Long before the inception of Pandora, I can vividly recall the very first thumbs-down that I gave to a song. It also happened to be my first time butting heads with my parents on musical taste. It was Christmas of 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 didn’t like his voice.
“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 better than Engelbert Humperdinck. I also had my own favorite Christmas 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 taste in music, but the cool thing about Holiday stations on Pandora is that they offer plenty of agreeable middle ground for nights 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 any of the artists peppering our Indie Holidays station, I’ll bet he’d be into She & Him’s timeless take on “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, or Sufjan Stevens plucking the banjo on a slightly countrified rendition of “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”.
Speaking of the twangy stuff, one genre that the old man and I can both agree on is country. Pandora’s Country Christmas offers both old and new country carols. My dad used to play Alabama’s “Christmas In Dixie” in the family wagon and I still love to hear their lush vocal harmonies.
I know my father and I would also be able to agree on Soulful Holidays Radio. With smooth gems like Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” Jackson 5’s festively funky “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and Stevie Wonder’s moving “One Little Christmas Tree”, this is the Pandora station that finds me hitting thumbs-up more than any other.
So, whatever music you prefer, we hope you and your families enjoy Pandora’s holiday music offerings and can find some songs to give a collective thumbs up.