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It’s that time of year again; Michael Bublé emerges from his proverbial cave, sprouts worm their way back onto our plates and ‘It’s Christmas’ becomes the ultimate justification to indulge. One of the things I love most about the festive period is the music – but for some it is an unwelcome arrival come November.
Why do I love Christmas Music?
Logically I feel like I probably shouldn’t enjoy it so much. It’s the same brand of cheesy pop that we hear year after year. But, that’s actually why I do love it.
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the music. Throughout all my years of family time, over indulging, games, drinking and gift giving there has been one constant and that has been the accompaniment. The annual period is synonymous with every radio station and TV channel becoming dominated by the same tunes that we hear every year; meaning that as soon as I look back fondly at great Christmas periods in my life I can’t help but hear ‘Last Christmas’ or ‘Stay Another Day’ at the same time. This gives these songs an unbelievable power over me. The first time I hear a Christmas song every year is such a huge moment because it garners so much excitement and expectation – Christmas is finally here! In times recently when things have been particularly tough, but even before then, I find that Christmas music is like the symbol of a checkpoint. We have all played those video games where you slowly progress through an unbelievably hard level, trying time after time to make it through. The feeling when you hit that checkpoint is unrivalled. What’s done is done, there’s no more going back to the same frustrating respawn spot – we can finally move on. I feel like this is a great metaphor for how I feel about Christmas, and why the music is so special (maybe apart from the respawning bit). When I start to hear those familiar favourites once again it’s such a sense of relief; the year is nearly done and we can put it behind us, enjoy the festive period and focus on going into the New Year full of positivity (and chocolate).
I also love Christmas songs because they’re almost like a guilty pleasure brand of music. Often we can be accused of looking down our noses at cheesy pop; smirking at the pitch corrected vocals, simple chord structures and repetitive lyrics only to find ourselves singing along in the car when no one else is around. Ultimately these songs are successful, they wouldn’t keep making them if they weren’t, and that’s because whether we like to admit it or not we do enjoy them. As much as I love a conceptual classic like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ I also love some easy listening. Sometimes a basic pop song that I can sing at the top of my lungs is more valuable to me. Christmas songs fall into this bracket. Although there are some more unique Christmas songs around, the vast majority of them are your classic pop song – catchy, accessible and upbeat – and I love that. The songs are known and loved by everyone; everyone knows the words and for a lot of them everyone knows the music videos. It’s like an annual throwback that we have every year when we sit and watch those Christmas song countdowns on TV – suspensefully wondering which one may come up next and rejoicing when the screen fades in to pan over some snowy mountains before showing George Michael arriving at a ski chalet somewhere. Christmas songs are not only fun and familiar; they also bring back great memories and excitement for Christmas that no other music can claim to.
So in the interest of a fair argument – why do some people hate Christmas songs?
Well first of all I know that I’m very fortunate that Christmas presents a lot of good memories for me. For some people Christmas is seen as being more of a let-down – two months spent anticipating for one day that passes in the blink of an eye followed by disappointment – and for some Christmas has just not historically been a great time. This means the songs don’t carry the same positive weight and in fact can actually do the exact opposite. A reminder of the money needing to be spent, the food needing to be cooked and the family needing to be organised. I must admit if I didn’t like the festive period so much I would find the music frustrating. A constant reminder of something you’re not looking forward to. The fact that the music completely dominates every TV and radio station presenting no escape from forced festivities for which you wish to play no part. Then there’s the repetitiveness – the same music since the 80s; the same mix of cheap pop songs where the artist sticks some bells or the word ‘snow’ or ‘santa’ in once to guarantee themselves a hefty Christmas bonus every year.
I’ve met people in both camps – I know people counting down the days until Christmas starting every January and I know people dreading any talk of it basically up until the day itself. For me though, and from my own experience, Christmas is just a time when most people seem to be happier. There’s something magical about the festivities and the music is a massive part of that. It takes me back to a time when I was up at the crack of dawn to see if Santa had been, seeing family you don’t see much and just spreading some love! The songs are cheesy but that’s what makes them so great – and people can say what they like about ‘Last Christmas’ – but they’ll still be singing along to it at the end of the day!
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