At least three Change.org petitions are seeking to ban Mariah Carey’s 1994 holiday hit, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” One imploring the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the song from playing in retail corridors and on the radio calls it “the bane of shoppers, retail workers and pedestrians.”
An article in The Wall Street Journal details how retail and restaurant workers are being psychologically hounded by the playing of holiday classics from Bing Crosby to the Ronettes and Wham!, as well as obscure covers.
Holiday music has increased in popularity over the last decade, getting a boost from streaming services, according to Billboard. Retailers are also kicking off holiday tunes earlier in the season in sync with promotions.
Cheerful and upbeat holiday music has been shown to put shoppers in the buying mood. Playlists are carefully curated to each retailer’s atmosphere and target audience.
Elizabeth Margulis, a professor of music at Princeton University and director of the Music Cognition Lab, however, told Bloomberg that holiday music follows an inverted U-curve for listeners. Tunes initially benefit from nostalgia and not being heard for the majority of the year, but eventually cause more irritation than delight due to repetition. She said, “There’s this point where it turns around and starts going down the other side.”
The repetition can be particularly painful for retail workers. The WSJ article highlighted retail associates’ struggles trying to tune out the seemingly round-the-clock jingles. One of the nearly 200 commentators to the article said, “I really like Christmas music, but if I had to listen to it non-stop, I’d feel the same way these poor employees do.”
A 2017 survey from Soundtrack Your Brand, a music streaming platform for businesses, found a quarter of retail workers agreeing that too much Christmas music makes them less festive, with 16 percent indicating it impacts their work environment negatively. Soundtrack Your Brand’s founder told The New York Post at the time, “In what can be a highly stressful job at this time of year, it’s important to consider whether a store’s soundtrack is actually increasing stress among its staff.”
- Ban Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You From Retail and Radio – Change.org
- All They Want for Christmas Is to Stop That Mariah Carey Song – Wall Street Journal
- The Endless Green of ‘White Christmas’ & Other Holiday Hits – Billboard
- Retailers Know What Your Shopping Experience Needs: Holiday Music – Bloomberg
- What retail staff and customers think about Christmas music – Soundtrack Your Brand
- Retail workers say holiday music is emotionally damaging: study – New York Post
- It’s beginning to smell (and sound) a lot like Christmas: the interactive effects of ambient scent and music in a retail setting – Science Direct