What Makes a Christmas Song?

Stone Smith, Pawprint Staff Reporter

We all know the classic Christmas songs such as “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” but in recent years, new songs have been made that are debated whether or not they are Christmas songs or not. So now it is time to ask ourselves; What makes a Christmas song a Christmas song?

Many songs have been made that aren’t necessarily Christmas-themed throughout the years, but we’ve accepted them in our hearts as Holiday music; take, for example, “Last Christmas” by WHAM. No mention of Santa, reindeer, or snow. Most of the song takes place on December 26 and is a tale of heartbreak, yet we find ourselves humming along as we stroll through the mall, feeling the Christmas magic take over. The song was released on an album titled “Music from the Edge of Heaven,” which wasn’t a Christmas album. The album was released July 1, 1986. So, just because George Michael mentions Christmas, does this automatically make it a Holiday song?

Sometimes, traditional Christmas music is released on a Christmas soundtrack. “The Trouble With Love is” was released as the first track on the “Love Actually” soundtrack in 2003. No mention of any holiday activity, event, or item, not even winter, yet if you ask anybody who has the movie whether or not this is a Christmas song would most likely tell you that it is. The song was written for Kelly Clarkson’s debut studio album, released April 15, 2003. Just because this song plays in the background as we watch a Christmas office party on some old movie, does that make it a Christmas song?

Now looking way back to Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major,” the circumstances of the composition are unknown. But it has been suggested that it was initially intended to be a wedding song. The song has been covered and recovered throughout the years as recital pieces and funeral marches, but in 1998 the Trans-Siberian Orchestra reinvented it to a Christmas song. They added lyrics and repeated “Merry Christmas” several times. In fact, the entirety of the lyrics are all linked specifically to Christmas Night. But even if you hear the original Pachelbel’s Canon sans lyrics, you still get the Christmas feeling, so does that make Canon in D Major a Holiday Song?

From what I’ve gathered, people will have differing opinions on non-traditional holiday music. It could be the lyrics, the time it was released, or it could be what movie scene we were watching while that song played in the background. For me personally, I think Christmas music can be anything that makes me feel nostalgic for the Holiday season.