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 –