Saturday night, my girlfriend and I were enjoying some Rosa’s when she asked, “Is that Gloria Estefan?” I wasn’t immediately aware of what she was talking about, as I had to remove myself from the nachos and fajita with queso induced frenzy (#4/#14 for those of you lucky enough to have a Rosa’s in your town), but as I regained consciousness, I became aware of a distinctly latin sounding “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” coming through the speakers. I’m a Gloria Estefan fan so I definitely didn’t hate this version as much as I usually do whatever recycled Christmas elevator filler assaults my ear holes from Nov. 25 to Jan.1. But it still didn’t shake my belief that we are long overdue for a holiday music purge.
Now before you all come to my house to shiv me with your sharpened candy canes, I’m not talking about tossing out all the old songs; though I do think that would be the most beneficial to us as a society. I’m talking more of a world wide summit meeting where we decide what songs we’re keeping, whose versions we’re keeping, and which artists are going to be allowed to continue recording Christmas music in the future.
So worry not all you perpetually single basic girls, you’ll still be able to drunkenly karaoke Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas” two dozen times a year. This just means that it’s only Mariah’s version we’ll be hearing. If we’re going to make hers the one we run with, then I don’t need to hear how Carrie Underwood’s or Jessica Simpson’s versions sound. Pick an artist to be in charge of a song, and stop letting everyone else crank out lazy Christmas album after lazy Christmas album where the only thing that changes about the damn song is the title of the artist singing it and how long they want to drag out the ending note for.
I’m all for the classics, but there’s nothing groundbreaking in the composition or lyrics of any Christmas song ever created, ever, so there’s really little chance that Beyonce’s “Winter Wonderland” is going to be any different than Kelly Clarkson’s. Plus, it’s all just so insincere. These artists plop out a Christmas album for our consumption on the grounds that “they just want to brighten up our homes with some holiday spirit,” but come on, we all know your end game. You need to pad your Q4 numbers, a Christmas album takes no creativity, virtually zero effort, and will sell itself to your loyal hordes of fans.
In high school, I would work during the summers as a lifeguard at one of the country clubs in town. The worst part about the job was we had to keep the XM radio on the Top 20 station, so if you worked a full day you were likely to hear the same song anywhere from 3-5 times. Now imagine hearing the same song 5 times during your workday, only that song is “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” and it’s Michael Buble and Sheryl Crow. Sounds like hell, right? This is what retailers subject their employees to for a month. Holiday stations played on a loop, the same dozen songs recycled by the same ten or so artists, with the only differences being at what time the sleigh bells come in.
Now imagine if we could give those people a world where they won’t have to go into work wondering whether it’ll be Shania Twain’s “Away in a Manger,” or Whitney Houston’s ” Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” that gets played on repeat as they try to go to sleep tonight. Don’t we owe it to them for already having to make them suffer through our terrible holiday commercialism in the first place? I know if I were having to be at Macy’s or Target or one of the other Christmas shopping Meccas, I would hate my life choices a lot less if I weren’t subjected to 8-12 hours of repeated Christmas music against my will.
Ultimately, it’s about wanting better for ourselves as a society. Why have we allowed the same songs to be recycled year after year? Nostalgia? Are we really to believe that Christmas at Grandma’s would have been a shitwalk if we hadn’t had Harry Connick Jr. serenading our entire weekend with the same rendition of “Frosty the Snowman,” that Bing Crosby already sung fifty years ago? Toss out the old stuff and let’s see what kind of producer/artist Bruno Mars really is. .
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