St. Vincent’s Sad ‘At the Holiday Party’ Is 2021’s Best Christmas Song

The best holiday song of the year isn’t on a Christmas album. It’s St. Vincent’s “..At the Holiday Party,” a track from her album “Daddy’s Home,” which takes a look at the other side of seasonal revelry — that feeling of being alone in the crowd and trying to put on a festive face while living a life of quiet desperation. It’s a song for anyone who, in the midst of people concerned about tracking their lost shipments, is actually losing their shit … or just who, like the song’s narrator, is able to pick out the partygoer who’s just barely keeping it together.

“It definitely had to be a holiday party. Thats when people are really imbibing and stuff like that,” says Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, discussing the song with The Hamden Journal. The kind of encounter described in “…At the Holiday Party” could happen any time of year, theoretically, but a Christmas party is “a completely different feeling, I think. Because the season is extra reflective, when it’s melancholy, it’s extra melancholy. We’re not talking about a Rose Day summer soiree. We’re talking about cold outside, end of the year — ‘What have you done? What are you gonna do next year?’”

The narrator of the song is seeing behind the facade of a friend who may be dealing with unfulfilled dreams as well as solitude (“Are you still working on your screenplay / Or did those lights go out on Broadway?”), and whose Gucci purse’s self-medicinal contents betray what her face is working overtime to conceal.


“I’ve definitely been on both sides of that,” says Clark. “I’ve certainly been the girl who’s revealing herself by the things she’s trying to hide with consumption of all kinds. But I’ve also been the person who has seen that. Somebody’s laughing and smiling, but you see that little crack. And you’re like, ‘Oooookay. I see you.’ So I can write it” from both sides.

The Greek chorus of female background vocals that St. Vincent employs throughout the “Daddy’s Home” album builds to a peak here as they sing: “You can’t hide, you can’t hide from me.” Clark had a model in mind for how the song crests with that chorale, even if her song ends up being a bit warmer and more hopeful than its classic-rock template.

“To me, it was sort of a feminine version of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ for 2021. That was in some ways an ode to the Stones, a little bit,” she says.

Listen to the track, above, and read the lyrics, below. And may human connection be all the Christmas opiate the masses need.

At the holiday party
Red wine-lipped a little early
Reminiscing got us laughing
That’s when I saw your face cracking
Smiles and smoke and screens
Your Gucci purse a pharmacy
Pretend to want these things
So no one sees you not getting
Not getting what you need
You can’t hide from me

Are you still working on your screenplay
Or did those lights go out on Broadway?
Think if you can just keep spinning
You won’t miss what you’ve been missing
Pills and Juuls and speed
Your little purse a pharmacy
And hide behind these things
So no one sees you not getting
Not getting what you need, need
Need, need
You can’t hide, you can’t hide from me