Christmas music is either a love it or hate it. I don’t think there’s any ground in between, at least if you tend to have opinions about music. But my point wasn’t really to draw the line in the sand and ask you which side you are on in the irreconcilable Christmas Music Conflict.
There’s been lots of speculation or satire about why Christmas music is so popular. I’d be tempted to agree with xkcd that Christmas music an “attempt to recreate the Christmases of Baby-Boomers’ childhoods” if it weren’t for how many of my own generation seem to appreciate it. Most of the music is indeed pretty vintage, but then there are all the modern artists who want to put their own twist on it. Not by writing new songs of course, but by making slightly less good versions of the old ones.
A lot of Christmas lore seems connected with the winters of more extreme northern climates, deep blankets of snow and crackling fires and all that jazz. Growing up in such a climate myself, snow came as a matter of course. More often than not Christmases were accompanied with the almost synonymous atmospherical occurrences found in the songs. Now living in a fairly mild climate and being more aware of just how large a percentage at least of Americans live south of the Mason-Dixon line, it has dawned on me that the idea of snow at Christmas must actually be a foreign experience to some people.
You don’t hear White Christmas any less in non-snowy places, so sometimes you have to wonder if the songs are for some people not talking about a memory as much as an actual wonderland they haven’t had much chance to visit.
Personally I’m kind of dreaming of a white Christmas. That’s not in the forecast for Seattle of course, but it’s still in the songs. I’m not so sure that I find the music any less grating when it’s talking about something that doesn’t exist here.
There’s nothing inherently bad about Christmas music, my dislike probably comes from two of the more important characteristics of my musical taste. First, pretty much all Christmas music tends to sound pretty similar, at least the Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby genre, and all the covers thereof. The problem is that none of this sounds remotely like the types of music I like to listen to during the other 10 months of the year, so why would my tastes change in December, and increasingly, November?
The second characteristic of my musical taste that Christmas music defies is the novelty. I enjoy new music, and music that is new to me. The set of music that I know by heart and have listened to dozens of times, I have the impression anyway, is a lot smaller than the mental collection of a lot of other people.
But let’s not be bitter. Christmas music undoubtedly has a nostalgic feel for the most part, and it’s not really my thing. But why do people get more excited about it than Sweet Home Alabama, or Yellow Submarine? Anyone care to share?