Few pop musicians have carped more about not getting the credit they’re due than Billy Corgan, so I’m going to give him some credit: I actually kind of like the Smashing Pumpkins’ Christmas song.
And I say that even knowing that on paper this doesn’t work: “Christmas Time” presents as a completely earnest Christmas tune from a massively successful alternative rock band in the 90s. There’s no irony here, no moping, no mystery: the message here is pretty much finally Christmas is here, watch how excited the kids get when they open their presents. Musically, the synth-heavy orchestration has more in common with Spinal Tap’s “Cups and Cakes” than with “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.”
(Okay, maybe there’s a little mystery. Depending on how you interpret it, the line “Christmastime has come for you” could be unsettling. But that’s a really big stretch; Billy certainly doesn’t sing it like it’s meant that way.)
Knowing all of that – and maybe this is just the 2020 in me talking – it’s actually kind of sweet. There’s only so far irony and mystery and misery can take you, after all, and it’s kind of nice for a band as big as the Pumpkins, just off an album with the words “infinite sadness” in its title, to just indulge in some straightforward holiday cheer.