Seasons are changing, and very soon it will be Jingle Bell jammin’ time! As a child, all music, but especially country music, cheered me up and calmed me down. I understood that music can be very expressive. I was just six when I started appreciating John Denver’s songs. I was also about that age when I first heard the classic, “Last Christmas.”
The popularity of modern holiday music grows each year. Although holiday music goes back centuries, today’s holiday favorites are deeply rooted in the music of the ’40s and ‘50s. Simply listening to classic versions of popular holiday tracks is enough to keep us cheerful and in high spirits.
We look forward to the holidays with all their sights, sounds, and smells. But, how does music add to our excitement over the entire season? How does holiday music help us dive right into a feel-good mood? I’m no scientist but I think music releases our endorphins and endorphins help us feel pleasure.
I believe that holiday music can be both jovial — yet spiritual — at the same time. For decades, performers from a variety of musical styles have composed holiday tracks. Many popular artists including the rock band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, are known for their takes on seasonal tunes. So, how much do we really know about holiday tracks despite their enduring demand?
Supported by facts from Nielsen’s Portable People Meter (PPM) radio trends, there are some easy-to-dismiss holiday music myths. PPMs are audio measurement meters used in 48 of the largest music markets in the U.S. Some of these trends are in an all-Christmas format and give us insights into the listening habits of holiday music fans.
Holiday Music Myths
A common myth is that only older people enjoy holiday music. But this is not true. Nielsen’s Music 360 Report is a yearly in-depth study of American music consumers. Interestingly, more than a third of holiday music listeners are millennials — the largest consumers of any generation so far.
The holiday spirit is not the only reason why artists come up with holiday music. The real reason why artists actually even put out holiday music is to generate more income at a time when tours are restricted. This explains why certain groups, not normally associated with the holidays, will release a holiday-themed album. Consider Chuck Berry’s 1958 release “Run Rudolph Run.” Then, the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards put out his version of the tune in 2018.
Classics and Radio Hits
We all know how things change when the holiday programs hit the radio dials. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, radio stations see the largest spike in their audiences. The simple presence of all-Christmas format stations shows how much of a moneymaker the holidays have become.
To understand how holiday tunes are really consumed, take a look at the sales charts of seasonal artists. Have you heard “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby? Crosby’s version is a classic success story with millennial fans. Crosby’s track “White Christmas” sold at least 50 million copies.
Some of my personal holiday favorite singers include Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz, Piano music, classical music, and the Blues can take you down memory lane.
Even more popular than radio is the birth of live streaming services. Today, you can hear the Rolling Stones and others rockin’ Christmas tunes on Spotify. So, Christmas music is also adapting to new technologies yet keeping its magical essence. It’s the holiday feeling that counts.
Whether it’s Hanukkah, Christmas, South Asian Festivals, Easter, Halloween, or Thanksgiving, music expresses the soul of these festivals and holidays. So, this year, amid the pandemic, let that thought count when spreading holiday cheer.
In that spirit, we send thanks to all listeners and consumers. Current Affairs Times especially wishes to send holiday greetings to all our viewers and readers. Happy Holidays!
Thumbnail Credits: Christmas Music Stations (images may be subject to copyright).