Song of the Week: “Christmas Swapping” by Mary Evans and Luke Bateman

by Douglas Cowie on 22 December 2017

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Christmas Swapping” by Mary Evans and Luke Bateman:

The music for this song was written by Luke Bateman, who is the brother of a friend of mine, and the lyrics are by Mary Evans (I’m not sure who the singers are). I first heard it when I went to a concert/competition put on by the Iris Theatre. For a few years now they’ve been running a Christmas song competition, in which the audience votes for a winner. This year the songs were all past winners, so it was a kind of champions league of Christmas showtunes. “Christmas Shopping” won back in 2013 (Luke and Mary won another year as well with a different song, “Christmas Table”), though it didn’t win this year’s title.

The song has been stuck in my head on and off since 1 December. It’s got a great melody. It also has endlessly (or anyway, four minutes of) inventive lyrics. It’s no mean feat to write lyrics that tell a story while also punning and creating rhymes that don’t force themselves on the listener, within rhythms that also work. In “Christmas Swapping” the lyrics do all of that, and make it seem effortless. The matching of melody, rhythm, and words make me lean forward to catch every moment; it’s a song that demands attention, then repays it tenfold. It takes a serious amount of work to create a song that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.

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