At the height of their career, the Beatles were not above cashing in on Christmas tunes at the end of the year, a formula that 40 years later still serves well for musical groups from Venezuela to Australia.
The seven Christmas albums the Fab Four put out between 1963 and 1969 were condensed into a single, special album for their fans in Britain and the United States in 1970, when arguably the most famous pop group of all time split up.
One year into his solo musical career, John Lennon composed “Happy Christmas (War is Over), a holiday-protest song against the Vietnam War.
The album, which sold like hot cakes around the world, also featured his wife Yoko Ono and a Harlem children’s choir.
Less political but extremely catchy, was the tune written by Paul McCartney in 1979, “Wonderful Christmas Time. Over the years the song has grown in popularity to rival all-time favorites Irvin Berlin’s “White Christmas (1942) and James Pierpoint’s “Jingle Bells (1857).
Christmas songs are a 700-year-old Christian tradition celebrating the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Three Wise Men, but the song-writing it spawned over the past few decades has led to enormous commercial success – and this year to Venezuelan group Voz Veis’ first Latin Grammy.
Like many musical ensembles before them, Voz Veis made the top of the charts with a new type of Christmas tune, “Come To My House for Christmas, written by Luis Aguile.
“We wanted a magical repertoire for Christmas that was different, Voz Veis singers Luis Fernando Castillo told AFP. “The song is about the nostalgia you feel for somebody far away, a feeling many immigrants have that is not reflected in Christmas jingles.
The Grammy the group won in November, he said, “showed the world that there’s more to Venezuela than (President Hugo) Chavez, Castillo said, referring to the country’s anti-American firebrand leader.
Some of the biggest names in the music business are among the most popular Christmas jingle singers on Internet music sites.
Topping the charts are “We Wish You a Merry Christmas, sung by Ireland’s Enya, and the “Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), versions by Nat King Cole and Celine Dion.
Another highly popular song is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You, inspired by actor Johnny Depp.
“Commercially Christmas is an important time for music companies, but it varies from year to year. Generally, they record a selection from different artists and its edited for that season, EMI Televisa’s Meyber Santos told AFP in her Miami office.
Sting, U2, Phil Colllins and Freddy Mercury and even Spanish crooner Jose Luis Perales – every singer seems to have a Christmas tune in the music stands.
But Christmas jingles are not restricted to warm, feel-good images of reindeer, Santa Claus and toasty fireplaces. Some artists instead plumb the dark side of holiday cheer.
Australian Kevin “Bloody Wilson tops the list among eccentrics seeking guffaws over rosy cheeks for Christmas on YouTube, especially with holiday tunes like “Santa Got Stoned at Christmas and “Kristmas Without Snow.