Updated: Oct 9, 2020
It's a hot take. Hear me out.
As November rolls around each year and you hear Mariah Carey's voice sing those iconic opening lines for the first time in 10 months, we all feel a bit giddy. Christmas is coming and that means presents, money, family and fun. It also means that we cannot walk into a shop without being barraged with the likes of Carey, Slade, Wizzard and the like.
But has anyone in the last 10 years or so really enjoyed hearing these songs for longer than a week or so? They're inescapable, and due to the complete lack of new Christmas songs entering the folklore since Carey's hit in 1994, they're also incredibly repetitious. It's the same 10-15 songs on repeat for a good six weeks or so, and whilst it's fun to hear them for the first week, after that they get tiring very, very quickly.
Part of the reason for this is that Christmas is a time of tradition, and likewise, the songs are traditional. Because of this, it seems that, since the turn of the century, we are no longer willing to accept new applicants onto the Christmas playlists, despite the best efforts of others. Even bonafide superstars such as Coldplay can't get a look in. They've got a Christmas song, but do you ever hear it? Despite selling enough copies to attain a Gold certification, 'Christmas Lights' has barely been heard since its release in 2010. And the truth is, we all feel exactly the same way - but no-one will say it. We don't want to hear Chris Rea's unintelligble mumbling, or Cliff Richard singing about mistletoe and wine. Not for longer than a week anyway, when the incessant overplaying of these songs hits a cliff edge and starts to send us all bananas.
Okay, maybe this is all a little harsh. There are some genuinely good songs in there; 'Do They Know It's Christmas' is not only very good, but it also has an important message and purpose (UPDATE: maybe not). 'Step Into Christmas' by Elton John is also rollicking good fun.
But for the most part, Christmas songs get stale and dull very quickly every year. And yet, instead of rectifying this by introducing fresh tunes into the public consciousness, we carry on with the 'Fairytale of New York', which has lately become controversial for its use of a homophobic slur, and the numerous Christmas songs produced by convicted murderer Phil Spector. It's rather bizarre how the element of tradition can allow us to look past so much in the name of "festivity".
Admittedly, this article is relentlessly "bah, humbug" and it appears to demonise all the classics. But it's not so much about the music itself, rather the endless repetition of the same songs day after day, year upon year. These songs are welcome to remain in the festive season, but surely it's high time that some new Christmas songs were added to the roster, a bit of originality in our festive cheer. That way, we could have the traditional classics, plus a spark of original goodwill.
Of course, it can be difficult to find the forgotten tracks, so below is a Spotify playlist of alternative Christmas songs, should you get tired of the classics during the festive period. Enjoy!