Since I was a little guy, I’ve loved Christmas music. From “Joy to the World” to “Christmas Canon” to “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” all of it reminds of why I love this time of year. Well, not because someone’s grandma got run over by a reindeer, mine certainly didn’t, but you know what I mean… being with family, creating memories, and of course, the history-altering birth of Jesus.
What really gets my goat this season is the Christmas music I’m hearing on Christian radio. Here’s what happens… I’m driving down the road flipping through the stations. I hear “Joy to the World” which is my all-time favorite Christmas song. So of course I’m going to turn it up and sing along. Verse 1… awesome. Verse 2… awesome. Then as soon as I gracefully begin singing verse 3, I’m cut off by… what’s this? Different lyrics? And the melody doesn’t even sound the same! Now instead of singing about joy to the world, I’m asking “What in the world?”
I understand since American Idol came around, it’s popular to “make it your own.” I get that and for the most part, I like the idea. I still remember hearing Phillip Phillips’ version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was amazing. Or David Cook’s heartfelt rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” Plus, who can forget Adam Lambert singing “Ring of Fire”? I loved all of those. But when it comes to this issue I have with some Christmas songs, well, it’s a genre of music you don’t really need to change. It’s what the American Idol judges would say about a Whitney Houston song. Just sing it well. That’s all.
It’s like these artists took your favorite Christmas sweater, sewed in their initials, and now they’re selling it on Etsy. Or if I were to repackage everyone’s favorite movie “A Christmas Story” with an added scene I shot myself because, well, I wanted to call it my own. Then I sell it on eBay as the “extended version.” The most recent example I’ve heard this season is a song called “Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy).” Let’s not even get into the confusing conflict of a song with lyrics about something that’s unspeakable. That’s not the point. The point is they damaged a perfectly good sweater.
A wise man once said that if a person comes to him with a problem, they should also come with a solution. So I’ll take his advice. The solution to this problem is simple. Sing the songs as they were meant to be sung. Or come up with something original. I know it’s tough to come up with a timeless Christmas song… nearly impossible. But artists should try. Mariah Carey did it with “All I Want For Christmas.” Another instant classic was written by a comedian, “Mary, Did You Know?”
There’s more that can be said about this whole “repackaging” thought, especially in Christian music. But instead of repackaging that conversation, this site hits the bull’s-eye.
-Out of the Wilderness