Is the classic Christmas hit song a thing of the past?

One festive tradition is that of the Christmas hit song.

It’s a time of year – maybe the only time of the year – when tracks by the likes of Wham!, Slade, Wizzard and Shakin’ Stevens are played over the airwaves.

Whether hearing them on the radio at home or work, or when we’re out shopping on the high street, such famous festive tunes have become as big a part of the traditions in the run up to Christmas that we’d be lost without them.

They’re true classics, but each year I wonder whether there will ever be a new addition to the collection.

It’s 23 years since Chris Rea was Driving home for Christmas, which was also the year in which Cliff Richard was enjoying success with Mistletoe and Wine. The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York has been with us even longer, having been recorded in 1987.

Since then, it’s doubtful that anything other than Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You has made a lasting and worthy contribution to the array of Christmas hits that we all enjoy with, and even that was 17 years ago.

There have been a few failed attempts over the years, and many covers recorded by newer stars in that time, but nothing has truly stuck with us, nor seems likely to.

The way in which the modern music industry works has surely been a factor, with most “success” coming from a reality talent show win which aims to provide instant fame and fortune.

Modern number ones are seldom the product of a great record, but of a Facebook campaign or a TV talent show combined with mass media exposure, and within a week or two, the track is already forgotten about by most.

In 2010, 34 different songs reached top spot. That compares with just 14 in 1984, some of which are still widely heard today.

In today’s over-saturated music world, even if an original Christmas hit song was recorded and had the potential to cement a place amongst the classics of years gone by, the chances are that it wouldn’t get the exposure necessary to remain in people’s minds long enough to see in the New Year, let alone still be getting played on the radio twenty years later.

So while the wait goes on for a modern Christmas classic, we’ll have to be content with singing along to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and co. Considering most of the artists dominating popular music today, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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