Living November and December in the United States means slowly but surely becoming annoying with a handful of Christmas and holiday songs being played endlessly in every public space. If it starts to look like Christmas, then all you can do is grit your teeth and accept that by the 500th game, even “All I Want for Christmas Is You” will start biting your very soul.
But there is another way. At least in your home, car and other places where you have control over the music you listen to (which is everywhere if you have headphones): the largest Christmas music playlist ever conceived. It’s called FaLaLaLa La GREAT GREAT Christmas Variety Shuffle List, and you can find it on Spotify.
It was hosted by “King of Jingaling”, aka Washington State Teacher Brad Ross-MacLeod, aka Owner FaLaLaLaLa.com, provides the best online center for discussing and collecting obscure Christmas music. It also serves as a hub, through its forum, that connects a bunch of other important Christmas music websites, such as Ernie, not Bert i Hip Christmas.
Ross-MacLeod leads his love of holiday music first to the Christmas music albums of Hollyridge Strings and Mike Sammes Singers that his parents played when he was a child. But his interest in the genre as a hobbyist dates back to the late 1990s, when two CDs were released called Christmas cocktails reawakened his interest in old holiday tunes.
“Those two discs really opened my ears to the world of Christmas music hidden from mainstream radio at the time,” Ross-MacLeod told me. “I started buying old vinyl in stores where I lived in central Pennsylvania. … When you have such a strange passion, you really want to connect with others who share it. I couldn’t find anyone anywhere in Pennsylvania, so I opened a website to bring them to me. Forums are still the most active part of the site and we have been working since 2004. “
Ross-MacLeod is one of the favorite names in a small but powerful community of people online who collect any Christmas music they can find; they all tend to be extremely nice people who will be distracted by revealing an album on which Burl Ives sings Christmas carols with spoken introductions about how they were supposedly adored by various presidents.
When I first joined this community in the mid-2000s, everyone involved legitimately kept albums and songs that were essentially gone. Digitization of this music existed in the 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 who the copyright holder was to begin with), they had also stopped gave up the words. much rarer than they were for your average Limewire or Kazaa user. (Long live 2006!)
But the rise of these sites has shown many record labels, both large and boutique, that there is value in a number of Christmas albums that are just gathering dust in their vaults. With the rise of Spotify and other streaming music services, it was easy enough to set up digital versions of those songs where any subscriber could listen.
But that has already made the mountainous amount of holiday music even more mountainous. How could anyone even find what was good in that huge crowd? Many listeners have just checked out the playlists that contain the same handful of songs that your average department store runs into the country, 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 could start mixing songs on the list right now, playing it 24/7, and still have plenty of music left until you go to bed on Christmas.
And these aren’t songs you’ve heard a million times before. There is a rich variety of genres and artists, but the playlist focuses on things that are under the radar. There’s “Little Drummer Boy” imbued with a disc, various tunes from the Seeburg Library (easy to listen to a competitor to the more famous Muzak), and even some of the artist songs you’ve heard of, such as Jackson 5 and Perry Como and Harry Connick Jr.
“I want to hear a bigger selection of Christmas songs than you would hear on most radio stations. I want a mix of the famous and the surprising, ”said Ross-MacLeod. “Christmas is so much about nostalgia, so there must be something of musical comfort food from the past. Even in my narrow field of interest, there is a lot of music that most people do not hear. I’m a musician and I think I have an ear for what’s good or at least interesting. “
Ross-MacLeod doesn’t completely shy away from songs you’ve heard before (Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is here, because how could you not), but there’s a definite turn to music that will be new to you, even from artists who you know well. Yes, the list includes Jackson 5 “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (classic), which you may have heard of, but their interpretations of “Up on the Housetop” or “The Christmas Song” are both great, not so widespread.
“Given the number of songs that are Christmas standards, many songs are repetitive,” he said. “But I’m looking for versions that have something different from them – some instrumentation or an interesting new bridge or even a mixture. Familiar and comfortable, but also surprising and fresh. ”
So, are there any Christmas songs that are under the radar that Ros-MacLeod hopes could become as big as “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? He points to the soundtrack for the 1970 film scrooge (musical adaptation Christmas carol) and several songs by rock musician JD McPherson Christmas album 2018 Socks. But he also says that there is so much great Christmas music that it is really, very difficult to become the standard.
“These songs are played only a few weeks a year, and they have to compete with decades, even centuries, songs that have already become the standard. Since it took Mariah’s tune and ‘Last Christmas’ [by Wham!] some time to really become standards, I think it will be some time before we see another one, ”Ross-MacLeod said. “It simply came to our notice then. It takes a lot of processing to make a song a real Christmas standard. ”
So, if you’re ready for something – anything – different to treat your ears to as Christmas approaches, launch Ross-MacLeod’s huge playlist (or one of his other, smaller playlists) and find some new seasonal favorites. I can’t survive December without it.
FaLaLaLa La GREAT GREAT Christmas Variety Shuffle List is broadcast on Spotify. For more recommendations from the world of culture, see One good thing archives.