All I Want for Christmas is hearing a few new songs: Sky Radio plays classics on repeat

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Driving to my family-in-law Christmas dinner, we had Sky Radio playing. My wife cheered, as Mariah Carey’s classic All I Want For Christmas Is You played. Just a song you have to hear this time of year, she claimed, a song that cannot be missed. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. It had been playing so many times before.

So I decided to test if my feeling was right: that Sky Radio, as Christmas Station, had a few favorites that it kept playing over and over.

I was right. Songs playing 8 or 9 times a day were no exception. Multiple songs playing at least 5 times every day for an entire month. But mostly the fact that every day was basically a repetition of the last one: the first weeks of November played almost 5 times more songs than the same period in December!

Methodology: the source of the data for all charts and tables is, which was scraped automatically. Full code can be found on GitHub.

There’s too few Christmas songs: no diversity in daily playlists

Entering December, Sky Radio only plays Christmas songs. And this leads to the repetitions I mentioned before. For instance, on the first day of December, 110 different songs were on the radio. More than twice that number of unique songs played on the first day of November.

Sky Radio has double the diversity on a single day before it becomes the Christmas Station.

But it gets more repetitive. Look at the same chart, but now for longer periods too: a single day, a week and 20 days of November and December. During the Christmas Period, after listening for a day, you will not hear many new songs anymore: while having heard 110 unique songs on the first day, in the following 19 days you will only hear 73 new songs. This is in contrast to the pre-Christmas period, where you will hear over 600 new songs in these days. This shows fundamentally in the last two bars, where there was 4.5 times less diversity during the Christmas station than before.

Sky Radio plays very few new songs after the first day, playing 4.5 less diverse in 20 days of the Christmas Station than the previous month

The true classics play every few hours for all of December

Speaking of repetitions: some songs are on every day, multiple times. In fact, 9 (!) songs are played every day, at least 5 times, for 25 days straight.

Mariah CareyAll I want for Christmas is you
Chris ReaDriving home for Christmas
John LennonHappy Xmas (War is over)
Darlene LoveAll alone on Christmas
Ariana GrandeSanta tell me
Band AidDo they know it’s Christmas
Kelly ClarksonUnderneath the tree
Wham!Last Christmas
Bryan AdamsChristmas time
Songs played on Sky Radio at least 5 times each day between 1 December 2022 and 25 December 2022

In fact, 4 of these songs were so popular they were played 9 times on a single day!

Ariana GrandeSanta tell me
Chris ReaDriving home for Christmas
Kelly ClarksonUnderneath the tree
Wham! Last Christmas
Songs played at least 9 times on a single day between 1 December 2022 and 25 December 2022

Mind you, this is unique to Christmas. There is no song that comes close to being played this often before. The same goes for the first list: no song was played 5 times every day in November

The ultimate Sky Radio favourites: 12 songs playing for 25% of the time

Just 12 songs, a short CD, account for 25% of the songs played of Sky Radio in December.

ArtistTitleTimes played
in December
Mariah CareyAll I want for Christmas is you177
Wham!Last Christmas176
Chris ReaDriving home for Christmas174
Ariana GrandeSanta tell me174
Darlene LoveAll alone on Christmas173
Kelly ClarksonUnderneath the tree173
Bryan AdamsChristmas time172
Band AidDo they know it’s Christmas171
QueenThank God it’s Christmas165
John LennonHappy Xmas (War is over)163
DanaIt’s gonna be a cold cold Christmas162
José FelicianoFeliz Navidad148

Our conversation in the car continued. While I was saying how I wanted to hear some fresh and exciting songs, my wife was emphasizing how it gave her the real Christmas feeling to hear these classics again, and made her really enthusiastic about the Christmas period. Is repetition a bad thing? Definitely not. They claim to have over 6 million listeners during the Christmas period.
Sky Radio for a day is fine. An entire month though? Not for me!

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