Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why People Don't Like Christmas Music

I'm pro-Christmas music, and when people tell me how much they don't like Christmas music, it often comes down to the context in which they hear it. Recently, a friend said she hated it because she heard it relentlessly on an easy listening station in the office next to hers. Of course, there's little on an easy listening station she'd like the other 11 months of the year, so it's unlikely it would play Christmas music she'd like either. And any omnipresent music - even stuff you like - eventually wears you out, and if it's an unwelcome visitor from the next office, it's triply problematic. So often, we hear Christmas music in emotionally challenging circumstances - shopping, family get-togethers - which makes it no surprise that the associations we make with Christmas music are often bad ones.

Recently, I received an email link to an eMusic Christmas downloadable mix, and it suggested another problem. The playlist is:

1. Deck the Halls: Twisted Sister
2 Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year: Rosie Thomas
3 Angels We Have Heard On High: The Brian Setzer Orchestra
4 Holiday Mood: Apples In Stereo
5 Little Drummer Boy: Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
6 Something to Hold On To (At Christmas): Ron Sexsmith
7 Jingle Bells: Lisa Loeb
8 The Twelve Days of Christmas: Kidz Bop Kids
9 Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring: Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
10 Darlin' (Christmas is Coming): Over The Rhine
11 Noel: Robin Gibb
12 Auld Lang Syne: The Smithereens

I started to download it and stopped because I can't imagine ever wanting to hear that mix. First, all versions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" are testers, but who but the most ironic listener would enjoy hearing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and Kidz Bop Kids and Brian Setzer and Twisted Sister? It's the sort of mix that guarantees a degree of antipathy toward Christmas music. Something more coherent like Jared Boxx's "Soul Santa" mixtape podcast makes a far more convincing argument for Christmas music as a satisfying listening experience.

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