A Recipe For Holiday Music

Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. The weather outside is, well, frightful. Red and green lights and ornaments hang from almost anywhere, and the constant blasting of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” can be heard from just about everyone’s car radios and local retail stores. Ah yes, it’s Christmas time. The holidays are usually known for their fun times, gift-giving, and loads and loads of food. But most importantly, the painfully repetitive and Disney-ish tone of Holiday Music. That special, festive genre that always puts you in the holiday spirit and the same old tunes that your Aunt sings while putting up the tree.

Now, what makes holiday music, well, holiday music? And of course, there is no simple answer to that. Holiday music ranges from pop hits, like “Last Christmas” by Wham!, to the orchestral masterpiece that is Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”. First, you want a touch of bitterness. That’s right, cheerful holiday tunes do have a bit of minor in them. Sprinkling in a few minor chords in a mostly major song adds to the warm fuzziness of the holidays. To put it simply, a bit of salt in your holiday cookies makes them taste sweeter.

For our next ingredient, you’ll need a stringing melody and nostalgia. Let’s look at “The Nutcracker for an example of a stringing melody. Most of the songs open with a simple but catchy tune before the harp comes in with a shimmering interlude. Then slowly one by one, each instrument comes in to add more and more to the song. Usually, they will be orchestral instruments. As for nostalgia, holiday music is 90% nostalgia. So if a holiday tune can include past times of a broken heart (Cough cough Wham! cough) but at the same time put in some uplifting determination for the future, you’ll at least get into the top 10 holiday songs! And I’m not just talking about reminiscing about the past, I’m talking about nostalgia waves harder than returning to an old N64 game that you played as a kid. 

And last, but not least, sleigh bells. If a holiday song doesn’t have sleigh bells, it has failed as a holiday song. Sleigh bells are the pure essence of the holidays. They really give you that holiday vibe that you can’t get from any other kind of music. For any holiday song, sleigh bells are a must. It doesn’t even have to be a happy holiday song, it needs sleigh bells!


Hey there! My name is Sparsh Aiyar and I'm the editor in chief of The City Voice. I also make videos on our YouTube channel, so please make sure to check that out! I'm a huge music nerd and I play a lot of guitar so if you also like guitar, feel free to reach out. If you have any questions about the City Voice, please feel free to contact me via gmail, I would be more than happy to help!