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I've noticed on quite a few of the Christmas light display videos on YouTube that people are using the same few songs. (I don't know if any of these people are members of this forum, so please forgive me.)

  • Music Box Dancer
  • Amazing Grace Techno
  • TSO - Wizards in Winter
  • Carol of the Bells (any version)

Is there a reason for this seeming overuse of these songs? I'm not saying that each display doesn't have its merrits and good points, it just seems that there is a lack of thought going into the playlists of a number of people. (again, I don't know if the posters of the videos are members of this forum)

For me, I am thinking along the lines of:

  • Harry Connick, Jr.
  • Jackie Gleason
  • "What's This?" from Disney's "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
  • Barbara Streisand
  • Mannheim Steamroller

Just to name a few of the artists. The songs, and number of songs, have yet to be determined.

What artists/songs do you use?

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Is there a reason for this seeming overuse of these songs?

Because people see a video using the song, they like it, it gets them excited enough to go out and buy the equipment/software, they use it, and then they proudly post a video of their efforts to YouTube.

That, and there's a big difference between the perception of your friends/neighbors and those watching a YouTube video from afar.

Edited by tonyjmartin
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For me my personal favorites were Harry Connick Jr. I did "Blue Christmas" and "Let It Snow". (Have videos just off my main page) I plan on keeping those for next year (and tweek it for the additional channels added). I also hope to add the really fast Jingle Bells. Did Barbara S. do that one? Think so...

www.burtonchristmaslights.tk

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"Is there a reason for this seeming overuse of these songs?"

They are only over used if your on the web and looking at videos. If you use these in your display your visitors will probably love them!!!

95% of the new visitors have never seen a display with animation and only about 50% have even seen any thing on the web animated.. I do WIW and Carol of the Bells. Along with 14 other songs (adding 5 more this year) . A lot of people use these songs because they just plain look great when animated! Why not use songs that will wow people:) I also think some people are apprehensive about trying a totally new or unfamiliar song, because it's a lot of work to sequence a song, and It might turn out bad. I have to use my other computer to give you a list of artists and songs.

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"Is there a reason for this seeming overuse of these songs?"

They are only over used if your on the web and looking at videos. If you use these in your display your visitors will probably love them!!!

95% of the new visitors have never seen a display with animation and only about 50% have even seen any thing on the web animated.. I do WIW and Carol of the Bells. Along with 14 other songs (adding 5 more this year) . A lot of people use these songs because they just plain look great when animated! Why not use songs that will wow people:) I also think some people are apprehensive about trying a totally new or unfamiliar song, because it's a lot of work to sequence a song, and It might turn out bad. I have to use my other computer to give you a list of artists and songs.

I was going to reply, but you said exactly what I was thinking, so no sense repeating.

I do my display with the live viewer in mind, not the online or PC viewer.

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I agree with all of the comments. From the original post I agree that the same old same old are done repeatedly in many of the displays you see on videos (and especially here on PC). Like minded folks will always do that; there's simply no way to avoid it. There's nothing "wrong", per say, about it but it does tend to seem like a stunning lack of original sequencing.

On the other hand, as many people pointed out, if you're doing your display for those who come live, using these songs are very well received by the audience. Some have seen the multitude of "regular" songs on the internet, but most are just seeing something like our displays for the first time. And that's mesmerizing no matter what the song is.

For me though, I do my display and song choices for the following, in this order: My family and I first, the visitors who come second, and you folks last (sorry everyone!). So if I like a song, I'll do it. I did theme nights last year and my family enjoyed going outside every night, sit in the sleigh, and enjoy our display. The visitors also loved it and came back repeatedly. It was a nice way to do some original stuff and keep my batteries fresh as well.

My song list is on this page, at the top:

http://www.johnsonschristmascorner.com/Christmas2009.html

In short, do what you like and what you think will look good for your personal display. You won't be disappointed if you stick to that.

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Here's the songs i did for last year. i finally got my laptop powered up. I let the power supply at work.

THX -Deep Note Startup sequence Crash

The House on Christmas Street, Judy Pancoast

Christmas Vacation, Movie theme song

Christmas Pipes, Celtic Woman

Wish Liszt Toy Shop Madness, TSO

Pokemon Christmas bash

Wizards of Winter, TSO

Christmas in Sarajevo, TSO

Carol of the Bells, David Foster

12 days of Christmas, Gary Hoey

Duelling Banjos, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs

Auld Lang Syne, Gary Hoey

Mad Russian Christmas, TSO

Deck the Halls, instrumental

Let it snow, Bing Crosby

A Star to follow, TSO

Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms

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It has been my observation that there are two schools of thought to choosing a song - 1. Do what is popular. This is why so many people do WIW. It is a crowd pleaser. It has the easiest appeal to generate crowd satisfaction and ratings.

