The Christmas Spike Phenomenon

Cleo Cummins, Arts Editor

Every year in early November, I unearth my Christmas playlist as a guilty pleasure. My family all calls foul and tells me I can’t play it until after Thanksgiving. I’m not alone though, according to Google Trends, the week after Halloween is the first spike in Christmas music streaming, and it starts to go up even more without fail the week after Thanksgiving. Since 2004, the search “Christmas music” takes a drastic fall to zero on January first. Google search data, 2004-2020, reveal characteristic spikes every December even for quite famous artists who have other hits other than their Christmas songs. It mildly occurs with Kelly Clarkson and her recent hit “Underneath the Tree,” where bumps occurred in December 2016 and 2019 that correspond to her overall search popularity. Mining Google Trends site, I found this startling trend even affects John Lennon for his blockbuster Happy Xmas (War is Over).” The peaks for John Lennon searches correlate with the searches for his Christmas hit. 

The one Christmas hit wonder phenomenon is seen in Wham, which had the highest popularity when the lead singer, George Michaels, died on Christmas in 2016. The song, Last Christmas, continues to drive Wham’s search history, though they are not exactly the same curves. People do search for Wham outside of their Christmas music. Alone of the 20 or so Christmas hits I compared via Google’s tool, Christmas Wrapping, by The Waitresses, utterly copies the searches for the band. 

The cyclical popularity of Christmas music is attributed to the season and the holiday, no doubt. The fact that there’s no other holiday with a universally adopted, commercial soundtrack offers the possibility of having revenue and wealth come in once a year without fail, only if an artist crafts that Christmas hit. Those search hits create wealth, $500,000 yearly for Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You.

Michael Buble famously has the voice of the crooner, much like Frank Sinatra. He defrosts every holiday season to play hits like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” His Google search hits respond evenly. 

This commercial success can be turned to support causes other than commercial shopping. A good example is the fundraising Christmas song, Do They Know it’s Christmas, created by supergroup Bandaid for the famine in Ethiopia and reprised twice for famine relief and once for Ebola funds by different amalgamations of superstars led by Bob Geldorf. 

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