December 07, 2021
When I came into the kitchen for my morning coffee, I heard a Christmas song playing on Melissa’s radio station. I always struggle with deciding when to start preparing for Christmas. The stores and merchandizers all started advertising their expanded Black Friday sales that ran through the month of November. That seemed too early for me. TV’s Hallmark Channel starts their Countdown to Christmas on December 1st and then continues through the 30th. That still seems a bit early and runs a week past Christmas Day. I am never surprised though, as they also have Christmas in July and air a variety of Christmas movies throughout the year. When I asked Melissa why she decided to listen to Christmas songs she told me she had not. The Classic Rock channel on her radio had just started intermixing a few Christmas songs sung by rock groups. As I drove to work, I noticed my channel had also made its annual shift to Country Christmas Radio.
When I looked online, I confirmed something I have always thought. Most well-known artists at some point in their career will decide to record a Christmas song. There are others who go all out and release a Christmas album. Some record classic songs done with a new twist, while others create new songs that they hope with be played for Christmases to come. A few even record the song the way it was written. There have been a few stinkers recorded, but there have also been songs that themselves became classics. An example would be Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Album.” Cole is considered by some to be one of the best singers of all time, and possibly the greatest when it comes to singing soothing Christmas tunes. Cole’s album contains 20 classic carols and festive songs, including his iconic ballad “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”. These are the songs that mostly fill the radio air on an annual basis.
On the other end of the spectrum are the stinkers. RuPaul’s “With Bells On” was offered as an example. This was part of a 1997 Christmas album “Ho Ho Ho” and showed what happens when camp goes bad. The reviewer commented, “You might think Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “With Bells On” would be a natural fit for the supermodel of the world, but just about everything that can go wrong with this does. Ru is flat, Michelle Visage seems to be trying to do vocals for a different song entirely, and worst of all, neither of them are having any fun with it at all.” This overview of Christmas tunes did not even brush the surface of the novelty songs and soundtracks for animated movies. On the flip side (sic), all these songs and albums made money for the artists and are occasionally slipped radio airtime.
Thoughts: “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is a novelty Christmas song written by Randy Brooks. The song was originally performed by the husband-and-wife duo of Elmo Shropshire and Patsy Trigg in 1979 and is one I hear on the radio at least once around Christmas. The songs popularity sparked a 2000 Canadian American animated Christmas TV special of the same name, directed by Phil Roman. The special was first released on home video in October, and then aired on The WB network (later CW) on December 21, 2000. The plot of the video follows the theme of the song, with a caution to beware of too much eggnog. There are many like me who struggle with when to start listening to Christmas songs. Luckily, by Christmas Eve at least, our radio switches for us. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.