Advantages: People will instantly recognize the song, video it for you and put it on You Tube.

Disadvantages: Nothing new under the sun

Examples: WIW became an international hit in 2005 after being viewed on YouTube by millions.

But if all were to do nothing but WIW, then the techno Amazing Grace by Holdman would not have repeated in 2008.

2. Do what you like - If you like a song, then do it. It may not get you on the cover of the Rolling Stone, but you will enjoy the lights. And chances are if you like them, others will like them.

Advantages - fresh and original songs will keep your crowds coming back for more.

Disadvantages - you may not get but only a few hundred hits on you tube if that is what you are looking for.

Examples:

My best song was "I f--ted on Santa's Lap Now Christmas Is Going To Stink For Me (based on you tube views before it was yanked).

My favorite Song is Marty Robbins "Many Christmases Ago".

Bottom line - If you like a song, then do it. If you want a chance for international fame and attention, I would recommend a techno/rock instrumental. Words detract from the international appeal. In other words, people in Japan will be more likely to watch Amazing Grace than Silent Night.

The above post is based on my observations and conversations with people in my area that have seen mine and other displays.

Song list from 2009:

Carol of the Bells by the Fox Chapel Singers (my daughter requested it)

Somewhere in My Memory from Home Alone (very pretty)

Emmanuel by Michael W. Smith (originally sequenced by Daniel - I have used it 3 years in a row)

Light of the Stable by Selah (good message)

Linus' Soliloquy from Charlie Brown Christmas Special

Must Be Santa by Mitch Miller (did this one to plant ear worms in every kid in the city)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by The Four Seasons (I heard this one on the radio and had to do it)

Everybody's Waiting for the Man With The Bag - Kaye Starr (My wife requested this one)

Reflections of Earth - Disney (cool to watch - labor intensive to program)

Santa Claus is Back in Town by Elvis (Love the bluesy sound - and Elvis was born in MS)

Here Was a Man - Johnny Cash (very good message)

Edited by Dale W
added song list from 2009
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I think some songs are much more interesting as a complete light show then others, so we dont see the wide diversity of songs available. Keep looking around, many many people are out there searching for new songs, but the main three or four you mentioned - well everyone plays them because these songs are famous "christmas light show" songs, owners like playing them and visitors ask for you to play them as this is what they expect to see at light shows. Otherwise many of us allow our own individual tastes to influence their playlists. Originally I started out playing mostly 1950's original artists christmas songs, and moved up to the disco era and then onto other genres as they seemed to be really cool when played with flashing lights. Last year most of my 50's and disco songs had been retired as I started looking at the 60's and 70's non-disco style and others. You might find what you want to play and your theme changes from year to year.

You might be suprised that you see very little of jazz or country style songs rarely work well with light shows and thus you see very few of them being used.

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You might be suprised that you see very little of jazz or country style songs rarely work well with light shows and thus you see very few of them being used.

Ahem.

Jazz: Mannheim Steamroller. And any of Marty Slack's classic jazz selections. Though the former is admittedly modern jazz or fusion, take your pick.

Country: Dixie Chicks, SHe DAISY, Faith Hill, Aaron Tippin.

Everybody notices more of what they are into....

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You might be suprised that you see very little of jazz or country style songs rarely work well with light shows and thus you see very few of them being used.

Sorry, but I have an entire country NIGHT and it worked out quite well. And I got them all sequenced (along with the others) and held onto my job Joe! :giggle:

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Guest Lightzilla

I am not the biggest fan of the WIW song but I have it in my song list and it will stay, but here where I live it is not crowed favorite.

Walter Murphy s "A Fifth Of Beethoven" is the peoples favorite in the Village where I live. I also have songs that are not used by most and folks liked them, but the two songs that are gaining popularity and used by folks are the Miser Brothers songs "Heat and Snow Miser"........folks here in the Village liked those two sequences.

I am doing even more songs that are not used in Christmas Displays to the best of my knowledge but this Christmas I will use them and I should have a big hit with 1 of the 2 that are completed so far.

I am working on song number 3 and the timing marks are completed, and I started adding the effects, it is part of my military solute to the men & women of the Canadian Armed Forces who cannot be with family & friends this Christmas season do to their jobs.

Actually I play what my wife and I want since it was my money that was invested which pays for my display.....if no one else but my family likes it then so be it.

