A Victory for Walmart Employees: Less Bieber and Celine Dion in Stores

When I worked at the local Family Fare grocery store in high school and college, I hated Christmas. Not only was it prime baking season–tons of flour and sugar had to be replentished on an hourly basis–but the boss would leave the same goddamn 8-track of Christmas music playing on the PA all day.  I can still remember the running order: “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives; “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano; “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee; “Winter Wonderland,” Darlene Love version…  It was awful. By the time Christmas Day rolled around employees (save the boss) were close to a psychotic rage.

This is why I feel I must celebrate this.  In what can only be seen as a victory for employees of Walmart, the company has acquiesced (caved?) to employee requests (demands?) that songs by Justin Bieber and Celine Dion not be played as much in the 11,000 or so stores around the world. This came as the result of an employee rally ( revolt?) at the company’s annual meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas last week.

Along with relaxing the dress code and raising the starting hourly wage for 100,000 employees, Walmart has promised to play less Dion and Bieber, replacing loops of their songs with a new in-store broadcast called Walmart Radio. From the Washington Post:

Thousands of the big-box retailer’s workers are gathered here for its annual shareholders meeting, and Wednesday, executives unveiled to U.S. workers a list of changes they can expect to see in the stores and distribution centers that are aimed at boosting employee morale — and indirectly, improving customer service.

The one that seemed to draw the most whoops from the crowd was a pledge to ditch a CD that has apparently been on loop in the stores for months and begun to drive employees crazy. The CD was a punch line multiple times in executives’ presentation to workers, including when a puppet character named Willie joked that being a Wal-Mart store worker was getting dangerous. When Mike Moore, executive vice president of supercenters, asked why, Willie replied, “One of my fellow associates recently developed a serious eye-tic from hearing Celine Dion’s greatest hits on loop in our stores.” Justin Bieber was also name-checked as one of the singers featured on the notorious CD.

Wal-Mart stores and distribution centers will soon have a new soundtrack that they’re calling Wal-Mart Radio, in which a DJ will spin tunes to be pumped through the stores.

There is a god. Working at Walmart just got a little easier.

And now, please enjoy this People of Walmart Moment:


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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