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Christmas Music

by Mr B

I think everyone should have a Christmas album in their collection. In fact, way more than one. It’s perfect listening for the festive season. Who can resist Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’? Or Frank Sinatra crooning ‘Silent Night’?

“Please turn off that Christmas music, it’s August!” My wife actually can resist.

I suppose she has a point. And I’ve realised that now my music is all stored digitally and no longer on CDs, cassettes or LPs, it’s very easy to accidentally find myself listening to Ella Fitzergerald singing ‘Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney’ – after a run of particularly non-festive rock music. And the truth is I love random play more than I love Christmas music in August.

But the randomness doesn’t end with Christmas music. Another regular scenario sounds flows like this

“Ambition makes you look pretty ugly, kicking and screaming, Gucci little piggy” from Radiohead, Paranoid Android.

Into

“Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any wool” – from the Nursery Rhymes Collection.

And the strangest thing, is that I very rarely skip the nursery rhyme. Maybe that’s because I was brought up on radio and skip still jars with me, but I really think it’s because on iTunes I have a playlist called ‘Never Played’ which I often listen to, so that I can embrace my whole collection not just my front-of-mind favourites. If I skip the nursery rhyme without listening to the end it stays on the ‘Never Played’ playlist and will come round again.

My wife thinks this is odd. She’s probably right. But this post is supposed to be about Xmas, so let me return to the subject. I’m reliably informed by a major online source that Christmas music only used to be played in the United States after the Thanksgiving holidays, but more recently the season has started earlier and earlier and is apparently termed 'Christmas creep'. I find that a very strange expression. Slightly unnerving in fact. The conspiracy theorists out there blame the music industry for this state of affairs – in an attempt to recover from flagging sales during the rest of the year they determine that Christmas starts early – and thus hope to extend the only sales period that makes them any money. I used to work in the music industry, and I can confidently say that no-one is smart enough to think about this, let alone actually make it happen. I think people just like to be happy, and Christmas music can only put a smile on your face!

But there’s something quite unusual about the Christmas songs that are so well loved. Sleigh Bells. How did sleigh bells become a staple of the genre, whether a gentle ballad or a blasting metal track? Why is it considered cool for My Chemical Romance to cover ‘All I Want For Chirstmas is You’, when normally a band like that would shy away not just from cover versions… but Mariah Carey? I find this all confusing and yet charming. One of the many things that makes Christmas so special.

Here are some of my favourite Christmas tracks:

- Bing Crosby - White Christmas

- Kylie Minogue - Santa Baby

- Peggy Lee - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

- Wham! – Last Christmas

- Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

- Gene Autry – Frosty The Snowman

- Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas

- Brian Setzer – ‘Zat You Santa Claus?

- Brenda Lee – Jingle Bell Rock

And I just heard that Justin Bieber is releasing a Christmas album? That won’t be getting anywhere near my iTunes…

Mr B is a father of two and writes under a pseudonym to avoid embarrassing them.

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