The Christmas period is always heavily saturated in Music. Most often than not it will be classic tunes related to mistletoes, or trees, pumped through the speakers of every shop you enter. It has also been an important point of judgement though for the music industry. They have used the week of Christmas charts to launch careers, boost sales, make political statements and raise money.
The festive period is usually dominated by songs themed around Christmas, but usually it is not one of these that makes it to number one. The music that makes it to number 1 is often ballads or themes that will ignite the nostalgia of a moment that is particularly poignant during a period where being together with people you love is celebrated. These successful tunes have gone through fashioned trends. Gregarious Xmas rock in the 70’s, soft ballads in the 80’s and charity songs in the 90’s. More recently the mantle of Christmas number 1 has been dominated by TV talent shows. The execs can make a quick buck and it is a sure-fire way to get a new act in front of everyone.
It has been debatable whether any benefits commercially happen for festive winners. Chart toppers of the past such as Michael Jackson, Queen or Whitney Houston were already well recognised. In terms of shows like X Factor it has been hit and miss. While some winners such as the UK’s Leona Lewis built a fast burn career, no one remembers Leon Jackson?
People have not been happy with the situation of reality TV taking over and there is a trend for protest purchases to force a certain song to the fabled number 1 spot. This happened for Smells Like Teen’s Spirit 20-year anniversary and was successful for Rage Against the Machine in the UK in 2009.
Charity has an important part to play with Band Aid’s Feed the World the most notable of past successes. Choirs have become the go to way to raise money and in the UK last year a group of nurses won top spot, whilst a similar choir is vying for it this year.
The change to a digital music industry has affected sales. Music is more widely available and in more forms. Shopping for music can happen year-round and is less of an event Christmas shops can cater for.
Christmas music seems to be a chaotic period nowadays, with very little foresight into what will be particularly successful. Those who try to create a new festive anthem are drowned out by the hundreds of retro classics. This is leading to less and less importance being placed on success on Christmas week by music’s big wigs. This combined with the shifting market changes means we are less likely see stars at the top this time of year.
Christmas number 1 are now more of an accolade. An award that can be used as a marketing tool or to get on lucrative compilation albums. Of course, no one expects there to be critically acclaimed music coming out when people are drunk off rum soaked Christmas pudding. This gives the only open door for philanthropic ventures and novelty movements in a year of hunky men and scantily clad girl bands. I see Christmas moving more towards this type of music in the charts, which can be argued as a good thing during a holiday that celebrates virtues such as charity.