Track of the Day: 'Fa La La'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Tis the season to drown in holiday music (check out our “12 Days of Christmas Songs” series), but legends must be paid respect. And the one true and pure Christmas carol is, of course, “Fa La La” by Justin Bieber featuring Boys II Men. This song is sacred and does not need defending, but for the non-believers:
  1. What is more strange and passionate than an adolescent and three grown men singing to their unnamed love? About their soft desire to listen to her chest? Mixing tenderness, the holiday spirit, a bop of a staccato hook, and some very dope arm and upper-body improv in the video? This is the reason for the season.
  1. The music video is also a work of art. Look at young Bieber widen his eyes at the 0:29 mark, right after singing “when you open your eeeeyes.” Symbolism. Brilliance. Then Shawn Stockman’s very extra, very necessary run at the end, with his finger in the air running alongside, like a lifeline for his vocal cords. And shoutout to a legend, the subtle reference to Yung Joc’s glory era at the 2:05 mark.
  1. There is nothing holier than these lyrics: “Baby I hear melodies when your heart beats/Baby it sings to me like/Fa la la la la, fa la la la la/I know that it's Christmas time.” Who has sung of a heart marking the passage of time? What can be more divine? Boys II Men and Jus are (basically) singing: “Your heart is a jingle bell, your love is hallowed ground.”