Broadway Records released Michael Longoria’s holiday album Merry Christmas Darling digitally and in stores November 9. With 15 tracks of classic and original holiday songs arranged with ’60s flair, the album is inspired by the real-life Christmas love story between Longoria and his husband, who married December 2017 after meeting at a mutual friend’s Christmas party. “I wanted to record a romantic holiday album that would take the listener on an emotional musical journey through songs about risking it all for love at Christmas,” says the Jersey Boys alum. In fact, he envisions the album as a sort of Christmas musical with a Romeo-like figure at the center of the story.
Longoria gave us a glimpse at the inspiration behind Merry Christmas Darling with his full track-by-track breakdown:
“Merry Christmas Darling”
“Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through.” With one special song wish, our winterland Romeo begins the journey of Merry Christmas Darling with a wish for his true love to be by his side “Christmas-ing” together.
This song represents the world outside our loverboy’s window, a caroler’s paradise as everyone enjoys the most wonderful time of the year. The energy of the band on this track has an infectious joy that you can’t fight. You can’t help but sing along to the “ring-a-ling-a-ling ding-dong-dings.” In the musical in my mind, I envision our hero dancing around the living room decorating a Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree and trying to get into the holiday spirit with a Ronnie Spector classic.
“My Only Wish (This Year)”
The lyrics sing: “Last night I took a walk in the snow, couples holding hands, places to go. Seems like everyone but me is in love. Santa, can you hear me?” Something about this time of year brings out the child in all of us—even a grown up can make a wish to the spirit of Saint Nick. Our Romeo is willing to try everything to get exactly what he wants. I was surprised to find this gem on a Britney album. but once I knew it was Britney Spears it had to go on my album!
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
I love this song because the band and the back-up vocals have a perfect blend of sad hope that your baby will find his way back home. Christmas music has a tendency to make memories come alive and also remind you of Christmases past. In this song, the balladeer pleads at the top of his range for his baby to “please come home.” I added “sha-la-las” to the backup vocals on this tune because I wanted you to envision doo-wop singers caroling outside, a reminder that Christmas is happening all around you even though it may not feel like it without your love.
“Santa Tell Me”
“If he really cares” is the main question that we ask ourselves when we are in a new relationship around Christmas time. A couple’s first Christmas together can be a determining factor on if the relationship is for the long haul. Santa can be a little trickster, painting the world merry and bright and leaving us all with the urge to melt the snow with the passion in our hearts. The character cautiously proceeds, “I don’t want no broken heart. This year I gotta be smart.”
“One More Sleep”
This song is about finding out your baby is coming home for Christmas, but you’ve got “five more nights” of sleeping on your own until they arrive. The song is filled with a child-like excitement for the Christmas cuddles in store when you’re rocking around the Christmas tree with your other half on December 25th.
“Little Saint Nick”
A Beach Boys classic. This is one of the songs I chose to represent the aural world of classic holidays past. This song comes up on almost every holiday party playlist and it always gets me singing along. I imagine our hero blasting this song on his home stereo to get in the mood. I invited my original Jersey Boys co-stars—Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer—to join me on this track. Ever since playing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons together, we have loved taking on other vocal groups of the ’60s as The Midtown Men.
This song makes me cry almost every time I hear it. There is so much sorrow in the story of this song, in which a lover gives his heart on Christmas only to have it broken the “very next day.” I recorded a music video for this one. Even though it was really scary to be so vulnerable on camera, I wanted to tell a specific story in my version of “Last Christmas,” one that I hope George Michael would have wanted to tell if he had lived in a different time.
Another classic to remind you of the winter soundscape when our window panes get frosted. I needed songs like this to create the holiday world and remind the listener (after the emotional mountain we just climbed) that “Santa’s on his way,” and also that it’s the time of year “when the world falls in love.”
“All I Want for Christmas is You”
Is it really Christmas without Mariah Carey? Not for me! “All I Want for Christmas is You” is the contemporary classic of our time. There comes a point in every little boy’s life when he stops wishing for toy trucks and starts longing for something more grown-up. It’s a major turning point in a young person’s life when all you want for Christmas is to be in love. The holidays suddenly become less about jingle bells and more about the bells in your heart when you get that kiss you’ve been waiting for.
“Wrapped in Red”
I call this song the heartbeat of this album. When I decided to go into the recording studio for the album, it was this song that turned the entire project into a romantic musical story arc. The lyrics in the chorus really spoke to me: “This Christmas I’m gonna risk it all. This Christmas I’m not afraid to fall.” When I heard these lyrics belted out by Kelly Clarkson, I could see my Romeo character standing with a bouquet of roses at his love’s doorstep. He’s never confessed his true feelings, but this is the Christmas that will change the game forever. He belts out, “In all this white, you’ll see me like you’ve never seen me yet, wrapped in red.” Or as I see it, “wrapped in love.”
“Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)”
The lyrics in this song perfectly describe the world of the album. “Everyone’s so happy except for me tonight, because I miss you most at Christmastime, and I can’t get you off my mind.” Sometimes the one thing you want at Christmas is the one thing that doesn’t fit under your tree.
“Happy Xmas (War is Over)”
John Lennon’s beautiful song starts off with a question: “So this is Christmas and what have you done?” I ask myself this question every time I sing this song. The third verse asks, “What have we done?” It reminds me that we are all in this together. I love the beautiful empowering message in the final portion of the song, where it repeats, “War is over. If you want it, war is over now.”
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
The title of this song is perhaps the most powerful message our lonely Romeo can sing to himself. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” In the spirit of giving, many times we forget that the person who needs our love the most is the person staring back at us in the mirror. I encourage you to get yourself something fabulous this year, a Christmas present to yourself from yourself.
“Merry Me This Christmas”
This love story is the newest Christmas wedding song of 2018, “Merry Me This Christmas.”
The song begins in a romantic ’60s feel to aurally create the world of a Christmas party with people mingling. When I lock eyes with my love within the song’s storyline, the music transforms into a contemporary pop vibe as the character hears a choir singing “merry me this Christmas.” It’s faint at first, but by the end of the song the choir’s refrain has become a triumphant Christmas love chorus. I co-wrote this original song with my musical director Rona Siddiqui. I wanted to end the album with a happy—and true—story of a love-pining troubadour. The real-life Romeo of Merry Christmas Darling found his true love at a Christmas party and got married last year in a winter wedding. Merry Christmas, darling!
Longoria will celebrate the album’s release with his Birdland concert debut, set for December 10 at 8:30 PM. For tickets, click here.