Let me explain myself.
Over the last couple of decades, a growing number of radio stations have flipped to an all-Christmas format starting as early as the end of September. Good on them. This is a very smart ratings move because for a few weeks of the year, people LOVE hearing nothing but holiday music. This means bigger ratings and that means more revenues through the lean winter months.
Because so many stations have jumped on this bandwagon, artists are trying to cash in on the craze and have been releasing holiday songs at an insane rate. Each year, there are more and more of them.
Here’s the hard truth, though: The songs that gain traction with the all-Christmas folks are traditional songs. They can be original–like Perry Como’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”–or they can be covers of those traditional songs. That explains why so many artists default to the tried and true for their Christmas releases.
Managing to have a hit original Christmas song is really, really, really hard, especially if that song has been released over the last 25 years. Tradition will always win out because Christmas is all about tradition and continuity and the good old days, right?
Other stations–like the ones which carry The Ongoing History of New Music--do not pander to the mainstream at this time of year. Yeah, they play their share of holiday tunes, but they don’t go overboard. Everything in moderation, I say–which brings me to this year’s Ongoing History Christmas Spectacular.
My goal is to give some love to holiday songs that will never get played on the mainstream adult contemporary all-Christmas stations. This is not the kind of stuff that flies in offices, stores, Christmas parties, or when Grandma is in the room.
When I started doing these shows back in 1993, it was hard to find enough material to fill an hour. In fact, for the ten years after that, there was quite a bit of repetition because there just weren’t that many alt-rock holiday songs to choose from. Now, though, I’m swamped with brand-new material year after year. Here are some of my favourites for 2022. You’ve been warned.
Songs heard on this show:
- Gary Kaluza & The Figgy Puddings, Xmas Business
- Mother Mother, Cry Christmas
- We Are the Union, Yr Always Alone on Christmas
- Pollyanna, Christmas Garbage
- Vicious Kitty, Mrs. Claus
- The Frostbite Faction, Christmas on Credit
- Foo Fighters, Run Rudolf Run (about the only “normal” song on this list)
- Goodnight Sunrise, Single All the Way
- From Ashes to New, All I Want for Christmas is You (not exactly what you think)
- DWI, Last Minute Fathers
- Joel Jerome, Happy Xmas (Covid is Over)
- Villages, Merry Christmas (from the Downie Dens)
- Henry Rollins, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Naturally, you’ll want a playlist of all this. Eric Wilhite has obliged.
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
- 102.1 The Edge/Toronto – Sunday night at 7
- Live 88-5/Ottawa
- 107.5 Dave-FM/Kitchener
- Power 97/Winnipeg
- Sonic 102.9/Edmonton
- The Zone/Victoria
- The Fox/Vancouver
- Surge 105/Halifax
- WAPS/WKTL The Summit/Arkon, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown
We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor, Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter and I’ll see what I can do.