Archive | December, 2012

NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, MY YEARS OF CHRISTMAS POP MUSIC HELL

12 Dec

The first record I ever bought was ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ by Slade.  It was February 1974 and the record was finally slipping down the charts.

In those days some newsagents would have a spinning rack of Ex-Jukebox and older chart 7” singles, usually in a plain sleeve, but they were always cheaper than going to a record store.

It was a tough choice, Wizzard ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ was also on offer, but after due consideration, and much spinning I chose to spend my meagre pocket money on Slade, and so began my love/hate relationship with Christmas pop songs.

The race for Christmas number one in the charts has always been eagerly anticipated and to actually get to that pinnacle on the 25th December was the ultimate achievement an artist could attain.  It guaranteed you massive sales and musical immortality.

In the not so distant past, Christmas singles were just that, they were often schmaltzy, usually monotonously catchy but always festive.  The list of artists is endless from Kate Bush, to David Bowie, Chris Rea to the Pretenders and all the way back to Elvis Presley.  A Christmas single release was about the magic of Christmas!

In recent years with the rise of the X-Factor and the anti X-Factor releases, the songs that top the charts tend to be vapid cover songs, or re-released classics.

So this leaves us with a problem, and a problem I have a vast experience of dealing with.  The same songs get played, year after year, after year.

There is no escape from Wham, Band Aid, Mariah Carey and the Pogues, now this might not be too much of a problem if you are just a happy shopper drifting from store to store, filling your bags with gifts and good cheer.  But if you work in retail, this time of the year can be horrendous, and not just because of your increased workload.  No the sound of the same fucking songs spinning round on rotation are enough to drive you to insanity.

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Having owned music and game stores now for twenty years that catered to the Christmas frenzy, we have had no choice but to join in this musical insanity.  A compact disc of “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” would be placed in the machine then played from the middle of November up until the Boxing Day Sale.

How I actually escaped from going totally insane I have no idea, those first bars of Band Aid ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ can actually almost induce a panic attack.  It can bring back the full horror, not only of the same songs endlessly droning out from the speakers, but they become a soundtrack to human nature at it’s very worst.

As the eighties stars are singing about the horrors of famine and whether these poor people on another continent even know if it’s Christmas, the shop would often be filled with agitated and arguing customers  fighting over a limited amount of games consoles or teenagers demanding gift tokens from worn down grandparents.

The sound of Christmas pop music brings me no joy.  I am even getting tired of the Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York’ which I never thought could be possible.

This is my first Christmas since winding down the retail aspect of my business and I am hoping I can actually listen to some Christmas hits without breaking out in hives.  I am starting with Kate Bush 50 Words of Snow, something that has never been played in my retail environment.  I am in Christmas music rehab, I want you all to wish me luck.

So this Christmas my heart goes out to every single one of you working in a store or a public environment listening to Chris Rea singing ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ for the nine thousandth time.  I send you sympathy, love and hope for a world without East 17 and ‘Stay Another Day’.

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