Oh boy. While not exactly the endlessly morphing disaster that was Patti LaBelle’s now-classic performance of “This Christmas” at the 1996 National Tree Lighting ceremony (you know you want to watch it again), Dionne Warwick and Aloe Blacc’s rendition of the song on Tuesday’s Good Morning America was its own little Christmas... whatever the opposite of a miracle is.
“Tragedy” seems too harsh for something this entertaining. Warwick, an absolute legend who no longer gives a single fuck, walked on that show in a sweater in leggings, forgot lyrics, and then attempted to ad-lib in a way reminiscent of SNL’s Garth and Kat. Aloe Blacc just tried to keep up.
The absolute highlight (or lowlight, really what is the difference?) occurred when Warwick apparently improvised during a bridge that I’m quite sure has never been on any previous rendition of Donny Hathaway’s perennial chestnut. “What are you gonna do?” she asked as Blacc interrupted. With emphasized sass, she put her hands on her hips and completed her sentence: “...This Christmas?” And then she answered the question herself: “I’m gonna try and get some rest.” Fair! Same! This is really relatable. When Blacc revealed what he’s going to do (spend time on the beach with his family in Australia), Warwick responded, “Down unda, huh?” And all of a sudden we were watching something that looked very much like the “Midnight at the Oasis” sequence in Waiting for Guffman.
What on Earth is going on here?
Also fun: Warwick riffed on the original song’s encouraging line that goes, “Shake a hand,” by adding, “...if you can.” Is that inclusive to people who don’t have hands? Underestimating our ability to be able to carry out the simplest of salutational tasks? A threat? Is Dionne Warwick going to take our hands away? Who knows!
Full performance below.