What do Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Susan Boyle and the cast of the TV series Glee have in common? Very little, really – aside from the fact that they have all released a christmas album in the past year.
They are but a handful of the dozens of artists who are cashing in on christmas cheer. A market which at one time seemed cornered, is now wide open to anyone who can string the words “Santa” and “Claus” together.
The deluge of holiday music often comes in November and December (some even in October).
The past few years, however, have witnessed more pop artists jumping on the bandwagon of christmas music. Whichever albums dominate the holiday season, insiders hope that they will deliver a Xmas miracle to the ailing music industry.
First, we should establish one thing: christmas albums are big business, even when they’re not by Bieber or Carey. Consider that one of 2009’s top five albums was a holiday record (Andrea Bocelli’s My christmas), and, according to Billboard magazine, Josh Groban’s Noel was the top-selling record of 2007.
“christmas albums are a guaranteed seller every year, going back to Elvis,” Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard, told The New York Times. “And it does seem like we’re seeing more of them because some recent christmas albums, such as Bieber’s, have made such a show in the marketplace.”
Seasonal CDs, as more serious artists like to refer to them, require very little original material and the songs are instantly familiar.
For example, in Bieber’s christmas album Under the Mistletoe, six out of 11 songs are holiday classics such as The christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and Silent Night.
Age doesn’t seem to be much of an issue either, since singers of different genres, who appeal to different demographics, all sing the same christmas tunes–in different ways.
“More singers, especially young ones, take a lot of liberties with traditional holiday music, and infuse lots of their personalities into the classic songs,” Caulfield said.
He added that while traditional singers such as Boyle like to keep it classic, teenager idols like Bieber and the Glee cast are more likely to put R&B and dance rhythms to these old songs.
“The mix of traditional christmas songs with new arrangements keeps the songs feeling fresh and diverse,” Caulfield said.
“They are so catchy and joyous that they could become a new standard.”“