What’s Sex Got to do With… Christmas Music?

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I love the holidays. I start listening to Christmas music promptly on November 1st, simply because I want the snowy, cheerful season to last for as long as possible. I celebrate Christmas, but the holidays in general seem to bring about a theme of love between partners, family, and friends and appreciating one another as the year comes to a close.

It is rare that newer Christmas music becomes popular. It’s hard to get rid of the classic songs—“Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, “Let it Snow,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” to name a few. Other songs focus on the romantic part of the holiday season, finding love in the snow and under the mistletoe. However, it all has a very “Mr. and Mrs. Claus” vibe. Listening to the radio, it’s easy to pick up on the hetero-centric lyrics and themes that in a lot of these festive songs. There are fewer songs I take very direct issue with, however. One of these is Michael Bublé’s version of “Santa Baby.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Bublé. His Christmas album is killer. I was caught off guard, however, when I heard the first refrains of “Santa Baby”, an oddly sexy Christmas song which filters through the radio every December. Then I actually listened:

“One thing that I really do need, the deed
to a platinum mine
Santa pal-ly,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.
Santa buddy, fill my stocking with Canucks tix, for kicks
Throw me on the first line, Santa baby
So hurry down the chimney tonight.”

I’m sorry… what? Sure, it was an odd choice of song in the first place. However, his lyric adjustments only further point out the heteronormative agenda that is present in Christmas music. Not only does he make sure that we know that Santa is no more than a pal, which is understandable to an extent. I mean, I would probably do the same thing. But he also changes the kinds of gifts—such as Canucks tickets and a Rolex—to items that would reinforce his masculinity to the listener

Another Christmas song that is easy to overlook due to its catchy tune is “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” It once again focuses on a heterosexual interaction, but the theme of the song and its language in general is very coercive. If you are unfamiliar with the song, it’s about a woman who is leaving her date’s house. One partner will sing the first part of the line, and the other will finish it.

“I simply must go – Baby, it’s cold outside
The answer is no – Ooh darling, it’s cold outside
This welcome has been – I’m lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm – Look out the window at that storm
My sister will be suspicious – Man, your lips look delicious
My brother will be there at the door – Waves upon a tropical shore
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious – Gosh your lips are delicious
Well maybe just a half a drink more – Never such a blizzard before”

Newer versions of this song always have a woman singing the first part of the line, but the original actually had it sung both ways. Regardless, it is always the woman’s family who will be “suspicious”, etc.

So please, please, enjoy the delight of the holiday season if that’s your thing (as it is mine), but next time take a more critical listen at the music that fills some of our homes during the holiday season: it just might surprise you.

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