Every year some of the stations on your radio dial spend December playing songs they normally don’t the rest of the year. Usually, they’re referred to as Christmas songs. Supposedly, they celebrate the meaning of Christmas, the fun of Christmas, or use the holiday to make a normal event even more important.
Most of the time they’re right. The songs in this list, not so much.
For some reason, a certain group of songs are only aired at Christmas, recorded for Christmas albums, and so on. I think some of them get a pass because they came from a Christmas movie. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, “Linus and Lucy” (from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and later used in every Peanuts cartoon ever made), and anything that came from a movie in the 1940’s based on Christmas. Really, what does “My Favorite Things” have to do with Christmas? (That has nothing to do with my not liking the song at all. Many of the songs on this list I love.) I group the songs as follows:
The Winter Songs
“Frosty the Snowman” is about a snowman who magically comes to life. That’s it. The only Christmas reference is the Jimmy Durante version that comes from the Rankin-Bass cartoon, where Frosty says he’ll be back on Christmas. I’ve heard a few covers of “Sleigh Ride”–ok, actually one and thank you, Air Supply, although Wikipedia says the Carpenters cover also do this–where Farmer Grey (Gray?) is having a Christmas party instead of a birthday party. (And I’m not sure they mean Jesus’s birthday.) However, most of these songs have nothing to do with Christmas, and don’t even take place at Christmas.
Lovers during Winter
I decided to give this one it’s own section. A spin-off of the Winter songs, these are about lovers who happen to be together during Winter. Again, “Winter Wonderland”, a song about lovers playing with snowmen, and “Let It Snow” are just about being in love at Winter. No reason any of these songs can’t be played any other time of the year, really. An offshoot not worthy of it’s own grouping are the ones where the guy is trying to get in more “sexy time”, or what passes for it in the old days (our “sex” is their “kissing” as far as what qualifies as a “naughty boy”), and using the cold weather as his scheme. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is just some guy trying to keep his girl from going home, even getting her drunk at one point, while “We’ve Got That Holiday Feeling” allegedly takes place at Christmas, but is only about some guy trying not to get kicked out of his girl’s place so he can get in more cuddle time. (One obligitory Christmas reference that comes to mind is when he hopes Santa gets a flat so he doesn’t disturb their smootch session. Yeah, make kids cry so you can get your groove on. Jerk!) However, a minor reference to the season at mind leads to the next grouping.
The Vaguely Christmas song
These songs take place at Christmas (allegedly), but really have nothing to do with the holiday. I don’t know the name of it, and I can’t get Yahoo Music to help, but the song is about a guy who comes across an old girlfriend, gets drunk in her car (because they can’t find a bar open) while she complains about her architect husband, then he watches her drive off (probably to get arrested on a DWI charge later 🙂 ) as it starts to rain. So how does this get played on Christmas? Because the story supposedly happens on Christmas Eve. What? What? I despise this song the way that other guy hates the Christmas Shoes song. Then there’s a version of Jewel’s “Hands”, which supposedly has a Christmas version. From what I can tell, the only thing it has that the standard version doesn’t are jingle bells and a choir. Big whoop! And I otherwise like the song.UPDATE: 11/31/2010: Found out the name of the song. It’s “Same Old Lang Syne” by the late Dan Fogelberg.
How are these Christmas?
This is the final grouping. The ones that have nothing to do with the above groups or Christmas. They don’t reference anything Christmasy. Christmas has no effect on them whatsoever. Heck, they don’t even mention winter, unless the “festival of Steven” is a winter event. Yep, Good King Whatsisname goes here, as does “Greensleeves”. I only hear it at Christmas (or Snicker’s commercials and that one Monkees episode where Davy is singing at a Renaissance fair) on the radio or Music Choice. I have no clue what the Good King’s story is, but “Greensleeves” is just about unrequited love. Now, while I like the song and I’m flattered they wrote a song about my love life of years past, it’s nothing to do with Christmas. “My Favorite Things” also goes on this list (and for the record I hate the song, but not as bad as the drunken rainwalker song above–at least “My Favorite Things” has one cover I can tolerate), but at least that song…no, wait, I just checked and that’s not even from a Christmas movie! I suppose ABC Family thinks The Sound of Music is a Christmas movie, as well as Cars and the Harry Potter series, but I certainly don’t. (I’m not sure Home Alone qualifies either, but that rant is going to have to wait until next Christmas.)
To me, a Christmas song must have at least one of the following references in prominence in the song:
- Jesus’s birth
- Santa Claus and/or his reindeer (not reindeer in general, they must be Santa’s!)
- Christmas day itself, or it’s meaning (peace on Earth, goodwill to men)
- Christmas shopping (usually only works in passing or parody)
- Christmas celebration
Don’t have even one of those? Can you call it a Christmas song? Really? Thoughts?