In 2001, Destiny’s Child were on top of the world. In May, they released their third album Survivor which had record-breaking first week sales, two #1 singles and two more top 10 hits. They headlined MTV’s TRL tour that summer, and were literally everywhere. That fall, they announced that they would embark on solo projects… but not before releasing a Christmas album. Their holiday set, entitled 8 Days of Christmas, was released on October 30, 2001.
Actually, the group’s foray into Christmas music began in 2000 with the recording of two original tracks. The group lent their talents to a second curated Christmas album by Rosie O’Donnell (yes, you read that right; what a time, chyle) via the song “Spread a Little Love on Christmas Day.” On a special edition rerelease of their sophomore album The Writing’s on the Wall, they also included what would go on to be the title track and lead single of their Christmas album, “8 Days of Christmas.” Beyoncé co-wrote and co-produced both original songs. Though they may sound a bit dated (especially with the Rosie shout out on “Spread a Little Love”), they are both undeniable bops, and the basis upon which the idea for the a Destiny’s Child Christmas album was born.
It’s no surprise that the girls’ label wanted them to do a Christmas album: they were signed to Columbia Records, which was also home to Celine Dion and Mariah Carey (until 2001), whose Christmas albums were monster successes in the 90s. Like Mariah and Celine when they released theirs, Destiny’s Child were at their peak stardom, so what better time to make their mark on the holiday music landscape? Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle somehow found time in their busy schedules to record covers of a handful of Christmas standards, but also craft a few new tracks, as well.
I briefly chatted with Michelle, not for a formal interview, but just to see if she had any anecdotes to share about her memories attached to 8 Days of Christmas. She recalled that, “It was a very busy time! We were touring and having to find an hour here and there to record!” That certainly tracks; as a fan then and now, I remember being surprised when they announced the Christmas album. My reaction was like, “when did y’all have time to do this?!” Nevertheless, I was perched at home on Halloween at 11 years old, not trick-or-treating, but bopping to Christmas music instead. Anyway, Michelle also hilariously recounted that there might have been some “sinus infections and tons of congestion on a few of the songs!” If so, we would have never known, because the vocals on 8 Days of Christmas are one of its highlights.
Upon its release, reviewers weren’t exactly kind to the trio’s take on Christmas. In fact, I remember writing a scathing response to one Tracy E. Hopkins (I still remember her name to this day) for the way she dragged the album in her Rolling Stone review. I was eleven years old at the time, so surely that was not my finest nor most mature piece of writing. Twenty years later, I can understand why critics didn’t quite get the album. In 2001, most Christmas music adhered to the notion that it should be able fit in with the classics. While that remains true today for the most part (especially if you want your own perennial hit like Mariah Carey’s), things have evolved a bit. Dare I say, Destiny’s Child made it cool to make Christmas music that sounds more modern. They took their early 2000s sound, tossed in some sleigh bells and tidings of comfort and joy, and said “Merry Christmas, from Destiny’s Chiiiild!” The ladies harnessed their “girl power” and channeled it into a festive moment that, 20 years later, still has fans saying, “yes it feels like Christmas!”. Plus, the new girls since have definitely taken note: from Ariana Grande’s Christmas and Chill, to JoJo’s December Baby, it’s clear there is a market for more modern sounding Christmas music. It’s time to embrace the modern Christmas bop, people; give Phil Spector’s wall of sound a rest.
Twenty years have passed since Destiny’s Child released 8 Days of Christmas, and while the album might not sound like what most consider to be “classic” or “timeless” Christmas music, it gave us several gems and holds a special place in my heart. Surely, any Destiny’s Child fan must feel the same. In celebration of the album, I have ranked all 14 tracks: the 12 from the original release, plus its two 2005 bonus tracks.
8 Days of Christmas, Ranked
14. Little Drummer Boy (featuring Solange)
“Little Drummer Boy” is one Christmas song that I just do not like, and not even my favorite artist Destiny’s Child can save it here. Still, it was cute to hear a young Solange again join the trio for this Christmas moment. Four years later, she would pen an original Christmas song for the girls. More on that one further up the list.
13. Platinum Bells
A spin on the carol “Silver Bells,” DC3’s “Platinum Bells” is more like an interlude on the album. It’s cute and fun, but clocking in at 90 seconds in length, it doesn’t quite stack up to the rest of the songs.
12. Silent Night (Beyoncé’s solo)
I might get dragged for this, but I hope the Hive can find it in their hearts to chill this holiday season. I was in the BeyHive before there was a Hive, so let’s not okay?! “Silent Night” has never been my favorite Christmas song… I’ve always found it kind of boring, to be frank. Yes, it’s a beautiful song and I can respect it as such, and most talented vocalists tackle it gorgeously, but I can never really get into it. Maybe once per season, maybe during a live performance, but, otherwise… I usually skip it. Beyoncé serves up some vocal acrobatics on her version, as expected, though at times it does feel like a bit too much.
11. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
The ladies’ rendition of “Rudolph” ranks this low not necessarily because I don’t love their version, but I just don’t really adore this song in particular. Of course, it’s a classic and conjures up childhood memories, but it’s still a children’s song at its core, so I listen to it sparingly. That being said, they certainly sound great here. Their version was not released in 2001, though. It sounds as though it was recorded then (I asked Michelle, she couldn’t remember), but it wasn’t released until 2005. They promoted it with an adorable claymation video that acted as a cross promotion for the 2005 DVD rerelease of the classic 1964 animation film. The song was also added to 8 Days of Christmas as a bonus track for its 2005 rerelease on DualDisc (surely the kids have NO clue what that is!).
