Your holiday shopping soundtracks
Those Christmas songs playing in the stores aren't there just to make your holiday shopping experience merrier.
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Have you ever wondered why, while you’re out holiday shopping, a dress shop might play one soundtrack of Christmas songs while a hardware store might play another?
Steven Pilker, manager of Muzak’s audio architecture department, knows the answers.
On "The Takeaway's" continuing series, "Remixing the Holidays," Pilker explained what all the retail noise is about.
"Brands have personalities, and every brand is trying to convey a certain emotion or a certain response with their customers, so we try to nurture that using music. So we try to find music that helps conveys those emotions to their customers.
"For someone like Sports Authority, probably a classic ... Elvis, "White Christmas," something that's nostalgic and familiar. For JC Penny, maybe something a little more upbeat ... like a modern version of "Jingle Bells."
"Jingle Bells" is THE holiday staple, and Pilker has hundreds of versions at his disposal. There's a Willie Nelson, country version; a Los Rios, Spanish version; and of course a younger, the hip-hop version.
"It's more targeted toward the specific demographics and the specific brand values," said Pilker. "So something like Willie Nelson is more organic, and a vegetarian restaurant might have more organic goods, so it kind of ties it in that way."
Pilker says there are three songs that must be on every holiday soundtrack, regardless of what the store sells: Elvis' "White Christmas," Vince Geraldi's "Christmas Time is Here," and surprisingly, U2's "Christmas Baby Please Come Home."
"U2 has such widespread appeal, and also out of that list of three songs, that's probably the most modern song and it's still an 80s song," said Pilker. "So it's funny how there aren't very many Christmas songs that come along every year that are classics.
"It's very difficult to have a breakout Christmas classic every year. We find that there are many new Christmas songs that come out every year, but it's very rare for one to have any kind of longevity."
Pilker's personal favorite is, sadly, one that would never be featured on a Muzak soundtrack: Burt Friedman's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.