It’s that time of year again — yes, ’tis the season — and data outlet FinanceBuzz has determined which Christmas songs each state has searched for the most over the past five years. Note: Only data on the 25 highest-charting Christmas songs on Billboard were used.

So what’s the most popular Christmas song in Texas? Well, you could probably guess. Given its proximity to Mexico and the pronounced number of Latinos, it’s no surprise José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” ranks as the Lone Star State’s favorite.

Texas is one of only three states to claim this 1970 hit as their most popular, the other two being Florida and New Mexico.

Mariah Carey’s ubiquitous 1994 classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” ranked No. 1 in 10 states, making it the most popular nationwide (by far). Interestingly, Carey’s song was also named the No. 1 most annoying Christmas song by the FinanceBuzz survey. (“Feliz Navidad” was named third most annoying.)

Since its release, “Feliz Navidad” (Spanish for “Merry Christmas”) has reached No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and become one of the most recognizable holiday songs. In 2020, Feliciano released a special version of the song on its 50th anniversary, featuring guests Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jason Mraz and Shaggy.

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Texas wasn’t easy to find among the full field of nominees for the 66th annual Grammy Awards, announced Nov. 10. Only 19 Texas born-or-based acts received nominations, making it one of the thinnest years for Texas music in recent Grammy memory.

What wasn’t difficult to find was the dominance of women in nearly every major category. And fittingly, in a year focused on female artists, Dallas-bred singer-songwriter Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) was one of the presenters during the live-streamed Grammy nominations special.

“Music is changing lives every minute of every day,” she said prior to introducing nominees for Best Rock Album, Best Alternative Performance and Best Alternative Music Album. “Every note that’s ever been played has affected someone.”

Among Texas acts who were honored, pop superstar Kelly Clarkson picked up a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album for Chemistry, Houston’s Travis Scott was nominated for Best Rap Album (for UTOPIA), and the Austin-based Black Pumas snagged a nod for Best Rock Performance for “More Than a Love Song.”

Houston’s Robert Glasper picked up a pair of nominations for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “Back to Love,” and the Arlington-formed a cappella group Pentatonix earned a nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for its seasonally themed Holidays Around the World. Veteran Rodney Crowell was nominated in the Best Americana Album category for The Chicago Sessions.

Fort Worth native and perennial Grammy fixture Kirk Franklin increased his impressive total of nominations to 31 — with 19 wins to date — as he picked up a nod for Best Gospel Performance/Song for “All Things.”

Willie Nelson, himself nominated a whopping 56 times prior to this year’s announcement, was nominated for Best Bluegrass Album for his recently released Bluegrass.

Elsewhere, Texas made cameos in various categories: Zach Bryan’s duet with Kacey Musgraves, “I Remember Everything,” was nominated for both Best Country Song and Country Duo/Group Performance, while Billy Strings’ “California Sober,” which features Nelson, was nominated for Best American Roots Song, and George Strait’s Blue Clear Sky was nominated for Best Immersive Audio Album.

The Grammys will be held Feb. 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and broadcast live on CBS. The full list of nominations for all 94 categories can be found at Grammy.com.

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Eli Young Band frontman Mike Eli was somewhere around 13 years old when he first heard the music of the iconic country band Little Texas.

“That math sounds about right,” Eli, 42, says with a laugh. “Little Texas was such a big part of me growing up. There was this roots rock thing that not a lot of bands were doing at the time. There was just something really special about them.”

Indeed, the legendary band, currently made up of Del Gray, Porter Howell, Dwayne O’Brien and Duane Propes, made an impression on country music back in the day with hit songs such as “My Love” and “Some Guys Have All the Love.”

“Their songs had an impact on the development of our band,” Eli adds. “There were a lot of Little Texas songs we tried out on stage, which helped in developing our own sound.”

One of those songs that still has resonance is Little Texas’ 1994 hit song “Amy’s Back in Austin.” Co-written by Brady Seals and Stephen Allen Davis, the Grammy-nominated song told the story of a couple in a rush to leave their hometown in the rearview mirror, only to find that one of them couldn’t ultimately see it through.

