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London shopworkers on the misery of Christmas songs

By Amy Smith

Christmas is a time of peace on Earth and goodwill to all. Except if you work in the retail industry, in which case it’s a time of jingly nightmares and Bublé-induced mental torture.

With thousands of London workers having spent the last few weeks subjected to a head-office enforced playlist of Slade, Bing Crosby and Wham!, we checked in with three Londoners who aren’t exactly rocking around the Christmas tree. Names have been changed, in case Santa finds out...

Tallulah works for a major chain of supermarket.

‘In the beginning it's fine. Everyone is quite hyped about Christmas, but they always play the same songs on repeat and honestly, you want to plug boxes of Jaffa Cakes in your ears to stop the noise. Everyone working in the store ends up with "resting bitch face". It just becomes our constant face. Even though it's Christmas, it's hard to be nice to customers when the CD doesn't change. The shoppers have no idea that the music never changes. Now, that Mariah Carey song 'All I Want For Christmas'. Man, that is hateful.'


Rizwan works for a major book retailer.

'Because it's a bookshop, the songs are actually quite depressing. We have to play all that croony stuff, because you can't have Slade banging out of the speakers. It's a downer. Let me put it this way, no one is skipping to work. There's this one song "Silver Bells" and in my head, it just gets slower and sadder every time I hear it. It's a miserable experience. The only escape is at lunch, because there's no music in the staff cafeteria and we talk about how we're all coming to hate Christmas.'

Anja works for a high-street restaurant chain.

'Where do I start? The bells, the fake jolliness, the moments when it's quiet in store and all you hear are these damn songs. The absolute worst is when you find yourself singing along like they've actually merged with your brain in some fundamental way. The funny thing is I used to really like Christmas songs and look forward to the first hearing of Wham!'s 'Last Christmas'. Not any more.'

And to balance all that festive misery there's bonafide Christmas lover Lyn, who works in a south-London café.  

'I love Christmas music, so I'm always up for trying to get a Christmas playlist going in the café. But everyone is always like "whyyy?" I don't have control of the music at work so I'm always trying to sneak Christmas songs into the playlist. It can get quite serious and stressy at work especially when there's a rush and if "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" comes on, it reminds me of being cosy and can make me just stop for a second and smile.'

Still keen for some festive tunes? Here's our rundown of the 50 best Christmas songs.

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