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'All I Want For Christmas Is You' Falls From Top Of Holiday Playlists

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It could be that this year's Christmas shoppers are getting familiar with The Shins.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME")

THE SHINS: (Singing) The party's on. The feeling's here.

CORNISH: The indie rockers are now leading the list of top song stores play to get you in the holiday shopping mood. Their cover of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" replaced Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." NPR's Andrew Limbong investigates.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Here's how a story likes this ends up on NPR. A press release gets sent out. A website or 10 find it interesting. They post it. It shows up on your feed, and people complain in the comment section. Wash, rinse, repeat.

That's what happened here. Everyone from the right wing folks at breitbart.com to the sort of self-styled New York cool at Vulture to us think it's interesting that this song...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU")

MARIAH CAREY: (Singing) I don't want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need. And I...

LIMBONG: ...Is played slightly fewer times in stores than this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME")

THE SHINS: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmastime.

LIMBONG: It makes sense. Holiday songs have a way of cutting closer to our feelings than other songs.

JULIA CUMMINGS: I don't know how people can disconnect Christmas and the holidays from nostalgia and their childhood.

LIMBONG: This is Julia Cummings. She's director of music services at PlayNetwork, the folks behind the press release with the list of holiday songs. The thing is...

CUMMINGS: We are the in-store radio of most of your favorite retailers.

LIMBONG: They work with stores to make custom-tailored playlists. That's most of the year. It all goes out the window during the holidays when everybody plays a lot of the same songs. And yes, PlayNetwork not only publicizes a holiday list, it helps make it. All those websites and NPR ate it up because, well, the world can be a bummer sometimes, and we want an excuse to play some holiday music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME")

THE SHINS: (Singing) And everyone can sing along...

LIMBONG: Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME")

THE SHINS: (Singing) Yeah. The party's on. The feeling's here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.