With the Christmas season comes the inevitable influx of Christmas songs. And while there are many musical mainstays that persist in holding a warm place in our hearts, there are always a few seasonal tunes that are, for lack of a better phrase, sheer audio garbage.
While we all have our personal favorites when it comes to the list of “Worst Christmas Songs,” these are my personal submissions for the top ten. They are rated on a scale of catchiness, lyrical ingenuity, cultural context, and how much they make me scream.
Please enjoy, and maybe even listen to one or two (if only to remind yourself why you shouldn’t listen to one or two):
10. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid
This song wouldn’t be nearly as bad if the lyrics weren’t so utterly condescending. The song was performed by supergroup Band Aid, which was comprised of influential British and Irish recording artists, and was intended to raise money to contribute to famine aid in Ethiopia. While the song definitely succeeded in raising money, lyrics such as “there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time” (is there ever??) play into the shallowest stereotypes of Africa, while simultaneously managing to be patronizing.
9. “Hey Santa!” by Carnie and Wendy Wilson
Brian Wilson may be one of my favorite musicians of all time, but that doesn’t mean that his daughters are exempt from my vitriol. As the title implies, this song basically just amounts to several girls just calling out “Hey, Santa!” over and over, and the creepy children’s choir intro isn’t helping matters. Guys, have you ever stopped to think that Santa is ignoring you because he wants you to stop singing this grating song at him?
8. “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano
I know. I know. This song may seem like a holiday mainstay for many, but that’s only because your ears have been assailed for so long that it basically sounds like inoffensive buzzing. Think about: the lyrics are just “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas” in Spanish, and then “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart” in English. THAT IS LITERALLY ALL THIS SONG IS. IT’S LIKE AN ANNOYING COMMERCIAL JINGLE THAT NEVER ENDS.
7. “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” by Gayla Peevey
While it may seem uncouth to add any novelty Christmas songs to this list, this song absolutely deserves a place. While its absurdity is somewhat endearing (as is its appeal to children), there is only so much of Gayla Peevey’s voice that any of us can take — and this song exceeds that limit by about two minutes.
6. “The Chipmunk Song” by Alvin & The Chipmunks
My same complaints for “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” go doubly for “The Chipmunk Song.” Sure, it’s great for kids, but you know what? That’s because kids don’t know any better. When Alvin forgets his part of the verse the first time, it’s sort of funny — but after that, I’m done with the squeaky, high-pitched crooning, and part of me wishes that David Seville would back up his yelling with some actual chipmunk ass-kicking.
5. “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” by Spike Jones
I’m beating a dead horse here, but, suffice it to say: stop making Christmas songs (novelty or otherwise) with squeaky, unbearable singers. Please. My bleeding ears beg of you.
4. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney
I feel like Paul McCartney stumbled upon a Casio recorder, the two engaged in a brief and ill-advised affair, and this song is the abominable offspring which resulted from their union. Never mind the fact that the lyrics for the chorus probably took all of thirty seconds to write. (Seriously — who thinks “Simply having a wonderful Christmastime” is an acceptable hook?)
3. “Last Christmas” by Wham!
I can’t even fully express to you how angry I get when I hear this song playing over the loud speakers in various retail outlets. I’m not sure what it is — perhaps its the perturbing softness of George Michael’s crooning? Perhaps it’s the fact that the song is so saccharine that it actually induces vomiting? Or maybe it’s just the fact that the chorus doesn’t even make an EFFORT to rhyme in the correct places! Who knows? The only thing I know for sure is that, whenever I hear this song, I find myself actively rooting for the Christmas heartbreaker.
2. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy
Hey, you know what’s funny? Pretty much anything other than old people dying.
1. “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong
Okay. This is a song where some guy sees a little boy waiting in line to buy some shoes for his dying mother, because he wants her to look beautiful in case she “sees Jesus tonight.” The man appeases his own guilty conscience by buying the shoes for the little kid, who thanks him and then scampers off to watch his mom die, presumably. I have several issues with this song: first, it’s so blatantly sappy that I’m almost insulted. Second, I think we can all agree that this little kid is absolutely a Christmas grifter who is playing this guy, and will inevitably re-sell the shoes for twice their original value. Lastly, this guy is basically singing a song to celebrate what a wonderful person he is. Congratulations, you bought a pair of women’s shoes for a (criminal mastermind) little boy, and now you’re gloriously patting yourself on the back for it!
This song needs to die a quick and shoe-less death.
Here’s the full playlist, if you want to excruciate your holiday guests: