Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hey, Radio Programmers: How About Playing a Few New Holiday Songs Next Christmas?

As we get ready to close up shop here for our annual post-holiday hiatus, I thought it might be interesting to take one final look at Billboard's most recent Holiday Music Charts.  I was wrong. Nothing to see here, folks. These listings look pretty much the same as they've been throughout the season. In fact, the Airplay chart hasn't changed much since I wrote my last letter to Santa Claus. (I'm reluctant to share my exact age here, but I can tell you that stamps back then only cost a dime.)

Here are the latest tallies for this year:

I know I must sound like a broken record on the subject, but the average age of the ten most frequently played holiday songs this season is 50 years old! Now, it's not that I've necessarily got anything against any of these songs (well, OK, I'd love it if I never had to hear Mariah Carey again), but wouldn't it be nice to see a few stations take a chance and play some music recorded after color television was invented?

To get things started, I figured I'd suggest a few relatively recent releases that today's audiences might enjoy hearing amongst the old-time classics. Here, off the top of my head and in no particular order, are eight possibilities:

A Long Way Home, Sofia Talvik (2014)

Mrs. Claus Ain't Got Nothing on Me, Little Jackie (2010)

Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (2009)

A Christmas Song for You, The Kik (2011)

Christmas In New York, by The Rosebuds (2012)

My Favourite Time of the Year, The Florin Street Band (2011)

Wish List, Neon Trees (2010)

Christmas at the Airport, Nick Lowe (2012)

I could easily pull together another couple of dozen suggestions, but I think I've made my point. Our culture seems to be at a particularly awkward point in its development just now, as we watch two fundamentally different trends continue to unfold. On the one hand, our mass media has become bland and lifeless as TV, radio and traditional print outlets are either gobbled up by a small handful of powerful corporations or quietly put out of their misery. The result is an industry that panders to the lowest common denominator so as to avoid offending potential consumers, or at least Hollywood's conception of what the typical consumer now is. On the other hand, we have the internet — a truly revolutionary tool that gives everyone a microphone and printing press and helps even small groups of like-minded fans to find one another and support an infinite variety of tastes and styles. Of course, the very diversity the internet serves can be manipulated to divide people into ever smaller segments and thereby exert greater overall control over society as a whole, which is why it's so important to follow developments on both a macro and micro level. The challenges we face as a society require increasing vigilance and involvement, along with a generous dollop of holiday spirit and cheer.

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