You walk into any store in a predominantly Christian country, Christmas music will be playing. No one has ever been able to explain why we have the barrage of Christmas music other than people love it and it makes money. As a not very-merry holiday person, it grates on my nerves endlessly. Sadly, this trend is international, since both the Korean and Japanese music industries have holiday hits of their own.
There are classically two types of singles that come out during late November into December for the Japanese and Korean pop industry: the cheesy cutesy Christmas-times one and the deeply snowing ballads. The latter isn’t really all that bad and has existed a genre for many years, long before modern pop. Still, this issue lays in its association with the cheery marshmallow-and-candy-cane-fluff.
I think my big issue is how consumer oriented these song are, no matter where they come from. It’s all about getting your mind back in the holly-jolly game of buying presents. The song typically are meaningless jingles to play in the background as we push out of the way to shop. There are some song played around Christmas that have meaning and depth to them, which I tend to gripe about less because it’s not about superficial issues. Still, more and more Western Christmas songs are becoming about selling a notion of the romantic “perfect-gift” Christmas.
The issue with their Korean and Japanese counterparts (specifically the Japanese pop songs in this case) is that they are still about romantic love, like the majority of the singles . Christmas is very much a holiday for friends and lovers while New Years is for family, the opposite of Western culture. The songs may not be geared to make people buy presents, but they are designed to sell CDs, since very few of these songs stay around long enough to become classics the way they do in the West. Asian singers don’t do covers of great Christmas carols a la Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey. They make up their own songs and hope they are catchy enough to catch the attention of potential fans.
The song are so generic, you could really sell them anytime of the year. All they do is maybe throw in the words “Santa” or “Christmas,” put some snow and presents in the video, and voila! The release mediocre love song is now a Christmas love song. It’s like when people say Die Hard is a Christmas movie — it’s a movie that takes place during Christmas but it’s not really about the holiday itself.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or listen to Christmas music. Far from it — go do whatever makes you happy this is month of cold and joviality. My point is that in J-Pop and K-Pop, mediocre songs get packaged up in big red bows and shipped out like some new, interesting product, when really it’s the stuff we listen to all year round in a different skin. It’s boring, it’s drab, and it’s ultimately lacking in quality, at least in video, since the fact that it’s made for Christmas and they don’t have to try too hard. This month I will eventually have to review one of these singles, and it’s my sad duty to shift through the dreck to find one I can re-watch over and over without losing my sanity. Joy to the world.