What’s you favorite Christmas carol? Is it “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland”? Or perhaps “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” or “O Holy Night”? Or maybe “Love’s Not Just For Christmas”? You may not recognize that last one, but you should: It might just be one of the the happiest Christmas songs.
It all started when forensic musicologist Joe Bennett, a professor at Berklee College of Music, was approached by the owners of a shopping mall who wanted him to help create the ultimate Christmas song to keep their customers in the holiday spirit. Bennett was intrigued, so he took a look at the top 200 songs that were streamed on Spotify during the week of December 25, 2016. Of these songs, 78 were Christmas or holiday-themed and Bennett set out to analyze what made them so popular.
“There is no simple formula for a successful song, and in practice songwriters combine their own experience, musical skills, and personal creative preferences when writing,” Professor Bennett told British news outlet, the Stoke Sentinel. “But we can infer listeners’ favored song characteristics by analyzing the most popular recordings – in this case, Christmas songs.”
So Bennett set to it, studying the most popular songs’ tempo, themes, and musical key. Figuring out whether the lyrics were sung by a man or a woman or was it fully instrumental and how prominently were sleigh bells featured in the songs. He looked at it all as he tried to crack the code as to why Mariah Carey’s "All I Want For Christmas" was the most-streamed Christmas song of 2016, and how Michael Bublé’s music managed to hold ten of the top 200 tracks, according to the Evening Standard.
After analyzing the songs, he found that nearly half of the Christmas songs had sleigh bells (“Usually on the chorus, but also on the verse as well," he told Newsweek), and were in major keys with a 4/4 time. As for the heart of the songs, they usually told stories about love and home, the story of the nativity, parties with dancing and mistletoe, Santa or snow, and peace on earth.
Once Bennett’s analysis was done, he sent his findings to songwriters Harriet Green and Steve Anderson who set out to work. They concocted a toe-tapping tune that is one of the happiest Christmas songs.
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The new carol is titled “Love’s Not Just For Christmas” and it features the word “Christmas” a whopping 21 times. It’s performed in major key with a 4/4 time and yes, those are the sounds of sleigh bells ringing. In short, it may just be one of the happiest Christmas songs ever and will undoubtedly be a winner at the annual Christmas pageant.