Jingle Bell Pop

4 out of 5 stars (231 ratings)

Regular price: $5.95

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About This Audible Original

It seems like every year, the holiday season arrives earlier and earlier. Before Halloween’s ghosts and ghouls have even had their chance to come out of the shadows, sleigh bells and ribbons begin to materialize at the mall and towering tinsel-tinged trees appear in our living rooms. But the most telltale sign of the arrival of yuletide festivities is the unceasingly merry melody of the seasonal songbook, from "Silent Night" to "Santa Baby." Love them or loathe them, these holiday earworms are here to stay. But how do these songs endure for decades? And why are there so few contemporary Christmas carols?

In this holly jolly Audible Original, New York Times bestselling author and New Yorker columnist John Seabrook uncovers the mysteries of the holiday music machine, exploring how these hits were made and why they’ve dominated the soundwaves each and every winter. From the mid-century reign of songwriter Johnny Marks ("Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer") to the manufactured musical nostalgia of modern holiday hits like "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Seabrook, alongside a cast of singers, songwriters, and producers, reveals the untold stories behind the songs that have us rockin’ around the Christmas tree year after year.

©2018 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2018 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Jingle Bell Pop

Beyond the big bowl of Christmas words
Sleigh bells, celestes, and triangles
What makes a great Christmas song?

  • Jingle Bell Pop
  • Beyond the big bowl of Christmas words
  • Jingle Bell Pop
  • Sleigh bells, celestes, and triangles
  • Jingle Bell Pop
  • What makes a great Christmas song?
John Seabrook

About the Author

John Seabrook is the author of The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, published by Norton in October 2015. He is also the author of Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing—The Marketing of Culture, which was published in 2000, Deeper: My Two-Year Odyssey in Cyberspace, which was published in 1997, and Flash of Genius and Other True Stories of Invention, published in 2008. He has been a contributor to The New Yorker since 1989 and became a staff writer in 1993. He explores the intersection between creativity and commerce in the fields of technology, design, and music. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children and a dog and a cat.

John Seabrook

About the Performer

Erin Moon is an AEA/CAEA/SAG-AFTRA actor and multiple AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator of more than 200 novels. She narrates everything from children’s books to romance and is celebrated for her facility with accents. Erin has also narrated nonfiction for world-renowned yoga and holistic health authors. She now lives, records, and teaches narration in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. She can be found on Instagram and Facebook: @mooneybooks.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Tis the season

A deconstruction of popular Christmas music throughout modern history. Especially to answer the question: how can a song escape the death formula 'sentiment + cliche + nostalgia = schmaltz' to achieve cultural, and financial, success?

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Kingsley
  • Henely Brook, Australia
  • 12-07-18

Making of a Christmas Hit

What makes a Christmas or Holiday song? Why do so many song writers attempt it? Part history, part musical analysis, that is what that audio production tries to answer.

'Jingle Bell Pop' focuses on the 'Christmas Canon', the most popular Christmas and holiday songs that we hear over and over again every year. It looks at the history of them, who created them and why they have stuck around.

There is discussion on how the 'canon' is effectively closed, with no holiday songs with sticking power having been created for a few decades. It discussed how Christmas songs/albums were once in vogue, then fell out and became the thing for artists well past their prime, and it's eventual return to being a 'must have' in many artists catalog.

It looks at the different types of songs such as traditional carols with Christian themes, holiday songs with no Christmas references (just winter/snowy imagery type stuff), WW2 era songs with their dour approach, right up to 'modern' classics.

It discusses the styles (the use of sleigh bells, janglely pianos etc; how often even the newer songs use elements to sound like older songs and invoke nostalgia) and writers (a surprising number are Jewish - mostly writing 'holiday' songs rather than 'Christmas' songs) and much more.

One of the most interesting, yet obvious in hindsight, things in this is the discussion on how writing a Christmas song that comes back every year can truly make an artist rich. You write a #1 pop song, and it sits in the chart for a dozen weeks and you make some quick cash. You make a Christmas song that sticks (either an original or a version that people will play again and again), and it comes back for six weeks every year for the next 50 years. Paying royalties to the artist or their estate for long into the future. A good Christmas/holiday song is a golden ticket.

Erin Moon is good as a main narrator. Clear, well paced and engaging. There is lots of interview snippets throughout, with music experts and historians, but Moon is the vast majority of the audio.

For a audio product about music there is not a huge amount in here. There is snippets of songs every now and again (for example 10 seconds of 'Santa Baby' during the discussion of that song's history) and there is some light instrumental music in the background, but generally the use of music within his is fairly well constrained. It's not over bearing or over used. There are dozens (hundreds) of songs mentioned in passing that no musical reference is made. If you know the song then you know it, if not you move on. There is no way they could have done a musical reference for every song mentioned. It would have been too much. A very good balance between reminding giving the listened a taste and overwhelming the listener is struck.

If you are interested at all in the pop culture history this is an extremely interesting audio documentary and worth listening to.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating!

Spot on! I think its rare to find or create a new Christmas song that will ever out shine the ones we've come to know and love.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Festive

Enjoyable quick listen about holiday songs. All the voices and music added to it and made it festive and informative.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not Bad.

Pretty good but a bit unorganized. A lot of jargon that only songwriters could understand. Would have liked more song examples.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Worst narrator ever

The narrator sounds like an automaton. Think if Siri was narration. There’s some interesting content. Some of it is nothing more than plugs for certain Artist s new albums. It’s only an hour so not a total waste of time but close

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

short but sweet doc about Christmas songs

I enjoyed it. Informative, it was short but sweet listen about the history of some Christmas songs we've come to Love and hate lol

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Christmas Songs, Unwrapped

You know the songs, now hear the stories behind the songs! This audio presentation is full of fun facts, a few inconvenient truths, and some great interviews with the songwriters themselves. And it’s small enough to fit in your stocking, or rather, short enough to fit into your busy holiday season. A lot to unpack, though, so I may just listen to it twice this year! And yes, if that sounds like I might listen again next Christmas, that’s a distinct possibility.

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Very interesting!

I love Christmas music and to hear the history of it was very interesting. It would have been nice to hear a little more of the music.

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  • K. L.
  • minnesota
  • 12-09-18

Interesting about Christmas songs

I am not planning to write a Christmas song but it was interesting to listen to this special audible production and learn about the different songs and how they originated. Also different song writers were interviewed who have written Christmas music!