Gwen Stefani Talks Deluxe Edition of ‘You Make It Feel Like Christmas’ & ‘Magical’ Art of Holiday Songwriting
Billboard – “Honestly, songwriting is so magical, but to do Christmas songwriting was another level for me,” Stefani tells Billboard’s Pop Shop Podcast.
Gwen Stefani‘s first experience making a Christmas album was so nice, she wanted to do it twice! In October, the pop/rock icon released a deluxe edition of her 2017 holiday album You Make It Feel Like Christmas, which boasts five brand-new songs, including two more originals co-written by Stefani.
“I feel like with Christmas records, if you do good enough, they let you add on to your record,” Stefani laughed to Billboard‘s Pop Shop Podcast. “I don’t how many years they let you do that for.”
Once the No Doubt frontwoman unlocked her inner-Santa Songwriter, the floodgates were open and she was on a quest to create one of those classic Christmas carols that we’ve known our whole lives. “If you can get one that lasts, then you’re there forever and it’s just, you know, you’re Mariah Carey,” she says of the “All I Want for Christmas Is You” writer. “Like, you get to have that moment with everyone’s memories and their families and their holiday. It’s like you’re part of their celebration and the backdrop of their lives. Honestly, songwriting is so magical, but to do Christmas songwriting was another level for me.”
The two new songs that Stefani co-wrote with Justin Tranter (who worked with Gwen on her most recent studio album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like, in addition to his work with Selena Gomez, Britney Spears and more pop superstars) and busbee (Maren Morris, Keith Urban and more) are called “Cheer for the Elves” and “Secret Santa.” While “Elves” is an uptempo children’s song, “Santa” goes in a more grown-up direction. “It sort of reminds me of like a ‘Santa Baby’ lane … in the sense of like a little sexy song.”
In addition to the brand-new songs, Stefani and her boyfriend and fellow Voice coach Blake Shelton also filmed a music video for the album’s title track this year. While Gwen is still trying to figure out what to get her country-star beau for Christmas, her gift from him is already handled. “It’s just a fun time of year and I know that it can be super stressful too. I feel it as well, I’m like, oh my God, I haven’t gotten anything for Blake, like, what am I gonna get him? He has everything. But I know he gave me something, my present already, which was to do a video for the ‘You Make it Feel Like Christmas’ song,” she says. “[It] was such a gift because he hates doing videos. Literally, for his own videos he’s like, ‘You got two hours and then I’m out of here.’ He just, it’s not his thing. So for him to be able to put the time in for a whole day and do that video with me was just a dream. I was all excited about how it turned out and it was a lot of fun.”
Stefani has a lot to live up to when it comes to passing Christmas traditions on to her kids because her own childhood set the bar pretty high. “You could never see where the tree was and where the presents were because Santa would come and wrap the doorway with wrapping paper,” she recalls. “[My parents would] be like, ‘On the count of three! Bust through the paper!’ And it was a lot of fun.”
As for her three children — Kingston (12), Zuma (10) and Apollo (4) — she’s still trying to make their Christmas bright. “My kids have such an unbelievably different life than I did growing up,” she says. “I feel like every year is just a ticking clock where you’re like trying to hold on and make it magical because life goes so quickly. Now I have a 12-year-old who doesn’t really have a good list. There’s no more toys to buy, it’s just like tech stuff or he wants like Gucci or things that are just impossible. You’re like, ‘No, you’re not getting the new … iPhone 12 or whatever is coming out next.’ It’s really hard to not let go of the fun baby years where Christmas is just so magical. I still have a 4-year-old, so he’s gonna have fun this year.”
Also on the show, Keith & Katie discuss news about Ariana Grande, Travis Scott, Billboard’s Women in Music event on Thursday and the delayed Grammy nominations.
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard‘s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider.