Señor Feliciano, you do not own Christmas

Even the Gringos know and love José Feliciano’s Christmas tune, which gets just as much love and radio air play as Frank Sinatra’s Let it Snow, and Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Feliz Navidad can be sung by old and young, Spanish speakers, and English speakers. The simple lyrics, a mix of the two languages, are easily remembered and repeated over and over:

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero Año y Felicidad.

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart.

-José Feliciano/Feliz Navidad

But despite Señor Feliciano’s success, and certain permanence, he’s feeling a bit insecure. The new kid on the block, Reggaeton star Tito El Bambino, has come out with his own Christmas song also called “Feliz Navidad”, and José Feliciano is not happy at all. When interviewed on El Gordo y La Flaca, Feliciano said:

“Why didn’t he do something original? I am not resentful but it’s a shame because I would never do this to another composer…it is not going to be as successful as mine because only I did it in Spanish and the melody is different. It’s not my fault that people copy me.”

He says he’s not resentful, but it’s obvious from what he’s said, that’s exactly what he is. If you have heard Tito El Bambino’s new song, you would know the songs are not similar at all. And, Señor Feliciano, I would like to remind you that you do not own Christmas or the common phrase, “Feliz Navidad”.

As for Tito El Bambino’s potential for success – saying that he won’t be as successful as you are, is egotistical, and quite possibly wrong. As is the case with fashion, language, and art, music is an ever-changing world where youth seek something new to make their own. Being so mean-spirited towards a young, well-respected Latino musician is a sure way to alienate yourself further from today’s youth. Had you embraced Tito El Bambino, perhaps suggested a duet, (as Madonna has cleverly done with Britney Spears for example), you would have solidified your reputation as King of Christmas, Rey de Navidad, passed the torch, and your song’s popularity ensured for generations to come. Instead, you decided to be bitter and now you will be remembered as a Grinch.

You had your time in the limelight, you don’t have to step off the stage completely, but you should at least be gracious enough to step aside and make room for others.


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