The long, largely unsuccessful quest for new holiday classics
It's Christmas time, and there's every need to be afraid. For the coming weeks will see the re-emergence of that most potentially disastrous of musical forms: the Christmas pop song.
Every year, scores of artists try to pen the next festive favorite. But the results are more often turkeys than crackers: Cyndi Lauper's "Christmas Conga"… John Denver's "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)"… Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime"… The list goes on.
And it's getting worse. Over the past 20 years, perhaps only Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" has joined the pantheon of "classic" Christmas songs. And let's be honest: Most of us probably wish that it hadn't.
David Smyth, chief pop and rock critic at the London Evening Standard (which I write for), believes that the creation of new Christmas music has become something of a dying art.
"I don't think it's something that people feel too passionately about anymore," he says. "It can be a cynical stopgap for people with an established fanbase and a way of keeping them in the public eye. Justin Bieber's just done one this year, for instance.
"There's a canon of about 20 to 30 Christmas songs that get wheeled out every year; it's the Christmas equivalent of when Easter eggs start appearing in the shops before Easter. In the UK, it's Slade's 'Merry Xmas Everybody' and Elton John's 'Step Into Christmas.' Then you have the real classics, like 'Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!' It's very difficult for new songs to become an established part of that canon."