Christmas is still three weeks away, but for two Milwaukee radio stations, the holiday is already old hat. Yes, B93.3 and 95.7 BIG FM have been playing nothing but Christmas music since November 5 and 6, respectively. Fans of Christmas music have been rejoicing. Everyone else has been avoiding these stations like they were a couple of those weird Christmas meat-and-cheese boxes.
Still, even ride-or-die Christmas music fans have to admit that hearing the same songs played over and over again can get a little old. So, while we were tuned in this past weekend (we love Christmas music, sue us), we decided to do an experiment. Using both stations’ handy online playlists, we’d count how many times certain modern Christmas standards were played. Ancient stuff like “Jingle Bells” was mostly out, but “new-ish” stuff like that Mariah Carey song was in. Here are the totals (in descending order) for this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee
Total plays: 67
95.7 BIG FM: 36
Okay, this song is pretty old (the original Brenda Lee version was released in 1958), but good grief does it get played to death. The original dominates the B93.3 and 95.7 BIG FM playlists, with a few spins of the LeAnn Rimes and Jessica Simpson versions tossed in for good measure. We could have sworn we heard a Brian Setzer version one day, but maybe that was during the week. Like we said, we love Christmas music. With one exception…
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” – John Lennon/Yoko Ono
Total plays: 47
95.7 BIG FM: 21
Ugh. John Lennon is great. Yoko Ono is great. John and Yoko are great together. But when, exactly, did this turgid, relatively specific song protesting the Vietnam War become a generic Christmas standard? “War is over / If you want it,” goes the refrain. What war in 2020 are we talking about, exactly? Weird. Lennon and Ono’s original is the most-played version, though covers by John Legend and Sarah McLachlan frequently pop up, too.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey
Total plays: 37
95.7 BIG FM: 15
Has Christmas radio eased up on Mariah’s once-inescapable classic? Sure, it still gets plenty of plays, but we swear there was one year when this thing was practically on repeat. (Check out this piece from Christmas 2018 for some hilarious thoughts on the song.) It’s a great tune nonetheless, highlighted by a throwback “Wall of Sound” vibe, a whole lot of sleigh bells, and memories of that time Mariah played it on Jimmy Fallon with a bunch of kids and everyone fell in love with it again.
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Darlene Love
Total plays: 36
95.7 BIG FM: 18
Speaking of a throwback “Wall of Sound” vibe, here’s the real deal! The Phil Spector-produced, Brenda Lee-sung original came out in 1963 and has been endlessly covered—but rarely topped—ever since. (U2 and, yes, Mariah Carey versions get a few spins now and then.) Milwaukee Christmas radio agrees: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is an “18-plays-a-weekend” kind of song.
“Last Christmas” – Wham!
Total plays: 31
95.7 BIG FM: 2 (just the Glee version)
Again, wasn’t it only a few years ago that “Last Christmas” was everywhere? How is it that B93.3 played it a mere 29 times over the course of three days (complete with the Jimmy Eat World and Taylor Swift covers), and 95.7 BIG FM played the lousy Glee version twice and called it a weekend? (Once again, check out this piece from Christmas 2018 for some hilarious thoughts on the song.)
“Blue Christmas” – Elvis Presley
Total plays: 27
95.7 BIG FM: 6
The King ain’t what he used to be, but we still dig this woozy Christmas classic, first recorded by Doye O’Dell in 1948. Happily, that thing where a living artist does a duet with a dead artist isn’t much of thing anymore. Take it away, creepy 2009 video of Martina McBride singing with Elvis!
“Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney
Total plays: 18
95.7 BIG FM: 0
Good on you, 95.7 BIG FM.