Christmas songageddons

I have seen a fair few Christmases and I still get nostalgic for the spirit of Christmas.  I am a traditionalist and still see the celebration in the context of the Christian nativity and gospel stories of the birth of Jesus. So I love listening to the great carols such as Jingle Bells, Silent Night, O Come all ye Faithful, The First Noel, and my particular favourite is the Coventry Carol.

But I also love the cheesy, overplayed Christmas songs that are on constant loop at supermarkets. You know the ones:

  • All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
  • Last Christmas by Wham!
  • Fairytale of New York by the Pogues
  • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Bublé
  • White Christmas by Bing Crosby
  • The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

The syrup from many of these replaces the snow that we don’t get in our mid-summer celebration in Australia. But the kitschy nature of so many of these Christmas songs has created a series of new online games, which we are calling songageddons after the most famous of them all, Whamageddon.

A songageddon is an online challenge game where you must avoid a particular song until Christmas or thereabouts. Whamageddon is the most well known game, but the Little Drummer Boy Challenge was the first, Mariahpocalypse is more common in Australia and Poguearrhea is also played.

So what is Whamageddon?

Whamageddon is a game played against Wham!’s, popular song, Last Christmas released in 1984. It was created about 20 years ago by four Danes who noticed that at Christmas they couldn’t avoid hearing Last Christmas. So they made a game of it to see who could get to Christmas without hearing the original song (cover versions allowed). To win the game, players must make it to the end of the day on 24 December without having heard the song. They created a Facebook page and a website that publishes the rules.

A player is considered out, or Whammed, once they hear and recognise the song. You are then sent to Whamhalla (Valhalla being the Germanic heaven). The game is competitive but it is bad form to force someone else out by tricking them into hearing the song for instance by sending them a fake link (i.e. rick-rolling when a link deceives you into linking to a video of Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up).

Whamageddon took off in 2016 (the year Wham! singer George Michael died on Christmas Day). My research suggests that the game is big in England and the US but has not quite made it to Australia.

If you find Whamageddon is too harsh for your taste, you can play WhamHunter where players get a point each time they hear Last Christmas (not playing it to yourself).

Little Drummer Boy Challenge

The Little Drummer Boy Challenge (LDBC) is the pioneer songageddon, that predates Whamageddon by quite a few years. It was started by a group of mates from a software company in Berkeley, California in the mid 1990s. It has similar rules—as soon as you hear a version on the radio, on TV, or in supermarket you are out—you are Puh-rum-pum-pum-pummed.  The LDB version by Bing Crosby and David Bowie disqualifies the most players, statistically. The LDBC has tighter rules than Whamageddon, with all song versions being “lethal” and also has a rule about not harassing musicians to remove it from their sets. You can access a list of “deadly” films to avoid those that contain the song.

Poguearrhea the Pogues songageddon

Poguearrhea is the name writer, Gary Almeter, dubbed the songageddon associated with the Pogues song, Fairytale of New York in 2021. This songageddon originated on Twitter in 2016. The only rule is that no Poguerolling (sending the link to friends online intentionally) is allowed. Almeter created the hashtag #poguearrhea as the social media tag to show you were out of the game.

I do love the song and have been a fan of the Pogues since the 1980s. Shane McGowan died this year 30 November 2023 and co-singer, Kirsty McColl was killed on the 18 December 2000 in a tragic motorboat accident.  So no disrespect to their memory is intended.

Mariahpocalypse

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You seems to be more the target of Australian songageddons (confirmed by my sons, one of whom got caught out when one of his colleagues had it on his Christmas song list, this week). Known sometimes as Mariahpocalypse (or ApoCareypse) it has similar rules to Whamageddon but starts on Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US, i.e. in late November) and ends at midnight on 26 December.

Merry Christmas 2023

Whatever your choice of songageddon or taste in music, be sure to have a great Christmas and all the best for 2024.