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How John Williams Made ‘Home Alone’ Sound Like Christmas

There’s a lot more to composing a banger Christmas soundtrack than sleigh bells.
Home Alone
20th Century Fox
By  · Published on December 24th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about why Home Alone has the best Christmas soundtrack.

It’s that time of the year again folks. An unmistakable din of bells, carols, and hallowed Christmas classics has invaded every grocery store, pharmacy, and retail outlet.

And as you make your way down produce aisles to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman” (or if you’re really lucky, the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers collab album “Once Upon a Christmas”), here’s a question worth mulling over: what makes a song sound like Christmas?  Is it as easy as throwing in a volley of sleigh bells here and there? Can the effect be achieved by merely name-dropping keywords like “fireplace” “snow” and “home”?

Well, as the video essay below suggests, the answer may lie in the 1990 holiday classic Home Alone, which features one of the most “Christmassy” scores of all time. Directed by Chris Columbus, the film sees eight-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Kulkin) making the most of his newfound independence when his family accidentally leaves him behind during the holidays. And by “newfound independence” we of course mean “defending his home from two burglars” with the imaginative menace of a villain from the Saw franchise.

The film’s score, by none other than John Williams, is an incredibly solid case study in what makes music feel like the holidays. As the video essay below underlines, Williams is fully aware of the key role cycles of nostalgia play in the holiday and the music associated with it. Made up of old classics befitting the nostalgic thrust du jour (the 1950s), Williams’ score also features original carols that emulate the real deal so seamlessly, they’re difficult to pick out from the crowd. So grab a mug of hot apple cider, suck on a candy cane and cozy up for this look at why Home Alone feels like Christmas from a musical point of view.

Watch “Why Home Alone is the Best Christmas Soundtrack Ever”:

Who made this?

This video about why Home Alone has an incredible Christmas soundtrack is by Sideways, a video essay channel whose work goes deep on music, movies, and music in movies. Their videos interrogate a lot of issues in movie music that may not be noticed by the untrained ear, but have a huge impact on the film. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.