Is this the happiest Christmas song ever?


'Love's Not Just for Christmas,' London Community Gospel Choir
'Love's Not Just for Christmas,' performed by the London Community Gospel Choir. (intu via YouTube)

Can big data and musical minds conspire to create the perfect holiday song? A musicologist and some songwriters teamed up to find out if it's possible.

The resulting song is titled, "Love's Not Just for Christmas." Dr. Joe Bennett, an academician and one of the people involved in the project, posted on his website, "I think it came out great, but judge for yourself."

Bennett is the vice president of academic affairs and a musicologist at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and he was asked to provide statistics about the characteristics of the U.K.'s favorite Christmas songs. To do this, Bennett analyzed the top 200 U.K. Spotify song streams from the week of Dec. 25, 2016, a project he describes on his website. Seventy-eight of those 200 songs were holiday tunes, and according to Bennett's analysis paper, those songs were analyzed "for their lyric theme, tempo, musical key, vocal, and sleigh bell usage."

Among the interesting findings were that 49 percent of the songs used sleigh bells, 95 percent were written and performed in a major key, and 90 percent are in 4/4 time. As for lyrical content, Bennett found that the words that appeared most frequently were snow, party, tree, Santa, love, home and cold. And as far as performers go, Bennett noted that Michael Bublé performed on 10 percent of the songs in his survey.

From there, according to Observer, a songwriting commission was underwritten by Intu, a London-based company that owns and manages 20 shopping malls in the U.K. and in Spain. The task was to create the perfect song for the holidays.

U.K. songwriters Harriet Green and Steve Anderson wrote the song that became "Love's Not Just for Christmas." It was recorded by the London Community Gospel Choir, contains sleigh bells and the word "Christmas" 21 times. Not surprisingly, given the commission, the video for the song was shot inside a shopping center.

London Community Gospel Choir
'Love's Not Just for Christmas,' performed by the London Community Gospel Choir. intu via YouTube

As to what makes the perfect holiday song? According to Bennett's research, it might contain these characteristics:
• Major key (C major or A major)
• 4/4 time, or 4/4 swing time
• A lyric theme relating to Santa, snow, home/family or being in love (at Christmas)
• Sleigh bells playing 8 to the bar in the chorus
• Tempo of approximately 115 beats per minute (the median average tempo)
• Michael Bublé singing

Concluding his paper, Dr. Bennett writes, "An honorable mention must go so Slade's 'Merry Xmas Everybody' (1973) which always does remarkably well in Christmas song polls, and covers most of the elements shown above … Would a Noddy Holder/Michael Bublé collaboration become the most successful Christmas song ever? We may never know."


Joe Bennett - professional website

Joe Bennett - Boston Conservatory at Berklee

London Community Gospel Choir - official site

intu Properties plc - company website

1 Photos

  • London Community Gospel Choir
    The London Community Gospel Choir performing at the Apollo Victoria on Jan. 9, 2011, in London. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images for The Hunger Project)

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