If you were to go full Billy On The Street and start running up to strangers on the streets of some random American city to ask them to name a Christmas song, you’d probably get a pretty wide range of responses. (Don’t do this, folks, it being a pandemic and all.) But it’s also likely that the people who didn’t tell you to get the hell away from them with that microphone would name a song from before 1950. That, or they’d say “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which is completely understandable.
So why is it that, when Mariah Carey’s not involved, contemporary Christmas songs tend to vanish from our collective cultural consciousness faster than those little peanut butter Reese’s trees? Unsurprisingly, nostalgia has a lot to do with it.
This explainer from Cheddar breaks down the rise of secular Christmas music, from Irving Berlin’s inspiration for “White Christmas” to the inclusion of songs from the likes of The Waitresses and, yes, Mariah in the Christmas canon. It acknowledges the emotional and contextual layers involved, as well as the intricacies of the recorded music industry. It’s a lot, but the video breaks it down clearly and engagingly. Worth your time. Now go ahead and make your arguments for the seasonal contributions of artists like Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child in the comments. We did our own version of that in a recent Inventory.
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