Stevie Wonder-India.Arie version of “The Christmas Song” first Grammy nominee to be recorded as a commercial:
- Executives at Target Corp. thought they were nailing a few firsts when they hired Stevie Wonder to record “The Christmas Song” for the retailer’s seasonal TV ads. But the notion that a Grammy nomination would come out of it was the furthest thing from their corporate minds.
Minneapolis-based Target was keen on promoting the fact that it had become the first company to license the “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” classic penned by Robert Wells and Mel Torme. It also turns out it’s the first time a recording financed for a commercial has been nominated for a Grammy.
….Target’s commercial featuring Wonder and India.Arie aired from mid-November up to Christmas, making television the one medium where the song was heard.
Work on it, however, began early in the year when Target struck a deal with the publishers. Wonder was brought on board, and he worked on an arrangement in the early summer, recording the song on the last day in July. The ad, designed by Peterson Milla Hooks, was shot at that time.
Arie added her vocals in August. Target struck a deal with Motown to include the tune and a song called “Butterfly” as bonus tracks on her “Voyage to India” album, released in late September. About 100,000 copies of “Voyage to India” with the bonus track were pressed for Target, the same number as had been done the year before on a Columbia Barbra Streisand disc.
….One other crazy caveat: once Target sells all its copies, no more with “The Christmas Song” will be printed. Should it take home the trophy Feb. 23, it could be the only recording among the winners that is already out of print — another first in Grammy lore. [Variety]