Oh come, all ye faithful, and lend me your ears. There is something very dark, evil and wrong among us, and I need the Christmas-music-loving world to know about it. And that very wrong thing is Christmas Radio.
To listen to a radio station that plays Christmas tunes from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years Eve, you might recognize a few things. Sorry, I mean to say, you might recognize a few songs. Because they are the same (and only) few songs that get played ad naseum every single year, nonstop for five weeks, as if there wasn’t a Christmas canon full of classic and contemporary renditions of both classic and contemporary, even original Christmas and/or winter-inspired music.
Christmas Music Hurts
To listen to Christmas radio is to know one important truth: Christmas music is terrible. Well, that and the fact that George Michael *never* learns from his mistakes because he keeps giving his heart away to someone who doesn’t turn out to be very special. Every. Single. Year. And despite his promises of this Christmas to give it to someone who won’t just regift it the very next day, sure as anything, you’ll hear him again next year singing the very same lament.
Get a grip George Michael! (Also RIP). Apart from that cloying holiday tune that can’t even differentiate the difference between the purpose of Valentine’s day and the birth of Jesus, you may hear upwards of 20 to 30 other renditions of Christmas songs on constant repeat. That’s it. That’s all. No more.
There Is Good Out There
Here’s the real truth: Christmas has and always will inspire unique, beautiful and inspiring music, ranging the scale from melancholy and pensive to joyful and downright festive. It’s all there, because those are the emotions we feel around this time of year.
So, to help the desperate folks who have a seasonal need to hear something other than a dumb little girl who wants a giant, dangerous jungle animal for Christmas that would literally bite her in half, I am here to let you in on a few great, brave acts of kindness to help diversify the sounds you hear in your holiday-tuned ear, and offer you a pantheon of rich, seasonal music that can—if you let it—make you believe in the goodness of the world again.
Mormon Hipsters. Mipsters.
Something that may not be on everyone’s frontal lobe of consciousness, is that Mormons (whether practicing or cultural or in-betweeners or mislabeled thus by location association, etc) are actually really good at making music. Take Provo, that very Mormon city, in all of its hipster weirdness, and look at its glowing track record of local music making it big—think Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, The Str!ke, then combine that with the scads of LDS music and musicians to come from the shadow of Mt. Timpanogos, and the bench gets pretty deep.
This hub of bizarre, thrift-store Mormonism, if you will, seems to foster an environment for unique takes on Christmas songs as well. Combine that with the fact that this once-conservative stronghold had a mayor who realized that he could capitalize on the oddity of the Mormon hipster movement, and those who worship at the altar of house concerts and second hand clearance racks, and the result is a musical gift that keeps on giving.
Provo’s Gift To The World
This is what I mean: Four years ago, Provo City released their “gift to the world” set—a Christmas album, essentially, that was released initially as a series of videos highlighting local musicians playing in local, iconic P-town locations. And yes, they released one a day for 12 days, because, Christmas. It was a nice boost to the city, and a good excuse to feature the world’s newest delightful Christmas creature: the octopus. Step aside hippopotamus, this Santa-hatted octopus is the greatest thing since you bit that girl who wanted you for Christmas.
To watch these videos is to see where sincerity comes within millimeters of satire for the Hipster stereotypes. But if hipsters only had one thing to be pretentious about, it’s music, and the entire set of song is one that you should definitely listen to as part of your holiday soundtrack.
This year they are releasing volume 4 of these holiday music renditions that feature local talent. That’s a lot of songs! The videos feature the “trying-too-hard” sport we’ve come to love from this quirky cultural pocket in Utah Valley, but the songs are actually quite soulful and wonderful, and I find myself constantly returning to them to set the mood of my holiday musings from day to day.
Seriously, give your radio station the stiff, and try on this XL beanie of beautiful music. Thanks Provo. Keep being you. #KeepProvoAwkward. The rest of us are getting good Christmas tunes out of it.