100 gecs Commit Holiday Hijinks in “sympathy 4 the grinch”

What is the best part of Christmas? Is it Hallmark movie marathons? Stale gingerbread houses? Evening mass and Christmas dinner? Is it the one-day-only holiday sales going on right now, only at Macy's? For my family, it’s the music. It’s my sister tuning the radio to the local pop station that plays the same Michael Bublé cover 15 times an hour. It’s the endless reel of songs about a baby in a manger, Christmas trees and dancing around Christmas trees. Every classic song is more cookie-cutter Christmas-like than the last. And classic Christmas songs are all well and good, but they don’t hold a candle to the weird ones.

sympathy 4 the grinch album cover

sympathy 4 the grinch album cover courtesy of Atlantic Records

My favorite part of the holiday season is my collection of sort-of-bonkers Christmas tunes. A kid is forced to believe his mom is cheating on his dad in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The oddity of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is in the title. A favorite of mine is “Father Christmas” by the Kinks, in which poor kids mug a department store Santa. This December though, it seems my collection may welcome a new addition: 100 gecs’ outlandish “sympathy 4 the grinch.” In their first solo single since 2019’s 1000 gecs, the duo delivers another chaotic Christmas carol for my collection, ripe with tales of robbery and revenge.

The ska-inspired “sympathy 4 the grinch” kicks off with a bouncy bass rhythm and some sleigh bells to put the listener in the mood for the holiday hijinks that follow. A quick “pick it up!” tag is swept away by Laura Les’s Christmas wish-list: “Wanted some speakers, Xbox, and t-shirts / I've been good like every single day.” Sadly, Les finds nothing but an empty box under the tree. The duo decides only one man is to blame: Santa Claus. Feeling overlooked and uncompensated for their good behavior, Laura Les and Dylan Brady grab their keys and hit the road, ready to rob Father Christmas.

A catchy chorus cuts in, “Never gave me a goddamn thing that I want / I was good every day but he didn't give a fuck.” The bouncy bass is stripped back for Brady to take the reins, ranting about Santa’s failures as a gift-giver. Saint Nick’s ignorance has changed Les and Brady’s attitude toward the holiday, leaving them to sympathize more with the infamous Christmas-hater, Dr. Seuss's Grinch. And much like the Grinch, the duo has turned to theft as a means to foil the Christmas spirit: “This year, put the top on the back of the truck / Santa's banging on the back of the truck.”

After sneaking past elves and slipping away with Santa’s “magic bag,” Les and Brady reload themselves into the truck and put the gas pedal to the floor. Brady sings, “Boots full of lead feet, gas in the Chevy / Hundred-fifty miles on the dash.” You can’t help but remember Brady’s visible road rage and white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel that grace the single’s cover. Santa can bang on the back of the truck all he wants, but no one can challenge Brady’s boots full of lead feet. A final chorus refrain confirms that 100 gecs has, indeed, robbed Santa Claus.

The outlandish premise should be a shock. It’s not. I expect nothing less from the musicians who brought listeners “stupid horse,” a song that similarly describes vengeful looting. The two tracks also share a similar ska beat and the infamous “pick it up!” tag, so it seems the rowdy robbery theme and production is a favorite of 100 gecs. Here’s to more burglary bangers in 2021.

In all seriousness, it seems likely that “sympathy 4 the grinch'' is 100 gecs’ victory lap for the year. 2020 has been a chaotic year, but this chaotic act not only survived through it, but grew substantially. Whether it was through love or hate, 100 gecs was on people’s minds and in their ears. The work of Laura Les and Dylan Brady could be heard across TikTok through the duo’s remix project, 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues, or in any number of the artists’ numerous 2020 production collaborations. And while it’s doubtless that this single is a perfect fit for my sort-of-bonkers Christmas playlist, it only adds to 100 gecs’ legacy as an act that entertains, despite their oddity. That’s a title that should earn Les and Brady a spot on the Nice List (but they can just steal their well-deserved presents either way).

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