Watch CBS News

Good Question: Why Are New Christmas Songs So Rare?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's the most wonderful time of the year. We know this, because we hear those song lyrics over and over and over. Why is it so hard for new Christmas songs to become a huge hit?

According to ASCAP, "Sleigh Ride" is the most played Christmas song and that was first recorded 62 years ago. "Winter Wonderland" is number two and its 77-years-old. Even that new song, "Jingle Bell Rock," was first performed 54 years ago.

"People love the familiar and the things that move them, and I think there's nothing wrong with that," said Keri Noble, a Twin Cities singer/songwriter who just released a CD called "More than Santa."

Her new CD has 11 tracks, all new songs. She said that she could have just recorded covers of other classic songs, but she felt like if she couldn't bring something new to the table, "It would be boring."

Christmas music is big business. In 2010, "Frosty the Snowman" was played more than 88,000 times on radio stations around the country. That's a lot of money in residuals for the artists who perform these songs.

"You can be making money every year forever. For artists, that's an important thing too," said Noble.

But it's tough to break through into the small group of hugely popular songs. John Lennon did it in 1971, Wham in 1984. But the latest to do it was Mariah Carey with the song, "All I Want For Christmas Is You."

That song was originally recorded 17 years ago.

"I think it's a time they want the familiar it brings back memories, the familiar. It's hard for people to invite new traditions into what they've already set up as their experience," said Noble.

There are periodic new songs and, according to Noble, there's a real interest in having new Christian songs (which makes sense) and country Christmas songs.

She's hoping her song "Givin' You My Love" could break through, "I'd like to see Tim and Faith sing that one," she said, "I'm gonna push that song to be the next country Christmas song."

The reality is that – Christmas is about tradition. And music tends to bring people back to a nostalgic time. Which doesn't create a lot of room for the next great Christmas classic.

"I mean what other holiday has its own soundtrack, which Christmas does," asked Noble.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.