It is officially the holiday season, and amidst the oncoming stress of finals that hits students immediately after the week long November hiatus, many will undoubtedly turn to their favorite jingle bell tunes and holiday movies to celebrate the season and the end of another year. For most millennials, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, released in 2000, is a familiar holiday favorite; Jim Carrey, covered in green fluff, lets out a distasteful, green burp and runs off with his iconic, cynical smile.
This season, Illumination and Universal Pictures has transformed the Dr. Seuss hit into a clean cut animated film, The Grinch, narrated by Pharrell Williams. And while I have not gone to the theaters to watch the production for fear of spending $12 on a movie that now holds a rating of 56 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, I spent much of my Thanksgiving break listening to the movie’s theme song and the recently released EP by the one and only Tyler the Creator. Tyler the Creator’s EP, released on Nov. 16 and titled Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, includes six tracks independent of the two songs he performs on the movie’s soundtrack — “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “I am the Grinch,” featuring Fletcher Jones. The rest of the soundtrack is followed by favorite hits from the 80s hip-hop group, Run-D.M.C, American soul singer Jackie Wilson, the 60s vocal group The Supremes, the “unforgettable” Nat King Cole, a cappella group Pentatonix and composer Danny Elfman.
While “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” a remake of the 1966 original, is still vaguely reminiscent of Thurl Ravenscroft’s deep, ominous, jazzy solo, Tyler the Creator’s version is much more rhythmic. With trombone slides and a children’s choir accenting the long “e” words at the end of phrases like, “You really are a heel” or “You’re as charming as an eel,” the cynicism can be considered a bit more heartfelt. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Tyler the Creator if you forgot the self-deprecating humor and wit he brings in “I Am the Grinch,” a song that I believe exposes the Grinch that exists within all of us from time to time. At one part of the outro where we get a repetitive sequence of the first person statement, “I am the Grinch,” Tyler retorts, “I’m guilty,” which reminded me of a friend who recently also pessimistically expressed that she, too, was not in the holiday spirit this year.
Although the six-track EP is only 10 minutes long, it puts you in a holiday mood that isn’t as overtly seasonal as the festive spirits that you get from singing along to Mariah Carey. In fact, the first introductory song, “Whoville,” is, unlike the colorful, whimsical fictional town, rather somber, reminding me of one of my favorite Soundcloud tracks by an artist named Miso, “Ache,” which I used to listen to on the occasional rainy days in high school.
The second track, “Lights On,” features Ryan Beatty and Santigold in a groovy crossover of vintage synth chords, right before “Hot Chocolate,” featuring Jerry Paper in a grimy tune that captures the essence of the warm drink that we purchase in our green and red Starbucks cups. In the subsequent track, “Big Bag,” Tyler returns to a faster rap where he briskly unveils a part of his own holiday reality in the line: “Mom was always honest, I ain’t never had a Santa Claus.” However, by the last two tracks, “When Gloves Come Off” and “Cindy Lou’s Wish,” we return to a swing-like beat, restoring the childlike warmth that once changed the green humanoid we both despised and adored for the better.
It would also be impossible to describe Tyler’s holiday album without acknowledging the way it influences the neighboring realms of art and fashion, as Tyler the Creator and the rest of the now dispatched Odd Future crew continues to do. The album cover, a portrait of the Grinch staring to the side with its menacing gaze, is a caricature of itself — and its respective Golf Wang graphic T-shirt is already, of course, sold out.
And if clothing isn’t enough, Golf Wang, Tyler’s clothing company, released a photo of a Grinch-inspired shoe covered in green fur that takes elements from his Golf le Fleur collaboration with Converse and their One Star shoe. Captioned “Grinch le Fleur,” the Instagram post once again reminds us of Tyler the Creator’s ability to make anything — even a childhood classic — his own.