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Released: 2021

Features: Ariana Grande

“Santa, Can’t You Hear Me,” a sparkling duet by Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande, takes listeners on a journey of holiday longing, revealing a deeper yearning beneath the traditional Christmas trappings. At its core, the song is about how the materialistic aspects of Christmas like gifts, reindeer, and twinkly lights pale in comparison to inner desires and personal fulfillment.

Opening verses like “Keep the snow and sleigh rides, keep those silver bells / Keep the gifts beneath the tree, give them to someone else” toss aside the typical Yuletide imagery for something much more profound. Here, Clarkson asserts that the external show of Christmas doesn’t cut it for her. The jolly sleigh rides, shiny silver bells, and gifts tucked under the tree are all just hollow melodies of joy that fail to fulfill her more meaningful yearnings.

The recurring hook – “Santa, can’t you hear me? / I don’t need a thing / I sent a letter to you-ooh-ooh / On how to make my dreams come true” – amplifies the desire for personal fulfillment. Despite the pleas to Santa, the magical figure who’s often regarded as the bearer of tangible gifts, it’s clear that our singers are gunning for a kind of present that can’t be put in a box, nor wrapped with a bow. They’ve spelled out their dreams and wishes in letters – a metaphor for raw, unfiltered expression – hoping that Santa, or the universe, might grant them.

Allusions to common Christmas items continue in verses like “Keep the mistletoe (keep the mistletoe) / All that’s below is what I need” and “Keep those bows and boxes (keep them bows and them boxes) / Keep those three wise men” – further emphasizing that their true desires aren’t grounded in material objects or grand spectacles. Instead, they’re looking for something that isn’t found ‘on a shelf’ or fits ‘below’ the mistletoe.

The chorus pierces with vivid melancholy as they lament, “What I want for Christmas / Hasn’t come and I feel so blue,” expressing a sense of disappointment and frustration. Yet, beneath this despair is a bold conviction, a refusal to settle for anything less than their heart’s true desire.

As they belt out, “Oh, Santa, can’t you hear me? There is one thing that I need,” we’re reminded that their longing runs deep; their wish isn’t a passing fancy, but rather a profound necessity. The recurring plea to Santa reveals a steadfast determination, an unwavering hold on their dream – a dream that’s more valuable than the world’s sparkliest Christmas.

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