It’s that time of year again (well at least in the UK) where you can’t enter a shopping mall without hearing the same twenty or so Christmas songs on an endless loop. I was mentioning this in the office the other day and as we are quite a cosmopolitan group here in London we had a quite interesting discussion about what Christmas music means in each country.
In the UK, Christmas Music has been an important event in everyone’s life – nostalgic (pre-X-Factor) memories of the epic battles for the coveted Christmas Number One came flooding back with yours truly admitting far too much about liking Christmas records from Wizzard, Slade and (shhh don’t tell anyone) East 17.
Everyone in the UK used to look forward to the Christmas Day “Top Of the Pops” to see artists perform their Christmas singles – something that has seemingly been spoiled by Pop Idol/X-Factor starting to release their winning single to be Christmas Number One. Rage Against the Machine becoming #1 at Christmas a couple of years ago really was a show of the feeling that the British public had grown tired of manufactured Pop acts clogging the charts. Sadly, it only lasted one year as last year the X-Factor winner was back with a bullet as the Christmas Number One, and this year shows no sign of being any different.
In France, Denmark, USA, Spain, Italy and Germany, there isn’t the same kudos to have a Christmas Number One, but music still seems to play a large part in the celebrations:
The Danish have dancing around a tree singing Christmas songs, especially Rudolf Med Den Røde Tud. The Texans like a mixture of Movie soundtracks and classic Country Christmas songs like Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers. The Australians will listen to anything that they can boogie along to as they sunbathe and play volleyball in a pool. The Spanish still enjoy listening to Jose Feliciano. The Italians like parody songs such as Baffo Natale and the French really love their Vintage hits such as Tino Rossi. And in Gibraltar, they have a funny mixture of the UK traditions mixed with Spanish.
Some things I learned about our UK office staff and Christmas:
- Wham’s “Last Christmas” is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people in our office. Probably too many!
- Only the British seem to attach any importance to the Christmas Number One and Simon Cowell’s now ruined it!
- We’re all jealous of the Australians who get to spend Christmas day in a pool having a BBQ.
- We’re slightly less jealous (but still jealous nonetheless) of the Texans who get to have Tamales and BBQ on Christmas Day.
- The Catalans have some strange Christmas traditions – especially “El Tio.” It’s a piece of wood with a big smile on its face and all the children believe that he “delivers” presents. But it’s necessary to sing a song “Caga Tio” in order to have good presents for everybody. During the song they hit the log with some sticks. Here is one example:
- Everyone (no matter what their religion or lack thereof) seems to enjoy the holiday period and especially its music.
And now, to get you all in the Christmas mood here’s a festive playlist for you to try from some artists from The Orchard, and not a single Wham song to be found therein.