Some tinsel time tunes from us and for you on this festive podcast round-up! ‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, so we’ve found episodes breaking down classics, sharing playlists of lesser-known holiday songs, and holiday music facts.
No holiday music round-up would be complete without mentioning Mariah Carey, and there’s an episode all about “All I Want for Christmas is You.” We selected an episode featuring Idina Menzel on collaborating with Ariana Grande for what she describes as a feminist holiday duet. And learn how Wham’s classic, “Last Christmas,” contains operatic elements.
If you’re a holiday music fan, or feel like learning more about tunes, check out our list:
Switched on Pop
In 1984, Wham! released “Last Christmas,” and this episode of Vulture’s “Switched on Pop” analyzes why people are still listening to George Michael’s auteur track. He seemingly took a cue from Prince and played everything himself — synths, drum machines, etc! Guest Chilly Gonzales appears on this episode. He is a Grammy-winning pianist who recorded the holiday album, A Very Chilly Christmas. When selecting songs to cover, Chilly mostly opted for ones written before the 1960s, but could not resist “Last Christmas” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Chilly broke down the sections of “Last Christmas,” got into some theory, and explained how it’s structured like an opera by breaking down bits on the piano. And you’ll learn a bunch of opera terminology.
Christmas queen Mariah Carey released “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in 1994. Although it did not chart on the year of its release, it eventually became the first Christmas song to hit Billboard’s Hot 100 since “The Chipmunk Song” in 1958. This episode of Slate’s podcast unpacks this classic and tries to reason why holiday hits from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s did not reach the Hot 100 list. Why didn’t “Last Christmas,” “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” or “Feliz Navidad” have as great of a reach as “All I Want for Christmas is You?” Carey’s super-smash began charting in the 2010s, and why does it become more and more popular each year? Host Chris Molanphy analyzes these questions and more in this episode.
“Sound Opinions” is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. Guest, talent booker, and music collector Andy Cirzan shared his obscure holiday mixtape with songs you might never have heard before. This episode has more music than talking, since they briefly discuss the tracks and artists, and then let the songs do the work.
Tinsel Tunes Podcast – A Christmas Music Podcast
“Tinsel Tunes Podcast – A Christmas Music Podcast” has over 35 episodes filled with holiday cheer! Hosts will explore holiday song trivia, unpack classics and modern Christmas hits, and share round-ups of favorite holiday songs by genre. Recent episodes shared favorite country Christmas songs, the history behind one of the oldest holiday songs, “The Friendly Beasts,” and reimaginings of songs from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. Episodes are under 45 minutes long.
It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders was joined by Maroon 5’s PJ Morton on this episode of NPR’s “It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders.” In 2019, PJ released Christmas With PJ, and explained modernized holiday classics for the album including a reggae version of “Winter Wonderland” and not competing with Mariah on his “All I Want for Christmas Is You” cover. PJ told Sam all about the influence his father had on him growing up since he was a preacher and legendary gospel singer. He also shared about life on the road and playing card tournaments on the tour bus.
Pop Shop Podcast
Billboard’s “Pop Shop Podcast” is hosted by senior director of Billboard charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard west coast executive digital director, Katie Atkinson. The series has a few holiday-themed episodes, and on this one, Idina Menzel had a lot to share. She discussed Frozen, its sequel, and her holiday album, Season of Love. Idina dished on what it was like to duet with Ariana Grande and create what she calls a feminist holiday song.
Slate’s “Hit Parade” is a podcast about pop chart history, and this episode is “The Christmas is All Around Edition.” Host Chris Molanphy explores holiday charters in the UK and explained how Brits make a sport of what songs are going to chart and place wagers. It even becomes a topic of British talk shows where song contenders are analyzed like fantasy football players. Chris looks into patterns of songs that do well during the holiday season besides Christmas standards, like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”