How Do You Make a Christmas Song That’s Not So Cringey?

I’m proud to be a Christmas pop music lover. Whether it’s New Kids On the Block’s”Fun, Fun, Christmasby Taylor Swift”Christmas tree farm,” or cover”Santa Claus,” give me a holiday tune by a famous artist and I’ll gobble it up.

But I think we can all agree: different Christmas pop songs take up very different roles in our holiday playlists. To that end, I’d like to suggest three main types of Christmas tunes. First is Merry Christmas Music, which includes songs that sound like cuddling under a blanket in front of a fire. Others feel like that ugly Christmas sweater you can proudly wear at a family gathering—these are the tunes I affectionately call Christmas cringe. Still others have a taste of the 18th century fat pudding recipe I concoct every year over the holiday season; these are christmas cosplay songs that recreate the musical aesthetic of bygone eras.

Each genre has a special place in the holiday music ensemble, but each also has its own unique relationship to the pop compositions and sounds that American audiences have been trained to associate with. Christmas. And digging deeper into how these different tunes impact our holiday heart beats could even predict how the genre might change over the next few years, helping us get a glimpse of his Christmas musical future.

Much has been said about how arrive write one the song that sound Christmas convincingly; It is a recall holiday, so it often means recalling childhood memories. Due to the mixture of baby boomthe Consumption increased of pop music in the 1950s and 60s, and racial dynamics of holiday music Quantitygenerations of Americans have spent their childhood listening to pre-rock American pop music “traditional” at Christmas time — the Christmas version of Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

Final result? From Thanksgiving to New Year, grocery stores, office parties, and streaming services teach us to associate Christmas with mid-century croonists singing across an entire sketch orchestra. drafted 1960s doo-wop shuffle mixes—along with, of course, bell.

This poses a problem for contemporary pop artists, who use dramatically different sounds, harmonies, melodies and rhythms. What does sound convincing mean? The current means something very different than it means sound Christmas-y.

A TikTok video I made with producer Helkin Sosa, singer Heloise Goncalves, and designer Holly Broderick shows the gap between The current pop music music and Christmas Music. We started with a short 21st century pop lick and turned it into something of a Christmas vibe, changing chords, rhythms and instruments along the way. (And yes, we add bells.)

We can imagine each of these changes like a stop on a train between The current music and Christmas Music. If an artist changes their signature boom-bat beat arrive shuffle swing reminiscent of traditional Burl Ives-style Pop, they’ve gone all the way to the Christmas warehouse. If they add orchestral instruments to their otherwise sparse band, the artist has gone to another stop. Depending on how different an artist’s native sound is from the archetypal Christmas mix, they’ll need to move more stops to create a Christmas song. For example, there are many stops between a hip-hop or EDM artist’s music station and a Christmas station, while a musical performer has to travel a much smaller distance. Here is a GIF (linked to video with sound) to illustrate what I mean:

The holiday “genre train”, showing how far artists went to compose Christmas Songs (design by Holly Broderick)

White Chris

The different ways musicians negotiate this holiday train make up my three genres of Christmas music. Merry Christmas the music of the artists who are the station’s natural neighbours, sounded comfortable because their tunes all matched our expectations of that artist and of Christmas music. Michael Bublé, Norah Jones and Pentatonix all fall into this category. Even pop artists use recall sound in their own voices can create Christmas comfort; Meghan Trainor apparently holds a commuter pass for the mid-century doo-wop sound, so when she continue a few more stopsit feels like she really has come a very short way.

christmas cosplay the songs take longer to reach the Christmas sound. Because these artists change up nearly everything about their musical style, they’re essentially “doing a little” with their holiday music. When the cat Doja cover “Little Santa Claus” in an homage to Marilyn Monroe, or the Jonas Brothers open Their original holiday song “Like It’s Christmas” with the trio of barbershops, these artists are eliminating The current sounds to wear traditional Pop costumes.

Third—and my absolute favorite—is the ugly cardigan of holiday music: Christmas cringe. These are artists whose musical styles are based many miles from the Christmas sound, but they don’t make the full journey. Lady Gaga’s 2010 Single”Christmas tree” input the EDM sounds of her midway hits and simply add the sleigh bells interspersed. By using doo-wop chord progressions but keeping all other aspects of her signature pop sound, Britney Spears only moves a single stop as she sings.”My only wish.” This illustrious genre also includes films like Destiny’s Child’s.”8 days of Christmas“The Lost Children’ “christmas eve,” and Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.” These songs include the dissonance between their artist’s style and the sound we associate with Christmas to create the beautiful mismatch that is Christmas cringe.

The above My Christmas Music Quarter infographic above maps all of these holiday songs by how much they sound like Traditional Christmas Pop and how much they sound like the artist’s signature style (followed by TikTok below sampling some of the sounds in each quadrant). Appease the melody sounds like the artist’s The current style and love the gentle intonation of Rosemary Clooney. And while cower the song sounds like the artist but not like Dean Martin, disguise do the opposite.

Overall, this music map shows how contemporary pop artists are allocating different territories among themselves. The current sounds and patterns Christmas sound. The result is a musical Christmas tree incorporating blown glass heirlooms (the disguise jewelry of the past), with this year’s signature Hallmark ornaments (a contemporary style Comfortable tradition) and the surfing Santa Claus ornament you picked up at Boca Raton (a nice hint about cower).

The chart also illustrates a fourth possibility. Christmas conversation evoke holiday nostalgia do not have Traditional Pop reference. These tunes don’t exactly resonate with the artist’s 11-month-old sound, nor do they match Judy Garland’s standards. When the Backstreet Boys reference their ’90s sound in “Together,” or “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” by Moonalice using Barry White-esque style funk/disco, they end up in this quadrant.

These beauties don’t match Christmas conversation reminds us that traditional Pop can’t hold a monopoly on Christmas forever. So lots of belong to recently Music featured sounds from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and TikTok encouraged a The famous music in the late 20th century. As American listeners discover nostalgia in a wider variety of sounds, Christmas music will increasingly have a place in the music scene. Christmas conversation quadrant—at least, that’s my guess.

While I doubt the sound of traditional Pop will soon fade into oblivion, I look forward to hearing my childhood—not just those of my parents and grandparents—reflected in Christmas music. These new experiments will indeed be an exciting addition to our collective musical Christmas trees.

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