A Small City In Utah Has Been Calling On Its Local Hipster Musicians To Give Christmas Music A New Sound
Oh come, all ye faithful, and lend me your ears. There is something very dark, evil and wrong among us, and I need the Christmas-music-loving world to know about it. And that very wrong thing is Christmas Radio.
To listen to a radio station that plays Christmas tunes from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, you might recognize a few things. Sorry, I mean to say, you might recognize a few songs. Because they are the same (and only) few songs that get played ad nauseam every single year, nonstop for five weeks as if there wasn’t a Christmas canon full of classic and contemporary renditions of both classic and contemporary, even original Christmas and/or winter-inspired music.
CHRISTMAS MUSIC HURTS
To listen to Christmas radio is to know one important truth: Christmas music is terrible. Well, that and the fact that George Michael *never* learns from his mistakes because he keeps giving his heart away to someone who doesn’t turn out to be very special. Every. Single. Year. And despite his promises of this Christmas to give it to someone who won’t just regift it the very next day, sure as anything, you’ll hear him again next year singing the very same lament.
Get a grip, George Michael! (Also RIP). Apart from that cloying holiday tune that can’t even differentiate the difference between the purpose of Valentine’s day and the birth of Jesus, you may hear upwards of 20 to 30 other renditions of Christmas songs on constant repeat. That’s it. That’s all. No more.
THERE IS GOOD OUT THERE
Here’s the real truth: Christmas has and always will inspire unique, beautiful and inspiring music, ranging the scale from melancholy and pensive to joyful and downright festive. It’s all there because those are the emotions we feel around this time of year.
So, to help the desperate folks who have a seasonal need to hear something other than an obnoxious little girl who wants a giant, dangerous jungle animal for Christmas that would literally bite her in half, I am here to let you in on a few great, brave acts of kindness to help diversify the sounds you hear in your holiday-tuned ear, and offer you a pantheon of rich, seasonal music that can — if you let it — make you believe in the goodness of the world again.
MORMON HIPSTERS. MIPSTERS?
Something that may not be on everyone’s frontal lobe of consciousness, is that Mormons (whether practicing or cultural or in-betweeners or mislabeled thus by location association, etc) are often very musical. Take Provo, that very Mormon city, in all of its hipster weirdness, and look at its glowing track record of local music that made it big — think Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, even The Str!ke—then combine that with the outsized local music scene thriving in the shadow of Mt. Timpanogos, and the bench gets pretty deep.
This hub of bizarre, thrift-store Mormonism, if you will, seems to foster an environment for unique takes on Christmas songs as well. Combine that with the fact that this once-conservative stronghold had a mayor who realized that he could capitalize on the oddity of the Mormon hipster movement, and those who worship at the altar of house concerts and second-hand clearance racks, and the result is a musical gift that keeps on giving.
PROVO’S GIFT TO THE WORLD
This is what I mean: Five years ago, Provo City released its “Gift to the World” set — a Christmas album, essentially, that was released initially as a series of videos highlighting local musicians playing in iconic Provo locations like trendy cafe’s, soda fountains, and performance venues. And yes, they released one a day for 12 days, because, Christmas. It was a nice boost to the city, and a good excuse to feature the world’s newest delightful Christmas creature: a festive cephalopod. Step aside hippopotamus, this Santa-hatted octopus is the greatest thing since you bit that girl who wanted you for Christmas.
To watch these videos is to see where sincerity comes within millimeters of satire for the Hipster stereotypes. But if hipsters only had one thing to be unironically pretentious about, it’s music, and the entire set of songs is one that you should definitely listen to as part of your holiday soundtrack.
Seriously, give your radio station the stiff, and try on this extra-large knitted beanie of beautiful music. Thanks, Provo. Keep being you. The rest of us are getting good Holiday tunes out of it.
A version of this article was originally published in This Week in Mormons. It has been updated and republished here with permission.