Christmas Songs – Sentiments and Subjectivities

Sheila Whiteley

in Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780748628087
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653065 | DOI:
Christmas Songs – Sentiments and Subjectivities

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This chapter explains how Elvis Presley's cover of the Rev. Phillips Brooks' carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ in his 1957 Christmas Album took the centrality of the Christian message into a secular context by taking the carol into the popular domain. The album also included ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me’. It is evident that songs organised around a romantic discourse can teeter dangerously close to sentimentality which nevertheless comes across as ‘this is what it's all about’. Moving between sentimentality and cynicism, the cultural forms associated with Christmas, not least Christmas songs, provide a particular insight into the problems associated with meaning; they can challenge or maintain existing conventions.

Keywords: sentimentality; Christmas Album; Elvis Presley; Rev. Phillips Brooks; White Christmas; Christian message; cynicism

Chapter.  6659 words. 

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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