Music Video Breakdown: ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays’ By ‘N Sync

Back in November of 1998, between the release of their self-titled debut album and their multi-multi-multi-platinum follow-up, ‘N Sync released a Christmas album titled Home for Christmas. Actually, “between” isn’t quite accurate, since, to most people, it implies that it came out at some relatively equidistant point in the middle of the other two releases. Nope.

Home for Christmas was released on November 10, just over six months after ‘N Sync hit the shelves in America (it had already been out in Germany for almost a year at that point, because the Internet was barely around in the late-90s and you could just ship a bunch of teenagers from Florida to Germany and no one even tried to stop you), and close to 16 months before No Strings Attached. And that six-month figure isn’t even really accurate either, because the first album didn’t start burning up the charts until later that summer, after a concert of theirs aired on the Disney Channel.

Why do I bring all of this up? Well, two reasons: First of all, I think a quick refresher on the timeline could be helpful, seeing as this all took place over 15 years ago. And second, there has to be some reason that the music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” — the lead single from Home for Christmas — looks like it was filmed for $300 in a single afternoon on an Orlando soundstage even though its stars were multi-platinum recording artists, and “hurried cash grab to profit off the capitalist utopia that is the holiday shopping season” seems like as good a reason as any. (Relevant.) Mostly that second reason.

Strap on your ski goggles, over-sized sweaters, and Santa hats, gang. We’re going on a sleigh ride.

Here is the plot of the music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”: Santa is sick on Christmas Eve, so the elf he has apparently entrusted with his care, who is played by Gary Coleman, decides to magically teleport ‘N Sync to the North Pole so they can take his place and deliver the presents. It is never explained why Elf Gary Coleman thought that a famous pop group was the best possible replacement. It appears he had the power to choose anyone. I would think someone like a UPS guy or a helicopter pilot would have been the move, due to their package delivery and flying experience, respectively. But no, Gary wanted the “Tearin’ Up My Heart” dudes. I bet it was this kind of impulsive, borderline reckless decision-making that got Santa sick in the first place.

Also, guess if the video features the group making a very timely “Whatchu talkin’ bout?” joke when they first encounter Gary Coleman. Spoiler: They do. Obviously.

And we’re off, with ‘N Sync packed five-deep into a one-man sleigh, ready to deliver presents to all the little boys and gir…

Wait a second. Where are the presents? And who the hell let Joey drive? And what’s even the goddamn point of having ski goggles if you’re not going to put them over your eyes while you’re piloting a supersonic flying sleigh through a snowstorm? Jesus Christ. This is a disaster. Someone get Santa some orange juice and DayQuil.

‘N Sync makes their first stop at a homeless shelter, where they serve meals to the crowd in front of a giant green screen that displays holiday greetings in multiple languages. This is certainly a nice thing to do, and I encourage all of you to donate your time and resources to the less fortunate to whatever degree you can during the holiday season, but feeding the homeless is not — in the strictest, most technical sense of his duties — Santa’s job. Admirable? Of course. But there are lots of presents to deliver, guys. Do charity work on your own time.


I imagine some of you — like, at least one of you — saw me call out Joey Fatone for his moronic goggle-wearing policy a few paragraphs ago and thought, “Hey, I wonder what Joey Fatone is up to lately.” The good news is that I have an answer for you. The bad news is that I have seen the movie Mancation.

On its face, based on the box cover and description (“After his plans come crashing down around him, Vince and his friends head to Atlantic City for the wildest and most spontaneous weekend of their lives”), Mancation appears to be a dollar store version of The Hangover. That’s what I was expecting when I sat down to watch it: a crappy, low-budget, so-awful-it’s-amazing masterpiece. What I got, instead, was the worst and most horrifying movie I have ever seen. Allow me to explain.

The ending of the movie features something called a “Controversial-Off,” in which two characters go back and forth one-upping each other during a house party in an attempt to do the most shocking thing they can think of. One of them ends up totally nude — full-frontal — save for a thin layer of his friend’s feces that he has smeared all over his body. And that character loses the Controversial-Off. Another character decides on a whim to get a Prince Albert piercing on the boardwalk one night. They show it. They show it. The (presumably prosthetic) penis, the needle going in, all of it, tightly-zoomed. I was not prepared for that. It changed me. I’m … different now. There are other things that happen. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Now, or ever. Point being: Joey Fatone, from ‘N Sync, is in this movie.

So that is what he is up to.

But back to the music video. ‘N Sync has brought Santa’s sleigh to a party full of models. I like to picture the reindeer (a) standing outside in the snow shaking their heads in disapproval, or (b) just off-camera, blind drunk on spiked egg nog, asking the models if they want to “play reindeer games.” It’s even better if you imagine Rudolph as a pick-up artist, negging women left and right and peacocking with his light-up nose. Either way, leaving that type of thing out of the video is unforgivable.

Welp, Christmas is ruined.

Wait, check that. Here is a GIF of a Superman-chain-wearing Joey Fatone and Elf Gary Coleman doing a little abbreviated soul handshake slash high-five thing. Christmas is saved. God bless us, every one.

And now ‘N Sync is popping up with gifts for an apartment full of attractive young women. The lesson here is that if you aren’t homeless or, like, at least a 7, you’re getting bupkis this year. The world ain’t fair, kids. You can’t learn that too early. If it has to be taught to you by five Orlando-based teenagers who have been inexplicably enlisted to take over Santa’s duties after he came down with the flu on Christmas Eve, so be it.

Also, who the hell hangs orange and red pennant flags as Christmas decorations? Come on, ladies. Get it together.

It’s weird watching this video with the knowledge that this guy will go on to become one of the country’s most beloved and respected musicians, right?

Two and a half minutes into the video, and ‘N Sync is just now delivering their first presents to children, apparently after all of the country’s hot coeds have been taken care of. I suppose we should just be thankful that kids are FINALLY getting some presents here, and not point out that there are six of them sharing a bed in a room with giant Christmas tree, as though they live in some awful foster home run by an evil couple who spends all of their money on holiday decorations instead of the well-being of the children, like some sort of Yuletide version of Annie where JC Chasez is Daddy Warbucks.


Okay, so now ‘N Sync just starts taking the sleigh on a joyride. First through a city…

… then to outer space…

… and then to catch some waves in an ocean. This video has essentially turned into Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The sleigh is the Ferrari. Gary Coleman is Cameron. ‘N Sync, collectively, is the parking garage attendant. No one is Ferris. Ferris is dead now. Merry Christmas.

So, to recap ‘N Sync’s evening filling in for Santa:

  • Fed the homeless. Nice thing to do. Not Santa’s job. BAD.
  • Attended a party full of models. BAD.
  • Popped in on attractive coeds who are terrible at decorating for Christmas. BAD.
  • Screwed around with Santa’s sleigh. BAD.
  • Did not demonstrate proper eye safety. BAD.
  • Gave presents to six possibly downtrodden and malnourished orphans. GOOD.
  • Went back to the model party to do a conga line. BAD.
  • Apparently did not deliver gifts to millions of children around the world. BAD.

You are fired, ‘N Sync.