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Mariah Carey’s ‘Merry Christmas’ is one album to jam out to this holiday season. (via @portalpopmix on Twitter)

Debating the right time to play Christmas music

It’s almost that time of year, when jolliness and festivity seem to hang in the air, and while the world may look and operate differently than 20 years ago, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Whether people choose to celebrate or not, the holiday season has become the center for some musicians to release their own renditions of the classic holiday hits. Unlike any other genre, holiday music has the ability to be released over and over again and still receive worldwide recognition. Despite how jolly Christmas music is, some believe it’s too early to begin listening, while others believe one should listen to whatever makes them happy.

“A lot of the holiday music we hear, a lot of it hasn’t changed since the ‘50s,” Dr. Sean Parsons, Ohio University associate lecturer of Jazz and Music Theory, said. “It’s very nostalgic for a lot of people and a lot of it is coming out of the second world war. Maybe they listened to that music with their family, but it’s largely been unchanged, and anyone who does music makes a Christmas album, there’s so much money in it.”

Many Christmas movies around the World War II era revolved heavily around the aspect of military homecomings. The movie “White Christmas,” is about two veterans who then engage in a music career where they go off to Vermont to write Christmas songs. The iconic holiday film popularized the song “White Christmas” and helped Bing Crosby become one of the most well-known holiday artists. His song reached the number one most-popular Christmas song in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Christianity is the most widespread religion in the world allowing it to reach the largest demographic of people. That being said, the songs of that genre perform remarkably well in comparison to other songs released; even if they’re from the same artist. 

Mariah Carey’s musical career isn’t defined by her 1995 song, “Fantasy,” it’s likely associated with her Christmas classic, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The holiday staple has been streamed over 551 million times on YouTube. The song also broke the record of most streams in a single day back on Christmas Eve of 2018 with 10.8 million stream.

One debate that often leaves people divided is, “how soon is too soon for Christmas music?” For many, the line is drawn between the day after Thanksgiving and Dec. 1.

“Christmas music should only be played the day after Thanksgiving,” Charlie Knox, a freshman studying strategic communications, said. “My family believes strongly in the importance of Thanksgiving and it has been increasingly overlooked in favor of Christmas.”

Even with platforms such as Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify, the change in music genre was initially started by radio stations. Following 9/11, iHeartMedia’s music station in New York City, WLTW, put Christmas music into the radio waves feeling as though the audience would appreciate the more positive music. In 2005, that same station became the first in New York to play only holiday music before Thanksgiving. 

Max Austin, a junior studying political science pre-law, doesn’t recognize a specific starting date for the Christmas season.

“The way I’ve always seen it is that if it makes you happy to listen to it, start whenever you want,” Austin said. 

In the last several years, newer modernized groups have emerged reshaping the music scene as a whole. Groups such as Pentatonix, a rising a cappella pop group, made its way into the spotlight through a cover of “Hallelujah,” which acquired over 466 million YouTube plays. Groups embracing Christmas classics with a pop twist appear to be setting the stage for future holiday streams.

What seems to make the merry genre so versatile is that musicians of any subgroup of music can participate. Artists from categories such as country, R&B, classic rock and heavy metal and many more have participated in the trend.

So, for those wondering if it’s too soon to start listening, the decision is still up in the air. The trend of popular artists making their holiday albums doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and listeners tune in regardless of degree of originality, people just want to have a holly jolly Christmas.


Jack Hiltner

Digital Director

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