“It’s one of those songs you still want to pull out at the end of the night,” says Eli, a Denton native. “We have these moments after shows where we’re all hanging out on the bus, and we start jamming with songs that make us feel a certain way. That song, especially, brings me back to when I was 13, listening on my dad’s radio. That’s one of the special things about music.”

So when Eli and his Eli Young Band bandmates got the chance to pay homage to Little Texas with a cover of “Amy’s Back in Austin” for the upcoming tribute album God Blessed Texas, they jumped at the chance.

Making the opportunity even more intriguing was the chance for the band to collaborate on the song with rising country star and fellow Texas native George Birge, who currently finds himself on his way to the top of the charts with his current single “Mind on You.”

And as the Eli Young Band begins prepping their 2024 touring plans, Eli says he’d love to see “Amy’s Back in Austin” on the setlist.

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We’re in the homestretch of 2023, but Kacey Musgraves has one more duet to sing on: Madi Diaz’s “Don’t Do Me Good.”

The track, the latest single off Diaz’s upcoming album, Weird Faith, is a heart-wrenching ballad about accepting that a relationship has run its course, complete with a stunning melody and subtle instrumentation.

But when Musgraves enters on the second verse, her buttery vocals make the words all the more crushing: “Without the make-believe, the ‘what will be’ will be / What gives me the right to keep dreamin’? / Without the dark, maybe there will be no stars / Just broken floating parts for us to believe in.”

Now, to be clear, Diaz doesn’t need a guest vocalist to make her songs great. She knows how to craft introspective, tight verses and set them to addictive choruses that border on the mystical.

But just as Musgraves does on Zach Bryan’s “I Remember Everything” — which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song — and on Noah Kahan’s “She Calls Me Back,” which also charted, she takes the track to an otherworldly level, as both women join forces to sing about their unwillingness to throw in the towel despite knowing they should call it quits.

All three collaborations are a testament to what Musgraves’ presence can do to a song.

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Joshua Ray Walker showed off his knack for choosing left-of-center cover songs during a Dec. 5 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The Dallas songwriter and his band covered Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You,” a track off What Is It Even?, Walker’s album of songs by female artists.

With he and his band dressed in pink and sparkling attire, including a disco-ball helmet, Walker continued to toy with the fashion norms he smashed in the music video for “Cuz I Love You.” But the get-ups were only a small part of the performance: Walker’s huge, dynamic voice at the top of the song announced this was something you don’t often see or hear on late-night TV guest spots. Along with Adam “Ditch” Kurtz on steel, Billy Kuykendall on bass and Trey Pendergrass on drums, Walker proved that a good song can be interpreted by anyone (but it helps to have pipes like his and a crack band).

“I think ‘Cuz I Love You’ is about as close as you can get to a perfect pop record,” Walker said when he first released the song in June. “Lizzo’s probably the number one person I’d like to collaborate with. She’s the whole package.” Along with Lizzo, Walker covers Cher (“Believe”), Q Lazarus (“Goodbye Horses”), Dolly Parton (a fitting “Joshua”) and the Cranberries (“Linger,” with a cameo by Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass) on What Is It Even?

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Courtesy Sony Audio/Instagram

Variety hosted its seventh-annual “Hitmakers” event in Hollywood Dec. 2, playing host to some of the most celebrated names in 2023’s music scene. Among the attendees were Maren Morris, St. Vincent, Billie Eilish, Joan Baez, Olivia Rodrigo, boygenius and other prominent figures.

Morris, who was recognized with the “Changemaker Award,” reflected upon a “liberating phase” of her life and acknowledged a “deeply fractured,” misogynistic industry.

“If you dare criticize blatant misogyny, racism, transphobia within the ranks of your industry, you’re met with isolation, death threats, labeled as ungrateful, biting the hand that fed you,” Morris said. “Or diminishingly told to just shut up and sing.”

She went on to reference other impactful artists who courageously took action toward bettering society, like Sinead O’Connor, Billie Holiday, Taylor Swift and the Chicks, all of whom suffered backlash when they asserted themselves into controversial areas.

In the moments of “backlash,” Morris said she found solace in the stories of these “brave” musical heroines. “They were massive pains in the ass,” Morris said. “It was then I realized you have to be a giant pain in the ass to make any kind of change because you’re criticizing and trying to dismantle a status quo and making comfortable people feel uncomfortable.”

