There are no shortage of classic Christmas songs in the hypothetical Great Christmas Songbook. From more religious fare such as Silent Night, to child-friendly favourites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, to more contemporary tunes like Last Christmas by Wham, there’s seemingly an endless stream of hot holiday jams. However, it’s been a long time since a new Christmas song has reached classic status. If my calculations are correct, the last song to hit classic status is All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey circa 1994. Why hasn’t any Christmas song reached that plateau since?
It’s not like there’s a shortage of holiday music being made. This year saw new Christmas albums from Kelly Clarkson and Mary J. Blige, and there have been countless new Christmas songs released by big time artists since Mariah Carey’s holiday home run. Heck, some of these new songs are actually pretty good in their own right. However, even the best new songs don’t have the legs to carry them past their first holiday season. Doesn’t anyone remember Mistletoe by Justin Bieber? How about Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga? No? Me neither. Will anyone remember Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson next year? Despite the song hitting #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart, I hadn’t even heard the song till I looked it up just now. I actually think it’s quite catchy, but that song’s odds of lasting beyond this year are slim to none.
To say that artists today make crap music is a short-sighted answer that fails to account for all of the other variables at play. Have we as a society just settled with what we already know? Is our music culture so fractured now that we as a collective will never agree to vault any one song to that level? Has Christmas as a holiday lost some of its former razzle dazzle? This mystery is one that has racked my brain for years and one that I’m probably not smart enough to solve.