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Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture$
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Sheila Whiteley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748628087

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748628087.001.0001

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Christmas Songs – Sentiments and Subjectivities

Christmas Songs – Sentiments and Subjectivities

Chapter:
(p.98) Chapter 6 Christmas Songs – Sentiments and Subjectivities
Source:
Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture
Author(s):

Sheila Whiteley

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748628087.003.0007

This chapter explains how Elvis Presley's cover of the Rev. Phillips Brooks' carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ in his 1957 Christmas Album took the centrality of the Christian message into a secular context by taking the carol into the popular domain. The album also included ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me’. It is evident that songs organised around a romantic discourse can teeter dangerously close to sentimentality which nevertheless comes across as ‘this is what it's all about’. Moving between sentimentality and cynicism, the cultural forms associated with Christmas, not least Christmas songs, provide a particular insight into the problems associated with meaning; they can challenge or maintain existing conventions.

Keywords:   sentimentality, Christmas Album, Elvis Presley, Rev. Phillips Brooks, White Christmas, Christian message, cynicism

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