Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Comedian Matt Rogers was stoned, wandering the streets of New York City, reeling from a bad breakup, and trying desperately to unlock the lyrics of a song steeped in this heartbreak — that also had to fit on his Christmas album. He had the start of a hook (“Go get everything you want…”) and a core idea, hoping his ex will get everything he wants in life, even if Rogers won’t be the one to provide it. But that was it.

“I was just like, ‘God, I feel so pathetic! I’m so stuck because I can’t think of anything to wish for him,’” Rogers tells Rolling Stone. “And then I was like, ‘Oh, maybe that’s it.’” In an instant, through heartbreak, Rogers had stumbled onto an ideal bit: “I don’t remember shit about this dude,” he cracks. 

The resulting song, “Everything You Want,” is a delightful pastiche of nostalgic, lovelorn emo pop featuring guest vocals from one of today’s great emo pop luminaries, Muna’s Katie Gavin. The video — co-directed by Rogers and Jared Frieder and premiering exclusively on Rolling Stone — finds Rogers and Gavin stuck in a time warp of bad romances where exes are interchangeable and all distinguishing characteristics and proclivities lost in a sea of booze. Oh, and don’t forget, it’s Christmas.

That’s part of the larger comedic conceit of Have You Heard of Christmas?, Rogers’ long-running holiday project, which he largely crafted with co-writer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Henry Koperski. Since debuting in 2017, the show has gone from comedy clubs to theaters, and last year became a stand-up special/sketch show/holiday spectacular for Showtime; now it’ll be a full-fledged Christmas album, out Nov. 3. As an ever-evolving entity, Have You Heard of Christmas? “celebrates and drags” Christmas, Roger says, putting it front-and-center while making it besides the point.

Take the first single, “Also It’s Christmas,” a David Guetta-esque EDM romp about hooking up with a stranger, and also it’s Christmas. Even more “on-theme” offerings ultimately have other concerns, like “Every Christmas Eve,” a power ballad belted from the perspective of a devastated Mrs. Claus, accusing Santa of cheating because there’s no way he could deliver all those presents in one night. Even the project itself is less about Christmas than it is about Rogers — a comic actor with roles in the movie Fire Island and the TV show I Love That for You, co-host of the hit podcast Las Culturistas with longtime friend Bowen Yang — doing a Christmas special with clear monetary incentives and career benefits.

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“I am this person participating in the Christmas capitalist takeover that happens annually,” Rogers says. “It’s about me being out there doing the project and making money from the project, just like it is with all the pop girlies if we’re all really honest.”

“Everything You Want” is one of three new songs Rogers wrote for Have You Heard of Christmas? while the rest of the album features full-fledged studio versions of the songs, he and Koperski have been performing with just piano and vocals since 2017. It’s a testament to Koperski’s talents that even with that barebones set-up, the songs still sounded so full.

“It always feels like you’re playing with way more instruments than you are,” Rogers says of performing with Koperski. “I’ve always had the luxury of hearing, in my mind, what these songs sound like all the way filled out.”

But the album still presented a long-awaited opportunity to actualize everything and create the kind of full-tilt pop parody pastiche Rogers admires in the Lonely Island and Bo Burnham. 

Enlisting Katie Gavin for “Everything You Want” exemplifies that commitment to both the bit and ensuring the music is pristine. While making the song, Rogers and producer Leland — known for his work with Troye Sivan and as the resident musician on Drag Race — kept using Muna as a reference point until a collaboration felt essential. It wouldn’t have exactly been a cold ask either, as Rogers has sung with Muna on stage and even appeared in their “What I Want” video (a song, by the way, that Leland also worked on). Even still, Rogers admits making the call was nerve-wracking.

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“This is really isn’t my world, like approaching an artist I have so much respect for,” he says. “I genuinely think Katie Gavin is one of the greats of my generation, and she immediately said yes before she’d even heard the song… A couple of days later, she sent us the track, and we were just crossing our fingers, hoping to hear the magic of her voice. When we did, Leland and I collapsed in each other’s arms. It was just so cool, and we knew it was going to validate this project so much.”

Rogers got some further validation from Sivan, who was frequently around as the making of his new album, Something to Give Each Other, overlapped with the Have You Heard of Christmas? sessions. Rogers says Sivan chimed in with suggestions here and there but was especially helpful with one of the other new songs written for the album. 

“It was the last one we did,” Rogers says, “truly we had seven hours before we had to turn it in. We had space for one more song, and I was like, ‘I really want a nasty pop girl moment.’ I wanted it to be called ‘Rum Pum Pum,’ and I wanted it to be twinks shaking their ass in the club with ‘Little Drummer Boy’ imagery. I wanted it to be nasty and dirty and to use my voice in different ways. So, I did it for Troye, Leland, and co-writer and producer Gabe Lopez, and after I finished, they were just blank in their eyes. I was like, ‘Is it horrible? Is it insane?’ And Troye was the first to say, ‘No, 100 percent you have to put this on the album.’”

As much as the album version of Have You Heard of Christmas? might feel like a culmination of sorts, Rogers is quick to point out that the “funny thing about Christmas is it never ends.” After the album arrives in November, there will be a whole bunch of live dates, first a string of shows in London, followed by a North American tour in December. And after all that? Well, there’s no reason not to keep fully embracing the essence of the Christmas spirit — crass commercialization — for as long as possible.

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“Next year, who knows, maybe we’ll have the deluxe edition,” Rogers quips. “The year after that? Maybe we do a Vegas thing. The year after that? Maybe it’s a re-release, a sequel album — But Have You Really Heard of Christmas? Just committing to the grandeur of it, and understanding that what makes this project funny and exciting for me is the constant heightening of the ways you can take this to new places.”

He adds with a laugh: “Christmas is monoculture, what am I going to do? Not participate in it? I’d be a fool!”

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The post Comedian Matt Rogers Found Humor in Heartbreak and Made an Emo Christmas Anthem With Muna appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

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