Christmas Music 2011

Walk into your local Target and you’ll see an endcap full of Christmas music.  There’s a few collections made just for Target, usually a young newer artist who puts out an EP exclusive, and there will be some collection CD’s re-releasing the same 24 versions of the same 24 songs that have been on nearly every other Christmas compilation since they were first created. There’s the seasonal chestnuts that manage to show themselves every year–Christmas classics (although the “classics” are getting newer and newer each season) that everybody almost already owns.

This is what Target considers a “classic.”

And there’s the new Christmas CD from a handful of artists who are doing their best to jump on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” money-making bandwagon.  If you create a good Christmas album, it will sell forever, and you can live off the residuals for the rest of your life.  (There’s a reason Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller keeps releasing variations of the same album every year.)  This year, you can find new albums by Carole King, Michael Bublé, and every young girl’s favorite, Justin Bieber.

As much as I love Christmas music, I still can’t bring myself to buy it.

You want a bit more variety so you listen to your local “Christmas music” station.  The trouble is, radio appeals to the lowest common denominator, so you’ll get more variety at first–but quickly you’ll discover that the same songs get played over and over again.  Here in Seattle, you can listen to KCMS the weeks before Christmas and be guaranteed to hear Boney M’s version of “Mary’s Boy Child/O My Lord” at least three times a day.  It’s a fun song, but how many other versions of “Mary’s Boy Child,” by much better artists, deserve to be heard?

If you’ve heard their “Mary’s Boy Child,” you’ve heard it all.

You can go the Pandora route, which gives you even greater variety and the ability to “like” what plays, which means you’re going to hear more stuff that fits your style.  But even then, it tends to be stuff that is more popular, more readily available, and certainly more recent–which means you’re going to miss out on a bunch of great music.

This holiday season, I will endeavor to share one Christmas album that you probably haven’t heard before.  Some of them are free from folks who like to share out of print records, and I’m grateful for them–they’ve certainly been a huge part of my success in creating an iTunes playlist of nearly 9,000 Christmas songs.  Some you can pick up on Amazon or iTunes.

There’s a lot of great Christmas music out there.  And we have exactly 25 days to enjoy it.  To kick it off, here’s one of my favorite tracks by The J’s With Jamie: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”


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