A couple articles about Christmas music to share.
First, the Legend himself, Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC, talks about the surprising RUN-DMC holiday classic, “Christmas In Hollis.” I say surprising because an awful lot of people scoffed when it appeared on the first A Very Special Christmas album next to songs by Madonna, Springsteen, Mellencamp, U2, and Whitney. “That’s not Christmas music!” Au contraire!
And I think the importance of food is a big part of the reason why that song was able to touch so many people—Asian people; Hispanic people; Italian people; Catholics and Buddhists and Muslims. People could relate to that video, because what do you do during holidays and celebratory times? You sit down with your family and share that special meal. So not only does that record touch black people in the hood. It touches Jewish people, German people. It touches people all over the world.
Second, why are there no new classic songs? In the last 30 years there have been what, three new classics? “Christmas In Hollis,” “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” At Salon, Chris Klimen argues that’s another consequence of the digital music revolution.
It’s a shame that A Mary Christmas, like an increasing number of holiday albums, doesn’t bother to submit any new songs for our consideration. Since consumers can simply cherry-pick the songs they want, why make the effort?
I do agree that Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” is solid. Good enough to enter the canon? I guess we’ll see if anyone remembers it in five years.
I also think part of the problem is some of the better recent songs are not necessarily safe for radio. The Pogues’ “Fairytale Of New York” is an all-time great holiday song. But you don’t want to be playing it between songs about the baby Jesus. Same for John Legend’s “Nutmeg,” which appears on Stephen Colbert’s holiday album.