind I was letting it snow and walking in a winter wonderland.” But he admits he was nervous about the process at first. “I’ve sung with big horn bands before, and big orchestras, but not to this level with these kind of players. When I walked in there and I heard the feeling of those trumpets and trombones and saxophones, all that in your face in the room, it was the best energy, the best drug that you could ever get.”
Eldredge calls the album “the best thing that I’ve gotten to be a part of yet in my career.”
He chose 10 standards (13 for the Target edition, which includes “Blue Christmas,” “O Holy Night” and “The First Noel”), but the title track is an original song Eldredge wrote with frequent collaborator Ross Copperman. He felt the pressure to live up to the quality of the beloved standards on his set with his own song.
“If I’m going to put only one original song on an album full of classics, I have to at least make it sound like it could have been recorded 50 or 60 years ago,” Eldredge says. “That is a steep hill to climb.” But after sending Copperman voice memos with his lyric and melody ideas for the song, the two got together and knocked it out in an hour and a half. “It just felt classic. It felt real,” he says. With an arrangement from Mounsey and a 30-piece band on the recording, Eldredge says, “We nailed it.”
A longtime lover of the holiday who used to make his own Christmas sweaters, Eldredge says, “I feel like I’ve been planning to record this album since I was 10 years old… This year I will finally get to decorate the Christmas tree at my mom’s to [the music of] my own Christmas album.”