10. White Christmas
Though it might be of the shortest Christmas carols, “White Christmas” is also one of the most beloved. Destiny’s Child takes it on similar to how they later collaborated on Michelle’s “Say Yes” – they each sang the carol through once, putting their individual vocal spins on it on each go-round, and layering it up with their signature harmonies. They sound great doing so, of course, but it sort of leaves us begging for more. This might’ve been another moment to go the “medley” route, perhaps mixing it in with “Winter Wonderland” or “Let It Snow,” to make the moment last a bit longer.
9. Do You Hear What I Hear? (Kelly’s solo)
For her solo track, Kelly chose to take on a religious song as well. Modeled after Whitney Houston’s definitive version of the classic, Kelly’s rendition of “Do You Heart What I Hear?” is simply beautiful. Kelly has made it well known that she has always been a huge Whitney fan, so it is no surprise that she was heavily inspired by Ms. Houston for this cover. Had she differentiated her version a bit more, it might rank higher here. Still, don’t let its placement here take away from the fact that the Kelly’s version is well worth a listen and placement on your Christmas playlists!
8. This Christmas
The trio takes on Donny Hathaway’s classic “This Christmas,” giving it an early 2000s modern twist musically, with a vocal arrangement that is mostly faithful to the original. The fact that it’s a trio singing the song, each taking their own verse, helps to differentiate the Destiny’s Child version from the many other covers (most good, some bad) that exist of this classic.
7. A “DC” Christmas Medley
As the title suggests, this is a medley of Christmas classics, with a Destiny’s Child spin. The trio sleighs through bits of several holiday favorites: “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” with “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” functioning as the song’s hook. It’s a clever way to quickly bop through these short little classics, and works especially well as a group moment, which each of the ladies leading a carol of their own.
6. Home For the Holidays
“Home From the Holidays” is a song recorded for a Walmart ad campaign in 2005, and was included on a Walmart-exclusive edition of the album. Co-written and co-produced by Beyoncé’s sister Solange, “Home For the Holidays” is yet another Christmas jam by the trio. Truly, its beat slaps, and is good enough to be a non-Christmas song. However, its lyrics about going “home for the holidays” to celebrate with family make it a bop fit for the holidays. If it was a little more Christmas-y, musically, it’d likely rank higher on my list. Still, I love the song, and I am so glad that it was finally uploaded to streaming this year!
5. O’ Holy Night (Michelle’s solo)
Of course, Michelle Williams reminds us of the true reason for the season with her solo number, a gorgeous cover of the classic hymn, “O’ Holy Night.” Produced by her brother Erron Williams, Michelle’s rendition is a fresh, soothing reimagining of the heavenly hymn. The song was actually the first time fans ever got to hear Michelle solo track. She masterfully glides through the lead vocals, and the layered background vocals. Michelle’s version remains one of my favorite takes on “O’ Holy Night.”
4. 8 Days of Christmas
With its simple refrain of “Doesn’t it feel like Christmas? Yes, it feels like Christmas!” this song is one that never fails to conjure up the Christmas spirit within. Sure, it’s one of those love songs with a little Christmas cheer sprinkled on top. Some might call the song “superficial” because its verses are about all of the gifts “mybabygaytame” but let’s remember, the song is clearly inspired by “12 Days of Christmas,” which is just the same. Ultimately, the song is a fun, festive romp that is the perfect combination of early 2000s pop and cheer-full Christmas vibes. Also, you’ve gotta love the Tina
Knowles Lawson designed Sexy Santa outfits they wore during the promo tour.
3. Spread a Little Love on Christmas Day
“It’s beautiful outside and the wind is whistling; I look outside my window as I see my neighbor’s Christmas tree; the snow is falling, my spirit’s feeling happy, I’m feeling even better ’cause I got my family next to me,” Beyoncé sings to open Destiny’s Child’s first-ever Christmas song. It’s a sentiment that is repeated in countless Christmas songs, and one that never fails to lift spirits. On “Spread a Little Love on Christmas Day,” the girls express gratitude for their blessings and, as the title suggests, spread love to all of their listeners, no matter where in the world they may be. Musically, the song sounds like it could’ve fit in on Survivor, but lyrically, there’s no mistaking that the song is filled with Christmas cheer. For that reason, it has always been one of my favorites.
2. Opera of the Bells
Certainly the best cover on the album, Destiny’s Child’s version of “Carol of the Bells” is aptly retitled “Opera of the Bells.” This a cappella moment finds the trio united in harmony, and impeccably so. As with most versions of this classic carol, DC3’s version is equally haunting and powerful. It’d truly be something to hear Beyoncé, Michelle and Kelly perform this one today; their voices have only improved over the years, and no doubt they would slay this, effortlessly. The last time they performed it live was in 2004.
1. Winter Paradise
This has always been my favorite song on the album. It’s simple, yet perfectly heartwarming. Co-penned and co-produced by Beyoncé, this DC3 original is underrated and deserving of its flowers. I wish it had been a single so that it could have received more shine. Lyrically, it hits all the Christmas points and serves up all the Christmas warm and fuzzies. I also love the vocal arrangements here; Michelle, Kelly and Beyoncé all have equal opportunities to shine.