From the New York Times this week:
"America’s least-loved Christmas song is a Danish recording of Jingle Bells, performed in dog barks. The song — which enjoyed brief success in the United States in 1955 and 1970 — took last place in a test of 579 Christmas recordings, performed by Edison Media Research. Edison played the songs for a national sample of 200 women aged 30 to 49, recruited via e-mail, who said that they either liked or loved Christmas music.
All five of the best-loved Christmas songs are more than four decades old. The newest recording among the top 10 is John Lennon’s 1971 song Happy Christmas (War Is Over).
'It is certainly a place where the rules about who’s relevant are suspended for a month,' said Sean Ross, a radio analyst with Edison. 'Even the Christmas songs that we think of as contemporary, things like Wham’s Last Christmas, are 20 years old at this point.'
Elmo & Patsy’s 1984 novelty track, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, was hated by 17 percent and loved by 47 percent. 62 percent love Nat King Cole's Christmas Song."
Okay, me here. Even though the golden age of Christmas songs was indisputably way back in the 1930s and 1940s, I am still very surprised at how few holiday tracks have gained any real traction in the modern era, say, post 1990.
It's not that any fewer songs are being released; if anything even more artists are trying to cash in on Christmas albums than ever before. I have two theories:
1) Radio is so fragmented now that since we aren't all listening to the same stations anymore there is no such thing as a newer classic that everyone knows.
2) Radio programmers are less likely to take a chance on playing a newer Christmas song than ever before due to increased scrutiny by shareholders who don't like to take a chance that human interference might screw up their spreadsheets. "We already know they like White Christmas so just keep playing that one!"
Perhaps Christmas Shoes by Newsong has become something of a standard since it came out in 1999 but that doesn't make it suck any less. It is truly awful, as was the Rob Lowe TV movie they made out of the song's sappy story. Not that I saw it. I'm just sayin'.
Mary Did You Know is a brilliant song that seems to get more popular every year and is being covered by more and more artists too. Even that was written back in 1984 though (by gospel singer Mark Lowry).
The one recent number that has all the qualities of a standard, a song they'll still be playing in 50 years on whatever replaces radio, is 1994's All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.
Please visit www.ChristmasMusicEveryday if just reading about the song is making you jones to to hear it right now. It's today's free stream.