xkcd and osirra’s Christmas music analysis: the difference a Pond makes

At 5am this morning, the latest xkcd blogpost was published, titled Tradition. (xkcd remains my favourite blog on the interweb, btw.)

I read it at around 0945. And by 1015 I’d posted the British equivalent. (The chart was built in Excel using an xkcd-esque font that I downloaded for the very job.)

The original post showed the 20 most-played Christmas songs (2000–2009 radio airplay) by decade of popular release. Nine of the entries fell in the 1950s and a further seven fell in the 1940s. Of the remaining four, two were in the ’60s, one in the ’70s and one in the ’30s. The most recent song in the chart, Feliz Navidad, was written in 1970, 41 years ago.

The post linked the surge in music with the postwar baby boom, suggesting that Christmases since that boom have merely tried to recreate the Christmases of that time.

I was certain that the UK equivalent chart would look wildly different, so I set out to show this. And wildly different it is. (Click the chart for a bigger version.)

XKCD - UK ChristmasI was expecting the median decade to be the ’70s, but in fact eight of the songs were released in the ’80s, a further six in the ’70s. The earliest charting number was Bing’s White Christmas from 1942, the most recent being the 1994 offerings from Mariah Carey (second best Christmas tune of all time: fact) and East 17.

The UK’s 20 songs are all far more recent, with a mean release year of 1977. (America’s 20 most-played average to 1951, each song being on average over a quarter of a century older than its UK equivalent.)

There is a strong musical tradition at Christmas in the UK, one that I unreservedly love. The Christmas Number One is a big deal (or at least it was until X Factor made it so much more formulaic), and I get the impression that modern Christmas music is far more accepted and expected in the UK than it is in the US.

A lovely piece of analysis by xkcd of the US market. But, if I may say so, a much more lovable piece of analysis by myself of the UK equivalent. Without xkcd, I wouldn’t have thought to do it. But without the wonderful British Christmas music market, I wouldn’t have been able to paint such a fabulous picture.


2 Responses to “xkcd and osirra’s Christmas music analysis: the difference a Pond makes”

  1. Greg on December 9th, 2011 22:06

    Thanka for doing this, I saw the xkcd pos and immediately wondered how a UK version would look!

  2. Kirsty on December 10th, 2011 08:37

    Cool! My first thought was “No, a UK version would be way more 80s orientated!” and went looking for the data… Glad you saved me the effort!

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