Amazingly narrow play lists. I mean, c’mon on radio people, you toss out your “format” completely, but you still can’t fully commit. You pick a few dozen songs and play them over and over. Is there any reason I’m hearing Andy Williams “Happy Holidays” 4 times a day? Didn’t he record any other Christmas songs? This isn’t top 40 radio. There’s no top forty Christmas count down you have to stick to and if there were I’m darn certain Gloria Estefan wouldn’t be on it. They’ve been writing Christmas music for like 2,000 years. There must be another song you can use.
Playing recent remakes over the classics. It’s one thing to play “White Christmas” over and over. But Rod Stewart’s version? Yikes! And why am I hearing the same lame Jackson Five version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”? Hasn’t that been recorded by a zillion people? If you’re committed to playing the song twice an hour, how about by a different performer each time?
And along those lines: Ignoring the originals. “Christmas Song?” Nat King Cole. “Merry Xmas?” John Lennon. These go without saying. But let’s take it further; “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?” Judy Garland’s version. “Silver Bells?” Bob Hope introduced the song; let’s hear that once in a while.
What can I say, Tony Bennett, bless his soul, 80+ years old and included on modern play lists. That’s great. But where’s Mel Torme, eh? He had a couple of decent holiday songs as I recall. The radio people will play a duet between a 100-year old Frank Sinatra and Cindy Lauper (???), but not his “Christmas Waltz.” See, something is wacky here.
There’s a surprising lack of Phil Sector and the Boston Pops all around.
Oh; “These are a Few of my Favorite Things” from “Sound of Music?” Not a Christmas song. “Oh,” programmers might insist, “it’s a wonderfully delightful song.” Well, if it is, how come it’s not on your play list the rest of the year?
For some reason, they skip right over the 1950/60s rock. They play Bing Crosby or Perry Como from the 40s and a bunch of songs from the 70s up, but no “Run, Run Rudolph,” no “Little St. Nick,” or any doo-wop. That Drifters version of “White Christmas” is nothing to sprinkle salt on. Also, more Elvis. The fact that this needs to be pointed out is saddening.
Let’s hear some novelty songs: Alvin and the Chipmunks. Grandma and the reindeer. The kid who wants his two front teeth. Anything with the Muppets, people.
And as much as we love the novelty songs, here’s a concept you can use; for Christmas, why not play some Christmas carols? How about “Joy to the World,” “Hark, the Herald Angles Sing” or “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem?” Think on it. Just because Josh Groban or Mariah Carey didn’t record it doesn’t mean you can’t play it.
Please take note: taking a piece of classical music and having kids scream “Merry Christmas” over and over doesn’t make it a Christmas song. Also, not every Christmas song needs words. Instrumentals, they’re called. Look into it.
Would it kill you to toss in some TV holiday show soundtrack songs? Christmas is about fond memories and hearing the “Waa-Who Forus” song from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” never fails to make me smile. I know the recording exists, I own it. Anything from “Rudolph,” from “Frosty,” and especially from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” should be in the mix. Heck, they should play the entire Charlie Brown soundtrack once a day.
And finally, what’s with the sudden cut-off after December 25th? It’s still the holiday season, after all. You could still drop in a couple of songs up until January 6th. You could play “The Twelve Days of Christmas” or “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (get it?) Heck, when you think about it, half the songs the radio plays (“Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman”) aren’t even Christmas songs. They’re just about wintertime and heaven knows we still have a lot of winter ahead of us. We could sure use some holly-jolly around February. All the more so when you’re stuck listening to the radio at work and you’re not in charge of what station is on.
When one considers the breath and width of holiday music, one sees the endless varieties possible. Taking one song from each category and playing it again and again isn’t one of them. I guess, ultimately, what’s wrong with radio Christmas music is what’s wrong with radio music the rest of the year; limited play list and a small roster of artists played in the exact same order each day. Just at Christmas time, they cover it with tinsel. Ho-Ho-Hum.