Living in November and December in America slowly but surely means getting fed up with the small handful of Christmas and holiday carols being played endlessly in every public space. If this is starting to look a lot like Christmas, then all you can do is bite the bullet and accept that by part 500, even âAll I want for Christmas is youâ will start. eat away at your soul.
But there is another way. At least in your home, car, and other spaces where you have control over the music you listen to (which is everywhere if you have headphones): the best Christmas music playlist ever. It’s called FaLaLaLaLa GREAT BIG Christmas Variety Shuffle List, and you can find it on Spotify.
It is hosted by “The King of Jingaling” aka Brad Ross-MacLeod, Washington State Teacher, aka the Owner of FaLaLaLaLa.com, by far the best online center for Christmas music chat and collection obscure. It also serves as a hub, through its forum, which connects a bunch of other essential Christmas music websites, like Ernie, Not Bert, and Hip Christmas.
Ross-MacLeod traces his love of holiday music first to the Christmas music albums of the Hollyridge Strings and Mike Sammes Singers that his parents played as a child. But his interest in the genre as an amateur dates back to the late 1990s, when the release of two CDs named Christmas cocktails rekindled his interest in old holiday tunes.
âThose two records really opened my ears to the hidden Christmas music world of mainstream radio at that time,â Ross-MacLeod told me. âI started going to the thrift stores where I lived in central Pennsylvania looking for old vinyl records. … When you have a weird passion like this, you really want to connect with others who share it. I couldn’t find anyone anywhere in Pennsylvania, so I created a website to bring them to me. Forums are still the most active part of the site and we have been going there since 2004.
Ross-MacLeod is one of the go-to names in the small but powerful online community of people who collect all the Christmas music they can find; they all tend to be extremely nice people who will be crazy to discover an album of Burl Ives singing Christmas carols with oral intros about how they would have been worshiped by various presidents.
When I first delved into this community in the mid-2000s, everyone involved was legitimately preserving albums and songs that had all but disappeared. The digitization of this music existed in a legal gray area: it technically infringed copyright, but since the albums were no longer commercially available (and since many of them had unclear situations as to what find out who originally owned the copyright), cease and desist letters were much rarer than they were for your average Limewire or Kazaa user. (Long live 2006!)
But the rise of these sites has proven to many labels, both majors and boutiques, that there is value in the many Christmas albums that are collecting dust in their coffers. With the rise of Spotify and other music streaming services, it was quite easy to place digital versions of these songs any subscriber could listen to.
But that made an already mountainous amount of holiday music even more mountainous. How could anyone find what was good in this huge pile? Many listeners only viewed playlists that had the same handful of songs your average department store performs in the ground, further increasing the ubiquity of those songs.
Enter Ross-MacLeod and his playlist. With just under 4,000 songs and just under eight days of music, you can start shuffling the songs on the playlist right now, playing them 24/7, and you still have plenty of music left. music when you go to bed on Christmas day.
And these aren’t songs you’ve heard a million times before. There is a rich diversity of genres and performers, but the playlist focuses on things that go unnoticed. There’s a disco-infused “Little Drummer Boy”, a variety of tracks from the Seeburg Library (an easy-to-listen competitor to the more famous Muzak), and even songs from artists you’ve heard of, like the Jackson 5s. and Perry Como and Harry Connick Jr.
âI want to hear a wider variety of Christmas carols than on most radio stations. I want a mix of the familiar and the surprising, âsaid Ross-MacLeod. âMuch of Christmas is all about nostalgia, so there has to be some musical comfort food from the past. Even in my narrow area of ââinterest, there is a lot of music that most people don’t hear. I am a musician and I think I have an ear for what is good or at least interesting.
Ross-MacLeod doesn’t completely avoid songs you’ve heard before (Mariah’s âAll I Want for Christmas Is Youâ is here, because how could you not be), but there is a definite tendency to towards music that will be new to you, even artists you know well. Yes, the list contains the Jackson 5 “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (a classic), which you might have heard before, but their versions of “Up on the Housetop” or “The Christmas Song”, which are all two excellent. , are not as widely played.
âConsidering the number of songs that are Christmas standards, a lot of songs are repeated,â he said. âBut I’m looking for versions that have something different – instrumentation or an interesting new bridge or even a medley. Familiar and comfortable, but also surprising and fresh.
So are there any secret Christmas carols Ross-MacLeod hopes he can get as big as âAll I Want for Christmas Is Youâ? It designates the soundtrack of the 1970 film Scrooge (a musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol) and several tracks from rock musician JD McPherson’s 2018 Christmas album Socks. But he also says that there is so much great Christmas music that it’s really, really hard to become a standard.
âThese songs are only played a few weeks a year, and they have to compete with decades, if not centuries, of songs that have already become standards. Since it took the air from Mariah and ‘Last Christmas’ [by Wham!] a while to really become standards, I think it will be a while before we see another one, âsaid Ross-MacLeod. âIt probably won’t be something so recent. It takes a lot of covers to turn a song into a real Christmas standard.
So if you’re up for something – anything – different to feast your ears on as Christmas approaches, fire up Ross-MacLeod’s Giant Playlist (or some of his other smaller playlists). and find new seasonal favorites. I can’t go through December without it.
FaLaLaLaLa BIG BIG random Christmas variety list is streaming on Spotify. For more recommendations from the world of culture, check out the A good thing archives.