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If you are looking for different christmas songs then maybe look outside of the U.S. and obvious songs for inspiration.

There was a time from the latte 60's to late 80's when the UK had a whole raft of christmas songs and many of them are excellent light show songs.

Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade

I wish it could be christmas every day - wizzard.

Merry Christmas everyone - Shakin Stevens

Last Christmas (techno remix) - Wham (George Michael)

or even try something like a Glenn Miller Medley.

All of theses are findable on the various song web sites.

Hope this give syou a few ideas.

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Two biggest reasons people use "the same songs":

1) Lots of people share sequences and it's easier (in theory) to start with a partially-done sequence than hammer something out from scratch.

2) The mentality that someone sees a light show they really like (e.g. several of those songs were from Richard Holdman's display) and wants something 'just like that' in their display. More than a few people have gone out of their way to make an almost duplicate copy of another person's display, right down to the layout and choice of display elements.

Other folks go out of their way to be original and use things that nobody else does.

Most of the rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.

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I think some songs are much more interesting as a complete light show then others, so we dont see the wide diversity of songs available. Keep looking around, many many people are out there searching for new songs, but the main three or four you mentioned - well everyone plays them because these songs are famous "christmas light show" songs, owners like playing them and visitors ask for you to play them as this is what they expect to see at light shows...

Have to agree with Joseph that there are only a few songs that look good animated. As you search for other Christmas music you can lose sight of the fact that the song is for Christmas. My test is to play it for my kids and if they call it Christmas music and like it, then it works.

Of course if they hear a song played somewhere they want to try it. Even grabbed some songs from the Christmas cartoons this year....except the penuts again.

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I would have to say that where as in our PC world, WIW is a song that we deem over used. I have a library of music in my computer and can pull many songs out of it that aren't always done. I like to have these available to anyone who I do sequencing for. However, I have found that many of my customers will pick songs that have been done or are unique. This makes it fun.

The primary concern is who is going to be viewing the show the most. And that is YOU and YOUR FAMILY! Your family will be listening to the songs for months prior to the holidays so they are your best judge for what works and what doesn't.

Just my 2 cents

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Have to agree with Joseph that there are only a few songs that look good animated. As you search for other Christmas music you can lose sight of the fact that the song is for Christmas.

I respectfully disagree... ;)

I have seen several songs that looked good animated... but I have also seen the same songs that were not animated well. :)

There is a HUGE selection of Christmas oriented songs out there in every genre you can imagine. Depending on your own tastes and your intended audience, what works for you (or me), may not be someone else's cup of tea at all.

Some like to keep things strictly traditional, others prefer inspirational, modern, rock, jazz, or some blend of these.

There are a FEW songs that are just downright HARD to sequence...

Not impossible though... There was a song I have wanted to do for 5 years now, but I could not wrap my head around how to sequence it. Just couldn't picture it being possible. Low and behold, someone posted a video of their sequence to the very same song and they managed to pull it off... quite well I might add! :o

I personally include a little something from a variety of musical tastes and speeds... but all Christmas oriented for sure. I am proud to say that of all the songs listed in this thread so far, "The House on Christmas Street, Judy Pancoast" is the only one listed that I personally included in last years show. :D

There is more music out there... :santasmileyitty:

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I have been using a Mr. Christmas controller for 3 years and first decided to do Light-O-Rama on Christmas Eve. I was going to check Facebook one last time and Richard Holdman's Amazing Grace was on my homepage (AOL News). I clicked the link and I was amazed. I found Holdman's website, and that's when I said, "I want to do this."

I think a lot of people have moments like that and see something amazing like Holdman's display and want to create their own version of it. This goes for songs and elements.

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"Is there a reason for this seeming overuse of these songs?"

They are only over used if your on the web and looking at videos. If you use these in your display your visitors will probably love them!!!

95% of the new visitors have never seen a display with animation and only about 50% have even seen any thing on the web animated.. I do WIW and Carol of the Bells. Along with 14 other songs (adding 5 more this year) . A lot of people use these songs because they just plain look great when animated! Why not use songs that will wow people:) I also think some people are apprehensive about trying a totally new or unfamiliar song, because it's a lot of work to sequence a song, and It might turn out bad. I have to use my other computer to give you a list of artists and songs.

People like us, who work at this all year long, can use youtube to get ideas or admire or show-off our own work! It's different for us because we know the "lingo" and we're on the inside scoop.

I personally am SO SICK of Wizards in Winter but I respect the song because it was the first song I ever saw programmed (Carson Williams). I wanted to scrap it from my show last year but was reminded that while I may have seen 100's of attempts at that song, my audience had not seen OUR version and had most likely not seen anybody elses either.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Same old songs use to be new at one time.

