what makes a christmas song good?

It’s the most wonderful time to be bombarded with holiday music that has been playing since July (low key though, I was listening to one song, ONE song… in July).

It always happens in July for some reason. Maybe we’re missing the cold in the 1000 degree heat. We typically regret that during late November when we’re freezing (except the West Coast and South, just don’t say anything). It’s always that sweet diminished seventh chord that makes me feel Christmas all in my blood mixed with some green to compliment it — not in like a concerning way, though).
If you didn’t know, there’s a famous Christmas chord that makes a song sound, feel, and taste like Christmas. Apparently. Check this out for a brief explanation.

Cool, welcome back. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but… whatever.

Something very, very obvious from the video is how much Mariah stole from the best.

Chill, everyone steals from everyone, so long as you steal from the great ones. While “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is attributed to the rhythmic structure of “All I Want For Christmas is You” (AIWFCIY), to my ear The Ronette’s arrangement of “Frosty the Snowman” (from the same Phil Spector record) resembles the drive and buoyancy of AIWFCIY; this would also apply to The Crystal’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.

Aside from the harmony and rhythmic structure, the lyrical content of AIWFCIY is quite similar to Irving Berlin’s “White

Christmas”, Hugh Martin’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, and Johnny Mark’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”.

All three songs are quite relatable with no sort of agenda. There’s no “religion” attached to it (there’s the “Jesus Christmas” and the “Commercial Christmas” — not my fault, I’m just stating facts), no political stance, nothing of the sorts. The songs are just nostalgia of some sort surrounding the holidays with your friends and loved ones.

Now, how AIWFCIY is classified as a “modern classic” that continues to tops the charts has to do with the production technique, “Wall of Sound.”

You know how that polished and dense “pop” sound make a banger a banger? It’s that. And boy does AIWFCIY take full advantage. Here’s a short video of what this whole “Wall of Sound” thing is about.

Now that we’re clear on the harmonic, rhythmic, and nostalgic facets of AIWFCIY, let’s move on from the good.

Here’s what I don’t like about most Christmas songs today. Though the Wall of Sound worked wonders for AIWFCIY, it has now become way too oversaturated. There is much more of a focus on the production aspect to make it sound “aesthetically pleasing” and “fun”. To that effect, most of these Christmas songs forego the lyrical content, with cheesy phrases, uninspired messages, and unalluring nicknames like “shawty”. As long as it’s catchy, no need to worry about the lyrics. The simplicity of the harmonic progressions seems almost dull (or completely, depending on the song). And the autotune. Oh, the autotune. There’s not much I can say there that you wouldn’t already think. All of these skewed facets are the polar-opposite to what AIWFCIY embodied. So, why haven’t producer’s been able to tap into those prolific facets? That’ll be for another time.

Has there been a song that’s come close to becoming a”modern classic” and a defined timeless appeal post AIWFCIY?
Here are some trendy songs that I believe make out to be a great Christmas song.

“Underneath the Tree” – Kelly Clarkson
“Believe” – Josh Groban
“Where Are You Christmas?” – Faith Hill
“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” – N’Sync

And who can forget this modern classic for LIFE:

Zach Aldana
I am a musician with a focus in voice. I studied music during my undergraduate years, receiving a degree in Music at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My musical experience stems back from when I was three years old singing in a church choir. 22 years later, I've participated in numerous choirs, some of which have toured internationally from South Korea to Wales. I am also a classically trained singer, performing solos around the world, most notably for Kelly Clarkson's Piece by Piece World Tour at the Allstate Arena in 2015. Aside from performing, I also enjoy songwriting, analyzing music, and of course, stating my opinion about all things music. Aside from that, I am a graphic designer and web developer. I began graphic and web design at the age of eight. In time, I have been commissioned to help schools and universities, businesses, and personal clients develop their presentation and online exposure. ​

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