Americans want a traditional Christmas even if Hollywood doesn’t

Americans are pining for Christmas. Since peace on Earth sure looks unlikely, maybe we are all looking for some joy to the world.

Only that’s not what traditional Hollywood wants to give us.

But if the Left Coast won’t give us enough Christmas cheer, we’ll get it on our own – starting with music. And there’s a surprising number of holiday tunes doing quite well. Cher, yes, that one, sang her way into a Billboard No. 1 hit with, “DJ Play a Christmas Song.” The 77-year-old performer released her first holiday album, called appropriately “Christmas,” and managed something only the Rolling Stones had ever done. She hit No. 1 seven decades in a row.

Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.

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Cher isn’t alone. The No. 1 song on Billboard this week might sound a bit familiar. It’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” the Brenda Lee song so old it could collect Social Security. It took 65 years to hit No. 1.

In fact, the top of the Billboard list is dominated by old Christmas songs. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is joined by Bobby Helms with the classic “Jingle Bell Rock” and Wham’s “Last Christmas.” Even Burl Ives chimes in at No. 6 with “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” made famous in the 1964 TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” (My personal favorite on this list.)

Every song I just mentioned comes in ahead of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” Heck, even Andy Williams rounds out the Top 10 with “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

NPR credits the Hallmarkization of music to changes Billboard made in how it measures success. “Back in 2018, Billboard reconfigured its chart calculation formula, giving more weight to streams (and especially to streams made on subscription or paid-tier services).”

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Except, there’s more to it than that. What is really going on is that listeners, like watchers of Hallmark’s annual Christmas movie lineup, love Christmas. They want it more than they want Taylor Swift, and that’s a lot. Only there’s not as much Christmas as we want. 

NBC scored well with its “Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” hosted by Kelly Clarkson. The program featured Cher, Seth MacFarlane, Barry Manilow and Katharine McPhee and racked up about 7 million in combined audience.

Because people want more Christmas. But there are no big-ticket Hollywood Christmas movies. Oh, sure, the various streaming services and such are following the Hallmark lead and delivering Christmas, gifts and all. They are all hoping Santa brings them tidings of great joy. And they deserve to have that happen.

Amazon Prime Video probably unwrapped the biggest-name Christmas gift for viewers. “Candy Cane Lane” stars Eddie Murphy in a classic kind of holiday magic movie where he tries to win a decorating contest or be doomed to appear in a Christmas display as a miniature version of himself. Amazon claims the movie is “#1 in the US,” presumably on their outlet. And viewers rate it about 3.5 stars out of five. 

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“The Chosen,” the TV drama about the life of Jesus, pulled together parts of a couple episodes to relaunch what it calls, “Christmas with The Chosen: Holy Night.” The combined effort will appear briefly in theaters and feature a “first-time-ever performance by Andrea Bocelli and his son, Matteo.” Which, you have to admit, is very much keeping in the holiday spirit.

There are a few others. Disney+ has “Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever” and Peacock unveils Melissa McCarthy in the title role of “Genie,” redoing Will Smith who was trying to outdo Robin WIlliams. In the movie, a man tries to win his family back during the Christmas season – only he gets unlimited wishes. 

There’s even an Amazon Prime “Merry Little Batman,” which features the Caped Crusader as a dad fighting alongside his son to save Christmas. If the rest of the show is as good as the 2:26 trailer, Jeff Bezosland might teach DC Comics how to put life into their movies.

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But into every Christmas, a Grinch must come. And since Hollywood doesn’t like the holy part of the holiday, we get some interesting offerings. 

There’s “Silent Night.” A cool shoot-’em-up flick directed by famed action director John Woo. The blood-spattered revenge movie has the hero looking for payback against the men who killed his son. In the trailer, he marks Christmas Eve with the words, “Kill them all” and proceeds to do just that to the chilling (or killing) soundtrack of “Carol of the Bells.”

It’s basically Christmas for the “Grand Theft Auto” crowd.

And, for the next of the Grinchy movies, there’s “It’s a Wonderful Knife.” Nope, not kidding. The slasher take on the Jimmy Stewart classic has the heroine wishing she had never been born. She reappears in the town she saved from the killer, only the killer is still at it. So she has to stop him one more time.

And, if all else fails, there’s “Society of Snow” that comes out on Dec. 22. It’s almost Christmas. It’s got snow. It’s got… cannibalism? Yep, not kidding about that one. It’s about the 16 survivors of a plane crash in the Andes. Christmas with the Donner Party.

If you’ve read this far, you know what most people will choose. They will keep watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music. And the outlets and streaming services that provide what we want will be the ones that benefit.

Christmas with… Adam Smith?

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