There’s two radio stations by me that have been playing 24 hour-a-day Christmas music. They’ve been treating their listeners to round-the-clock Christmas music since Thanksgiving. So all around the sounds of Christmas carols fill the airwaves up to December 25th.
For some strange reason these stations apparently stop playing their Christmas music on Christmas night. I never understood that. I figure if you’ve been playing this stuff for the last month what’s the sudden rush to stop it? You might as well play it right up until New Years. At least you can play it into the 26th!
Maybe they figure everyone is done and sick with all the Christmas celebrating by the evening of the 25th around 6PM-ish so they might as well put a fork in the holiday season and get back to normal programming.
One thing I’ve always encountered with tuning into both these stations is that I consistently hear the same songs again and again. And I don’t mean I hear numerous different versions of Jingle Bells – that I would welcome. But I always seem to hear the same exact Christmas songs and artists.
Maybe it’s my dumb timing and coincidence, but when this happens I start to suspect these stations have an extremely limited Christmas playlist that doesn’t allow them to keep a variety of Christmas music going for more than a few hours, let alone the entire Christmas season. Unless they’re just too lazy to sift through their pile of Christmas songs and keep picking the same ones on top.
I understand about radio drive time, that radio listeners are usually tuning in for a fifteen minute listening window and the station wants to air familiar and popular songs to keep listeners engaged, but come on mix things up a little bit!
It’s always the same group of songs – Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys, White Christmas by Bing Crosby. Mariah Carey, Andy Williams, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Amy Grant, Johnny Mathis, The Carpenters, now Michael Bublé is big on the rotation, on and on. I’m not saying I don’t like all them. A lot of their songs are some of the best, most famous and beloved versions of these Christmas tunes, but they’re not the only ones out there. If you’re going to do 24-hours-a-day of Christmas music for an entire month – change it up a little bit! Get dangerous.
I had to program a Christmas playlist for work for everyone to listen to. Admittedly, there’s different versions of some of the most popular Christmas songs in it, but they’re all by different artists and at the moment the playlist runs for sixteen hours. There’s some obscure oddball songs that most people have never heard of before (and probably would never want to hear again), but they are Christmas songs! Not one person has told me they’re sick of hearing the same songs again and again. Maybe they’re being polite, but I very much doubt that.
If you really start looking into it there are hours upon hours of Christmas songs that never get any airplay. In the 1950’s Christmas tunes got the ‘rock’ treatment. There’s every conceivable combination you can think of! Everything during Christmas got rocked, bopped and hopped – ‘North Pole Rock’, ‘Snowman Rock’, ‘Chimney Top Twist’. Some of those songs are pretty ridiculous.
Every kind of genre of music has tackled Christmas songs. Swing, R&B, rock and roll, novelty, folk, jazz, sing-alongs, raggae, country, techno, easy listening, classical, there’s really no shortage of choices. So why don’t I ever hear disco Jingle Bells anywhere?
Ok, so maybe not all of it is everyone’s cup of tea. I’m not saying they’re all great and I can see why radio stations might not be interested in playing them, but what the heck you have an entire month of Christmas music you have to fill!
If I had a month worth of Christmas music to program I’d throw a few offbeat ones in just for varieties sake. My ratings might plummet and I might get a mountain of complaints, but all the music I’d play would fall under the category of ‘Christmas Music’. Let’s surprise listeners and if they say after hearing ‘Outer Space Santa’, “Gee, that song was really weird” then so be it. It was just two and half minutes and now we can go back to a Christmas song you’ve heard thousands of times before in your lifetime.
So keeping with this Scrooge-like complaining I now offer up my top five Christmas songs I am absolutely sick of hearing and think they are the most overplayed.
- Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCarthy. I never liked this song and still don’t. Everytime I hear those opening electronic warbles or whatever they are I cringe. I always thought of this song as a Jack-in-a-box tune. It’s just so damn repetitive with that chorus it plays like I’m monotonously winding a crank. They play this song way too much!
- Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town by Bruce Springsteen. Horrible. I think I would prefer any version of this song over The Boss’ grunting rendition. Even hearing it sung by a pack of out of tune kids in a school play would be better than this growling version. This one too gets way too much airplay than it deserves. I think that’s only due to it being Springsteen singing it and not because it’s any good.
- All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey. This tune has become such a standard on the radio during the holidays and it feels like I hear it every fifteen minutes. Never cared for Mariah, in fact I don’t think I could name one other song of hers. But this friggin’ one is burned into my brain.
- Last Christmas by Wham. First few times I heard this I thought it was an alright tune. But then I heard it again and again and again. Now it’s become a holiday staple and I’ve reached the point I immediately turn it off when I feel its presence approaching.
- The Peanuts Theme by Vince Guaraldi. This might sound like a strange one, it could just be something the radio stations I listen to are doing or maybe this is a worldwide offense, I’m not sure. but I have a major pet peeve about it. How and when did the Peanuts theme become a Christmas song? Who decided this and why? I’ve accepted them making ‘My Favorite Things’ a Christmas song. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but at least it mentions the words ‘winter’ and ‘mittens’ in it. But the Peanuts theme??? Already this past month I’ve heard this recognizable piano tune pop up more times than I care to count.
I suspect it’s holiday placement in the music rotation is because it’s featured in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.
But it’s played in every Peanuts cartoon isn’t it? A more appropriate song from the television special to play would be ‘Christmas Time Is Here’, but I never hear that one, it’s always the old regular Peanuts theme song.
When I hear it start to play on this Christmas marathon of music I usually say, “Ooops someone put in the wrong tape!” or “Oh goody they’re now playing cartoon music, I hope they play the Looney Tunes theme next!”.