Dec 20

The Christmas We Get We Deserve

FT5 comments • 640 views

It was sometime this Summer that I decided to do a Christmas poll in December, which later expanded to include other Winter festivals.

I didn’t think the idea through because it was a long way off – and I also felt there was a real chance I wouldn’t run it:

  • Everyone would be sick of the polls by then.
  • My business would have collapsed thanks to Covid and I’d be desperately looking for work.
  • Trump would have won the US election and everyone would feel too miserable.

None of these things have happened, so I had to think about how the Christmas event would work.

In doing so I realised there was a possible fourth reason.

  • A Christmas poll wouldn’t, in fact, work.

There are two big problems with a Christmas song tournament, even before you get to the fact that a lot of people really hate Christmas music,

The first is that it feels like almost every act has at some point recorded at least one Christmas song. It’s a fun songwriting challenge! (Maybe). It also might make you some money! (More doubtful). This means the scope for obscurities is truly vast, which in turn means quality control might be a problem.

The second is that the stuff that is popular is some of the most over-familiar music on Earth, and I’d be asking people to think about it right at the point at which it’s almost inescapable anyway.

So a tournament which unfolded like the year polls – with a broad mix of novel and familiar songs gradually tapering to the familiar – wouldn’t be as fun. Too much weird stuff early on, too much boring familiarity at the end.

What I decided to do is make the split (which happens in the year polls anyway) between more obscure and more familiar a formal reality. Instead of letting them gradually converge, I’d run two separate polls in parallel – one which would centre on the Christmas canon, and one which would be a lucky dip of the small, the forgotten, the weird and the tenuous.

THE TREE – Richly decorated and on public display, with the well known songs.

THE STOCKING – A rummage in a sack of cheerful novelties and surprises.

While the early rounds will see some all-Tree and all-Stocking days, by the time we get near the end the two events will be finishing together, balancing the familiar and the far-out. Two winners – one the People’s Pop Christmas favourite, and the other a hopefully enticing alternative discovery.

So that’s what I’m doing. Both the polls are small, and the whole thing runs from the 7th to the 24th, with a pause somewhere in the middle to do some nominations for the 2020 poll (which has its own set of planning issues!)

(For those of you deep into poll minutiae, only the four semi finalists in each tournament will make it into Pollhalla)

As usual, I’m going to post day-by-day playlists on the Patreon with some kind of preview-ish content. And we are doing a small fundraiser alongside it.

The main playlists are here –




  1. 1
    justfanoe on 4 Dec 2020 #

    Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the nominations for this and especially in the Tree bracket which I expected to be populated by boring old staples but actually has tons of interesting and new to me stuff in it.

  2. 2
    Phil on 5 Dec 2020 #

    Am I the only person reading this who never got (into) Spotify?

    Pardon me while I go into Abe Simpson mode…

    I remember it coming along around the time Napster disappeared, when they were starting to catch up with Limewire (and doubtless other torrenting* Napster-alikes).

    At the time I formed the impression that Spotify**, like Limewire, did something kind of torrent*-ish with subscribers’ music libraries, but that it dodged the copyright bullet by piecing together playlists out of the songs people were actually playing at that time, which was copyright-exempt for much the same reason that listening to your neighbour’s music through the wall is. This to my mind also explained why Spotify** didn’t ever seem to offer the specific individual track you actually wanted, but only a playlist of stuff in that general area.

    I have no idea if this was correct, or indeed where I got the idea from (and see footnote**). But I thought it sounded invasive and borderline spooky, and I didn’t want it on my computer. Also it takes the destruction of the album and the reduction of all music to the condition of radio to new levels, so there’s that as well.

    *Do Napster/Limewire/etc come under the heading of torrenting, or were they something similar and earlier (and probably a lot slower)?
    **If indeed it is my impressions of Spotify that I’m vaguely remembering; I may have had these impressions of something else entirely.

  3. 3
    will on 6 Dec 2020 #

    No you’re not. I haven’t got Spotify either. I don’t have a smartphone and whilst I’ve got a library of downloads on my laptop most of my music listening is done via CD or vinyl.

    I am 51.

  4. 4
    knaboscot on 7 Dec 2020 #

    where can I write-in Thanks for Christmas???

  5. 5
    here on 29 Mar 2021 #

    The word Christmas reminds me of one unpleasant situation. On this holiday I always make presents to my friends and family, but this time I almost broke the tradition, because I lost my job. But I was not discouraged and started looking for a resume help near me and found here , they are the best of their kind

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