Pop Shop Podcast: Johnny Mathis on the 'Blessing' of Soundtracking Christmas Memories & More

Johnny Mathis
Eliot Lee Hazel

Johnny Mathis

"To think that I am helping them enjoy their families and their situations that they're in at Christmastime — it's a dream come true.”

Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, your one-stop-shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. In addition, you can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop.

Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard deputy editor digital, Katie Atkinson every week on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in iTunes (click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on Billboard.com).

The latest Pop Shop Podcast is our holiday spectacular, and it stars the one-and-only pop legend Johnny Mathis. The 82-year-old Billboard chart-topper and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner stops by to talk about his ever-popular Christmas music, who he listens to during the season, and his new 68-CD box set The Voice of Romance: The Columbia Original Album Collection. The set includes every one of his studio albums recorded for the label, including all five of his Christmas titles, along with two previously unreleased albums (one of which was produced and written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of CHIC). Listen to our conversation with Mathis, below.

Mathis’ released his self-titled debut album in 1956, and two years later, issued his first holiday effort, the simply titled Merry Christmas. The set reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and has sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. The album boasts two of his most familiar Christmas tunes: “Winter Wonderland” and “Sleigh Ride.”

His most recent album, Johnny Mathis Sings the Great New American Songbook, was released in September. In total, Mathis has notched 34 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, 50 entries on the Adult Contemporary airplay tally, and more than 70 albums on the Billboard 200.

“It is such a blessing,” Mathis tells Billboard, “…that people tend to enjoy my music at Christmastime. It's everything that you could ask for. I mean, those are the most special times in people’s lives. And to think that I am helping them enjoy their families and their situations that they're in at Christmastime — it's a dream come true.”

What does Mathis listen to around the house during the season? Some of his “wonderful influences” like Nat King Cole, Lena Horne and Sarah Vaughan. “All these wonderful lady singers. I always loved girl singers because they could sing high, and they could sing low. But the guys… they always sounded the same, but the ladies could go all over the place. And that’s, sort of, vocally, where I was coming from.”

In addition to the chat with Mathis, the Pop Shop team discusses new holiday tunes from Kelly Clarkson, Josh Groban, Seal, Sia, Gwen Stefani and even Jane Lynch. And, the show also includes a Chart Stat of the Week on how Mariah Carey finally hits the top 10 on the Hot 100 with her evergreen holiday classic, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Listen above and click here to subscribe/rate the Pop Shop Podcast on iTunes.

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