If you’ve seen my Christmas posts on IVM the past few years then you probably think I’m big fan of Christmas music. And might just be right. It seems like the genre has been growing on me more each year. But it hasn’t always been that way for me. There was defiantly a time during my teens and college years where I found Christmas music annoying at best. So what changed? That’s a question I found myself asking this week and I came up with a few thoughts.
The turning point for me was hearing Falling Up‘s Christmas album Silver City. I just enjoyed it. And not because I was a Falling Up fan either (that didn’t happen until their self-titled in 2015). What Silver Cities did is allow me to hear old songs for the first time again. Which brings me the first reason I find myself liking Christmas music again: I’ve found new versions of classic Christmas songs that let me listen with new ears. One of the things I look for every year while creating my Christmas playlists for IVM are songs that take a well worn Christmas carol and reshape it into something new. Sometimes that’s as simple as turning it into a metal song like August Burns Red seem to do every year. Other times changing the lyrics like Kings Kaleidoscope did when they turned “Auld Lang Syne” into “All Glory Be To Christ”. It’s was really discovering new takes on old Christmas songs like these that got me started down a path to liking Christmas music again.
Another thing that really helped me to start enjoying Christmas music was finding original Christmas songs. For all the positive things I wrote above about reimagining Christmas carols, nearly every band does that and only a few of them do it in a way that feels unique. This is where original Christmas songs have helped me to like Christmas music again. And for what it’s worth, writing for IVM the past few years have really helped expose me to a lot of original Christmas songs that I likely wouldn’t have heard otherwise. For example the Christmas Magic EP by Mike Mains. I came across it not long after I started writing for IVM. It’s the original songs on the EP like the title-track and “Happy Holidays, My Dear” that helped set the EP apart from the other Christmas releases that year and made it one that I continue to come back to.
Lastly, something that I’ve really grown to appreciate in just the last couple of years is the history behind many of the well known (and lesser known too!) Christmas songs. A good example would be “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” which caught my attention last year after hearing Mosquito Fleet‘s version of the song. Just learning a little bit about the song’s author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and what was going on to make him write the song brings a lot of meaning to it. Another song I heard last year that made me want to learn more about it’s origin was “Gaudete” covered by Leah. It’s just kind of crazy to think about how this song was written and sung neary 500 years ago. I think learning about the history behind old songs like these has really helped me enjoy them a lot more.
So there you have it, a few of the reasons I’ve found myself liking Christmas again in the last few years. And to be fair, I think some of it could just be chalked to up to just getting older. And I also don’t think the invention of music streaming services can be discredited either. No doubt they’ve played a huge role helping me hear Christmas songs that I never would have heard on my local radio station. Regardless of how you feel about Christmas music though, I just want to wish you and all our readers at IVM a merry Christmas this year!