By Jason Menard
I give up. I can’t keep up the façade any longer. It’s barely mid-month and the Christmas spirit has been beaten out of me.
The culprit – Christmas songs.
It all started so innocently. Back in November, I’d walk through a store and off in the distance I’d hear the faint strains of something holly and jolly. At the time, it struck me as odd, but I shrugged it off. After all, I love the holiday season, and these first few melodies were akin to seeing the first robin of spring – a pleasant harbinger of things to come. Little did I know that first metaphorical robin would turn into a Hitchcockian nightmare.
Little by little, the songs crept up on me: in the malls, on the radio in my car, on the canned music at work. At first, they were pleasant distractions from the everyday, but slowly, surreptitiously, they grew in number and frequency to the point where I can’t move without being exposed to another Christmas song.
And then it finally dawned on me. There are too many Christmas songs!
As a society, we need to declare a moratorium on any new holiday songs. Maybe we can set up an independent tribunal that determines whether a new submission can be added to the canon of Holiday classics.
In fact, new Christmas songs wouldn’t bother me – what drives me around the bend is the fact that every artist enjoying their 15 minutes of fame feels the need to add their distinctive stamp to holiday classics – and not so classics – of the past. And instead of having some fun, they take themselves too seriously, ululating their way through these songs as if to show that their particular vocal gymnastics have created the definitive rendition of a particular song.
Head out to the discount racks of your local music store and you’ll be able to sift through the wreckage of failed careers – consider it a seasonal cultural anthropology project! They say that every snowflake is unique – well, maybe the same concept should be extended to the music of the season. That way, we won’t be buried in an avalanche of barely distinguishable music.
Now, I’m really not old enough to state that the holidays begin and end with Bing Crosby! Or, maybe we’ll let that Burl Ives fellow slip through. But I am old enough to be confident in saying that we didn’t need Celine Dion to cover Feliz Navidad – Mr. Feliciano handled that quite nicely the first time around.
And just because people feel the need to churn out this holiday drivel, it doesn’t mean we have to listen to it! Just because our Canadian or American Idol of the moment chooses to stave off the inevitable descent into obscurity by issuing a collection of holiday “classics,” doesn’t mean that our radio DJs need to come salivating like Pavlovian reindeer to the trough!
There are just not enough hours in the day to play the overwhelming catalogue of Christmas songs. Yet, in an attempt as futile as my attempts to fasten my belt after Christmas dinner, our various music outlets continue to try and squeeze more and more bad music into the day!
We lament the lack of Christmas spirit these days. And one of the first places we point to is the mall – where angry customers clash with frustrated vendors. We are quick to blame the beleaguered sales staff without realizing that they are working in an environment where this music rotates incessantly! That’s got to have an effect on your psyche.
Christmas is a special time of year. But for more and more of us, hearing a Christmas song results less in a smile and more in an audible groan. We have CanCon regulations that strictly restrict the allowable content on our radio stations – why can we not put the CRTC to an effective use and restrict the number of holiday songs we hear in a given year.
Let’s say no Christmas carols until Dec. 15 th or after the first snowfall that sticks! No more than one song per 10 on rotation in retail and commercial environments. And no Celine Dion – but that’s more of a personal preference, nothing else.
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