How John Williams made ‘Home Alone’ sound like Christmas

There is much more to composing a banger Christmas soundtrack than sleigh bells.

Home alone

20th Century Fox

By Meg Shields ยท Released December 24, 2021

Welcome to The Queue – your daily distraction from curated video content downloaded from across the web. Today we watch a video essay on why Home Alone has the best Christmas soundtrack.


It’s that time of year again folks. An unmistakable noise of bells, Christmas carols and sacred Christmas classics has invaded all grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores.

And as you go down, producing times for the tune “Frosty the Snowman” (or if you’re really lucky, the Dolly Parton / Kenny Rogers collaborative album “Once Upon a Christmas”), here’s a question worth considering : what makes a song sound like Christmas? Is it as easy as throwing an ointment of sleigh bells here and there? Can the effect be achieved by simply removing keywords such as “fireplace”, “snow” and “home”?

Now, as the video essay below suggests, the answer may lie in the 1990 holiday classic Home alone, featuring one of the most “Christmas-like” scores ever. Directed by Chris Columbus, the film sees eight-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Kulkin) make the most of his newfound independence as his family accidentally leaves him on vacation. And by “newly found independence” we mean, of course, “defending one’s home against two burglars” with the imaginative threat of a villain from So V franchise.

The film’s score, by none other than John Williams, is an incredibly solid case study in what makes music feel as holidays. As the video essay below emphasizes, Williams is fully aware of the key role cycles of nostalgia during the holidays and the music associated with it. Williams’ score consists of old classics that fit the nostalgic thrust du jour (1950s), and also features original Christmas songs that mimic the real thing so smoothly that they are hard to pick from the crowd. So take a mug of hot apple cider, suck on a candy cane and cuddle up to this look at why Home alone from a musical point of view, it feels like Christmas.

Watch “Why Home Alone is the Best Christmas Soundtrack Ever”:


Who made this?

This video on why Home alone have an incredible Christmas soundtrack is over Sideways, a video essay channel whose work goes deep into music, movies and music in movies. Their videos address a lot of issues in film music, which may not be noticed by the untrained ear, but which have a huge impact on the film. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Related topics: Chris Columbus, Christmas, Home Alone, The Queue

Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor to Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns on FSR: The Queue, How’d They Do That ?, and Horrorscope. She is also the curator of One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Me can be found screaming about John Boorman’s ‘Excalibur’ on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She her).

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