I’m going to play the Grinch this year – or, maybe Scrooge, if you prefer that. Only slightly, though.
No, I’m not going to stalk a town and try to ruin their festivities all because I’m basically in exile. And I’m certainly not in a position to deprive workers of money or time off for celebrating with their loved ones.
But as a bitter cynic, I am going to offer an unpopular, controversial, and potentially alienating opinion.
Here goes: I don’t care much for Christmas music. The entire holiday season could forgo it, and all our lives would be easier. At least mine.
The following are a few myths about holiday music – and the realities, as well.
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Myth #1: Christmas music makes the holidays more festive.
Okay, I’m kind of stretching the definition of “myth” for this one. But hear me out! For many, Christmas music serves not much more of a purpose than background noise to get drunk to at holiday office parties and family gatherings.
In this way, reruns of old sitcoms or an electronica playlist would serve the same purpose. Holiday music doesn’t add anything at all if people aren’t listening to it. I doubt anyone but kids would truly notice if you turned it off – and even then, would they care?
I think the issue lies with traditions of really any holiday. Ultimately one part isn’t going to change much, and the atmosphere is a sum of its parts. Halloween isn’t spooky without cotton spider webs, plastic skeletons, and motion-sensing graveyards. St. Patrick’s Day is a combination of overdoses of green and the stale vomit left on the sidewalk in front of your house or apartment complex by drunken frat boys.
Take out one element and nothing really changes – but, ironically, things don’t feel complete without all the elements. This in mind, can we at least do away with the idea that Christmas music is as necessary an ingredient as people think it is? We don’t even listen to it, for the most part. At best, it doesn’t add anything; at worst, it makes the time we have to spend awkwardly staring at people we “forgot” to stay in touch with that much more awkward.
Myth #2: Christmas music increases retail sales.
There have been various studies conducted on this one, and all of them point to Christmas music having a positive effect on retail sales.
But this can’t be true for all varieties of retail. What about Amazon, Etsy, Shein, and the myriad other online stores? To my knowledge, you won’t here “Jingle Bell Rock” coming out of your phone speakers as you buy an HDTV or add a few sweaters to your cart.
And hearing the same dozen songs we’ve been forced to swallow for decades has to be the dealbreaker that leads to at least a few people staying out of stores like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, opting instead to visit their online sites, rather than suffering a trip to the brick-and-mortar locations. Who wants to endure another interpretation of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” while feeling obligated to purchase an expensive gift for someone you may not have seen in years? I doubt many would say “yes.”
Myth #3: People enjoy listening to Christmas music.
Oh, don’t think I’m crazy or an idiot with this one. I know for a fact that there are more than a few adults who enjoy holiday music (a couple of them are in my own family, I guarantee it) – or, rather, think they enjoy it.
You see, folks, I don’t think there’s a soul on this Earth who genuinely likes Christmas songs. If that were the case, people would play them as much as they do The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, Led Zeppelin, or Madonna.
Even among artists who have lent their talents to the subgenre (Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen, for example), no one puts these songs on randomly during, say, a family barbecue or a spring wedding. For good reason: there are only a few months we’re willing to suffer through them.
Myth #4: Holiday music makes people happy.
Myth #5: People are excited when their favourite artist releases a Christmas song or album
I think there was a time when this happened, and I think that time probably occurred between the late 1970s and early 1990s – when artists like McCartney, Petty, Springsteen, and even U2 got into the holiday spirit and released original works or cover versions of Christmas songs.
And we wouldn’t have perhaps the biggest pop songs of the season – Wham’s “Last Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – without this kind-of craving something from our favourite acts. Take that how you wish.
But that’s where it ends. We’re sick of the endless versions of the same fifteen or so songs. By now it’s just overkill. It’s sadistic, and the whole concept of having to enjoy any new versions of “Last Christmas” or even act ecstatic about hearing Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and however many covers of that there may be (I didn’t look at figures, but it’s probably a lot).
Don’t take any of this to mean I hate Christmas, or that I don’t want you to enjoy holiday music (assuming you do). You like what you like, and that’s fine. That said, we shouldn’t spread myths about the songs we will hear on a constant loop for an entire two to three months. That’s unfair, too.