Introduced by singer and songwriter Maggie Rogers, her colleague praised Morris for using her voice to uplift others. to fight for gender and racial equality, and to re-imagine traditionally exclusive spaces, “specifically in the world of country music.”

“She does it all with her head held high and with a sense of humor,” Rogers said. “Like when Tucker Carlson referred to her as a ‘lunatic country music person,’ she turned around and decided to name her fans ‘The Lunatics.’”

“If Maren is crazy,” Rogers added, “all I can say is, I hope I’m crazy, too.”

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It’s been a memorable year for Jake Worthington, capped off by winning Male Artist of the Year and Country Album of the Year at the Texas Country Music Awards, held Nov. 13 at the legendary Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. Worthington’s self-titled debut album, released earlier this year on Big Loud Records, has been described by one critic as “gorgeous beer-joint purism.”

“I believe in country music with all my heart,” Worthington, a La Porte native and former contestant on The Voice, said in accepting his wins. “It’s about the only thing that ever made any sense to me. Walking through Billy Bob’s today, there’s so many people here I’ve been inspired by. Here’s to the honky-tonker, here’s to the believer in country music, and here’s to every single one of us here tonight.”

Adding to the evening, Worthington’s steel guitar player, Adam Goodale, also took home the win for Steel Guitar Player of the Year.

Worthington’s newest accolades build on his year of career milestones, including his Grand Ole Opry debut in Nashville and first-ever performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, opening for CMA Entertainer of the Year Lainey Wilson. Rounding out the year will be performing dates with Wilson and Randall King, and opening at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Dec. 14.

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Just two days before his death in a plane crash in 1959, Buddy Holly and a bill of rock ’n’ roll greats played a Winter Dance Party show in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A poster for that fateful show, the last for which a poster was printed, has just sold for $250,000. The sale was conducted by Heritage Auctions in Dallas.

The poster, becomes the third most valuable poster concert ever sold, after another poster from Holly’s final tour — for the show Holly was heading to — that went for $447,000 in November 2022, and a $275,000 poster for The Beatles’ 1965 Shea Stadium show.

Holly’s final tour was a rushed affair, comprising 24 dates in 24 days. Long coach journeys through the freezing Midwest made the musicians unhappy and often unwell. The story of the crash is heavy with tragic details. Stars Richie Valens and J.P Richardson, known as the Big Bopper, also died alongside pilot Roger Peterson.

“A quarter-million dollars is such rarified air, but this poster deserved it,” said Pete Howard, Heritage’s director of concert posters. The poster was the best-performing item in an auction full of standout artifacts, including items associated with the Grateful Dead (a poster for $93,750), the Beatles (a signed album cover for $40,000) and Prince (a copy of the Black Album for $25,000).

Holly is a foundational figure in rock ’n’ roll, not least of all in the story of the Beatles, who covered his work in their early recordings. The tragedy of his death adds poignancy and value to items from this final tour.

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Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall (Courtesy Miranda Lambert)

Longtime collaborators Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall have announced the formation of Big Loud Texas, a partnership between themselves and the Nashville-based label Big Loud Records.

Lambert and Randall will be directly involved in signing and developing artists on the roster. Randall will also serve as president of A&R for Big Loud Texas and contribute as a producer.

“Every time I’m back home, I get to hear the incredible talent our state produces,” Lambert, a native of Lindale, shared via social media, “and I feel a responsibility to help get more of those Texas voices heard. Get ready, y’all — we’re bringing even more Texas to town.”

In March, Lambert announced she was leaving Sony Music Nashville, where she was signed for most of her two-decades-long career.

“Since I was 19 years old, Sony has been my home in Nashville,” Lambert noted. “Over the last 20 years together, we’ve released albums that allowed me to share my story with the world, and we’ve reached heights I’d never dreamed were possible. Yet I wouldn’t be true to myself if I wasn’t constantly looking for the next challenge and a new way to stretch my creativity.”

Her label partner, Randall, has three decades of history in the music industry, working with Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and more, including Lambert’s 2021 Grammy-nominated album The Marfa Tapes and 2022 album Palomino.

Cover photo courtesy Sony Hall