The Musical Underbelly of Christmas

Freya Jarman-Ivens

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:
The Musical Underbelly of Christmas

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This chapter observes that rival songs and bands enact a battle for the coveted title of This Year's Christmas Number One — champion of Christmas Present — and in doing so also presumably hope to be included on the commercially available soundtracks to Christmases Future. It also reports, while perennial favourites sing of friendship, love, peace, and happiness, hidden amongst these banal vehicles of propaganda are occasional gems that confront, both lyrically and musically, the dominant Christmas values. Furthermore, the relations between musical signifiers and some of the ‘alternative’ versions of Christmas that occupy positions on the outskirts of the festivities are examined. Two versions ‘Blue Christmas’ are then evaluated. By achieving a Christmas Number One and partly because it is so un-Christmassy a song, ‘Mad World’ may even have heralded the end of a golden age of Christmas pop.

Keywords: propaganda; Christmas values; friendship; love; peace; happiness; musical signifiers

Chapter.  8419 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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