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Holiday Music on Pandora


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Long before the inception of Pandora, I can vividly recall the very first thumbs down that I gave to a song. This was during the Holiday season of the then-new decade. But it also happened to be my first-time butting heads with one of my parents on musical taste.

It was 1980 and my father had just dropped the hi-fi needle on a scratchy 45-rpm copy of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “A Night To Remember.” Even though I was only nine-years-old, I knew before the first chorus that I wasn’t into this song.

“What is this?” I asked. My father replied, “It’s my favorite Christmas song by Engelbert Humperdinck.” I remember suddenly laughing uncontrollably.

“What? What’s so funny?” My dad demanded. “That’s not his real name,” I insisted. Now my father’s face was starting to redden as he retorted, “The man has a terrific voice. He’s English…just like the Beatles!”

But even before my double digits, I knew that I liked the Beatles more than Engelbert Humperdinck. I also had my own favorite Holiday record. Already a vintage vinyl snob, I picked up my 1961 copy of Christmas With The Chipmunks and pleaded with him to put that on instead.





My parents and I still have differing tastes in music, but the cool thing about Holiday stations on Pandora is that they offer plenty of agreeable middle ground for nights in with the family. Take for instance the Christmas station – it’s easy to imagine Dean Martin sipping on eggnog in between saucy verses of “Silver Bells” or Burl Ives doing the voice for Sam The Snowman on “Holly Jolly Christmas” from the 1964 stop-motion animated TV special Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. And every time I hear the Vince Guaraldi Trio play anything from A Charlie Brown Christmas, I want to find the smallest, skinniest, Christmas tree in our neighborhood lot and take it home for a sympathy trimming.




And though my dad might not know many (or any) of the artists peppering our Hipster Holidays station, I’ll bet he’d be into She & Him’s timeless take on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” or Sufjan Stevens plucking the banjo on a slightly countrified rendition of “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.” Speaking of hipsters, have you heard our Hipster Hanukkah station? It’s awesome! Tom Lehrer’s “(I’m Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica” just might have inspired Adam Sandler to see how many things he can rhyme with the word, Hanukkah. And Six13’s “Bohemian Chanukah” gives the Weird Al treatment to a Queen classic.


Traversing into the twangy stuff, one genre that the old man and I can both agree on is classic country. Pandora’s Classic Country Christmas station offers both country and western yuletide carols. My dad used to play Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” in the family wagon and get nostalgic about his own childhood Christmas mornings. And my sister and I used to love watching my mom smile to Faron Young’s “I’m Gonna Tell Santa Claus on You.”


I know my father and I would also be able to agree on Soulful Holidays radio. With smooth gems like Donny and Lalah Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” Jackson 5’s festively funky “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and Whitney Houston’s moving version of “Do You Hear What I Hear;” this is the Pandora station that finds me hitting thumbs up more than any other.


Shoegaze HolidazeShoegaze Holidaze


Dad-approved jams aside, sometimes I need a little me time – especially when getting into the Holiday spirit. And no Pandora playlist does that better for my jaded generation X soul than Shoegaze Holidaze. Sure, I might be a bit too old to find a digital delay pedal under the Christmas tree, but Cocteau Twins make up for that with their gorgeous rendition of “Frosty The Snowman.” And even if I’m not waking up to a snowy-white Christmas, My Bloody Valentine has me covered with “Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside).”

So, whatever music you prefer, we hope you and your families enjoy Pandora’s Holiday music offerings and can find some songs to thumb up together.


-Eric Shea ( @EricPandora)