Back when I started I wanted to do some original songs that have not been done yet so I poured over a ton of music and the result was Music Box Dancer which is not even a Christmas Song and Amazing Grace Techno which can sort of be a Christmas Song but when you hear it you don't think Christmas like you would with something like Jingle Bells.

My YouTube account got wiped out because of a copyright issue with a certain song and I had to re-upload all my videos so now they show a newer date so it looks my videos are "newer" and because of this I will sometimes I will get comments on YouTube were people will say I copied somebody else because they saw another video first using Music Box or Amazing Grace. :) Kind of Funny.

There is a good chance I will be doing my display back at my house this year and in the process now of trying to find some other unknown gems out there. I have a couple that I am thinking of but I don't know if they will be as popular as the others. I plan on using some others also that have been only used by 1 or 2 other PC members that I know of.

Actually I almost did not do Amazing Grace. My display was already up and running and I wanted to add one more and I thought it would be fun to do and it ended being my most popular one. I pulled it from the show this last year when I had to cut it down to 3 songs because of traffic and received a lot of complaints so back up it went!

Music Box Dancer and Amazing Grace will always be a part of the display. It has become my own "Wizards in Winter".

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I'm not going to beat this horse again with respect to the type of song that should be used in a display. All of the previous posters have illustrated excellent points as to which songs to use. I will say this to those who are looking for something new: Disney produces absolutely beautiful Christmas instrumentals that are begging to be sequenced; however, they are not easy songs to do with multiple tempo changes and lack of a strong beat. And they are long so custom edits of these songs is almost necessary (such as Reflections of Earth, which is almost 10 minutes long, I have edited down to 5). The tempo changes, crescendos and decrescendos, changes in mood, and just the sheer power of the Disney music almost demands to be sequenced. "If You Believe" is an absolutely fabulous song and so is "If You Can Dream." But ultimately, what makes a good sequence, regardless of the song, is practice, patience, and the ability of the sequencer. It's easy to make the lights go blinky flashy, but it can certainly be difficult to make them look good. I'm still trying to make mine look good...Maybe this will be my year.

Edited by B_Regal78
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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know if it's too late but I noticed you mention Harry Coonick Jr.? Personally I enjoy his song "Santa Claus", I don't think it would be terribly difficult to sequence and it's a very family friendly song! Just a suggestion!

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Richard,

I don't know how I bumped into your site last year but it renewed an old love for doing Christmas decorations. Your work inspired me to start up once again. Last year I tried out just a little with LOR but this year will have about 128 channels (so far). I have been working on it almost daily. Can't wait to see what you'll have for this coming year. Hope you "community" does not give you to hard of a time.

Good luck,

Denise Brunner

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You know...that is a great suggestion. I can't get out of my head the suggestion someone made about doing song segments together. Kind of like doing a Harry Connick Jr. segment ;-) Hope he comes out with some new Christmas material.

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I'm not going to beat this horse again with respect to the type of song that should be used in a display. All of the previous posters have illustrated excellent points as to which songs to use. I will say this to those who are looking for something new: Disney produces absolutely beautiful Christmas instrumentals that are begging to be sequenced; however, they are not easy songs to do with multiple tempo changes and lack of a strong beat. And they are long so custom edits of these songs is almost necessary (such as Reflections of Earth, which is almost 10 minutes long, I have edited down to 5). The tempo changes, crescendos and decrescendos, changes in mood, and just the sheer power of the Disney music almost demands to be sequenced. "If You Believe" is an absolutely fabulous song and so is "If You Can Dream." But ultimately, what makes a good sequence, regardless of the song, is practice, patience, and the ability of the sequencer. It's easy to make the lights go blinky flashy, but it can certainly be difficult to make them look good. I'm still trying to make mine look good...Maybe this will be my year.

Nooo! You gave away my secret!!!

I don't post the Disney songs on the internet because I worry about copyright (and Disney is notorious for that) but I frequently use Disney as the closer to my show because it leaves the audience with a wonderful feeling!

Here's what scares me (now that the secret is out), too many times people do half-a** programming to some AMAZING songs and it just turns the audience off to that music. Disney is NOT something you can half-a**, they spend so much time creating the music we have to spend equal time with the lights. For my closing Disney song I spent a long time detailing it just the way I wanted it so the emotion of the lights would equal that of the music.

So case and point, DON'T DO DISNEY unless you're willing to put in the effort!

Edited by thefilmmaker91
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