Think of your favorite Christmas music. Those songs that you love to hear, each and every year.
How many of those songs were written after, say 1986?
Seriously – name a “classic” or widely-known Christmas song released* in the last 25 years.
*And let’s be clear: I’m talking about NEW songs – not covers, remakes, parodies, medlies, or anything else borrowing from a previously released song (such as. James Brown taking “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and making it into “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag”).
Can you do it?
I found a list of Christmas/holiday hit singles in the United States on Wikipedia. Here are some of the ones that could, potentially, be in the argument for “classic”:
- “Believe”, Josh Groban, 2004
- “Where Are You Christmas?”, Faith Hill, 2000
- “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, Mariah Carey, 1994
- “Christmas All Over Again”, Tom Petty, 1992
- “Grown Up Christmas Wish”, David Foster & Natalie Cole, 1990
- “Christmas in Hollis”, Run DMC, 1987
And let’s face it, some of those are a serious stretch and should probably not be considered “classic” in any sense of the word. Other than that? Christmas music for a big chunk of my lifetime has been little more than a re-hash of the same songs that my parents and grandparents enjoyed.
Each year, a dozen different bands and artists release a Christmas album. There are usually 90% covers and a few forgettable (or downright painful) original songs. Very rarely do any of those new songs stand the test of time.
There is definitely room for good remakes of the classics and standards. I love the Mannheim Steamroller & Trans-Siberan Orchestra arrangements of traditional Christmas songs. I’ve rocked out with Gary Hoey’s electric guitar tracks. The Barenaked Ladies’ Christmas album is one of the better ones I’ve heard in a while. Michael Buble does a good job of capturing the sound of the standards.
But I still want something new, and something worthy of being played several times a day by those radio stations who play nothing by Christmas music from mid-November through early January.