Christmas is traditionally a time to gather with friends, family and lovers around the fire, make happy memories and open presents. But sometimes all you have is happy memories of past holidays running through your head as you chug eggnog all alone on Dec. 25. At least that’s the jingle bummer vibe on Bryson Tiller‘s not-so-jolly new yuletide single “Lonely Christmas,” which dropped like a lump of polished pop coal on Friday morning (Nov. 19).
The track, which features Justin Bieber and his frequent collaborator/co-writer Poo Bear on additional vocals, appears on Tiller’s new seven-track A Different Christmas EP. The collection also has features from Tayla Parx (“Ain’t a Lonely Christmas”), Kiana Ledé (“Presents”) and the Kentucky crooner’s daughter, Halo (“Winter Wonderland”).
The largely acoustic ballad opens with strummed acoustic guitar as Bieber laments what he would normally be doing during the holiday season. “Right now, I be out there shoppin’/ Some of you call it trickin’ off/ The money never meant nothin’/ To see you smile, you know that I’d blow it all/ We used to get our lights from Walmart/ And hang them up for the world to see, yeah,” he sings before dipping into the sad Santa chorus.
“It’s gonna be lonely Christmas/ A lonely broken-hearted Christmas/ No mistletoes, no givin’ kisses/ It’s gonna be a lonely Christmas, yeah, yeah,” Justin serenades. Tiller takes over on the second verse, which chronicles the stress to impress your partner’s family and that time their mom spilled gravy in your ride after she begged you to bring over some food.
“It was almost like every holiday/ Could never ever outdo the last/ And even though it ain’t snowin’ in the desert, girl/ Still the coldest winter I’ve ever had,” Tiller swoons over a banging beat. Poo Bear makes it an inclusive downer, citing “no candles lit for Hanukkah” and lamenting that he might as well be a no-holiday-celebrating Jehovah’s Witness now that he’s learned the real meaning of a “Silent Night.”
Last week, Tiller previewed the project by dropping the track list and writing, “Before we get into my next album, i wanted to share another special project i worked on for you guys. This one was really fun to make. Inspired by Bieber, Ariana, and by one of my loneliest holiday seasons ever.”
Listen to “Lonely Christmas” below.