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Top Five Worst Christmas Songs

November 30, 2009

‘Tis the season for holiday lights, good cheer, and Christmas songs that add a festive spirit to the season. Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, “Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,”– oh, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

But alas, not every Christmas song is of the holly jolly and joy to the world variety. Over time, the season has provided opportunity for artists and bands to produce some regretable clunkers as well as some absolutely awful pieces of work.  I feel certain each song was written with good intent, yet this category of failed songs induces reactions similar to what one might get from eating a handful of holly berries.

In honor of those who attempted to capture the spirit of the season, yet faced the dilemma of being planted into a sea of Charlie Brown Christmas trees pre-transformation,  I present the top five worst Christmas songs.

5. Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid: “Blasphemy!” you scream.  “How dare you put such a well intentioned song in a worst of list? With a lineup like that one, how could you possibly say this song deserves to be on such a list?” Easy. Lyrically, it’s awful. And depressing. Should Christmas songs really contain the words, “world of dread and fear,” “bitter sting of tears,” “clanging chimes of doom,” and “nothing ever grows?” Add to that Bono’s over-the-top vocal: “Well, tonight–thank God–it’s them instead of you,” implying that hey, if someone’s gotta suffer, better they than you . . . and you have the makings of a downer holiday song. Consider this–they invited Boy George to sing. That alone earns a demerit.  Musically, the song is  uninteresting as can be, with a monotonous, synthesized groove providing most of the instrumental melody. And the message? We get it. There won’t be snow in Africa and people will starve to death while the rest of us eat our holiday dinners. Thanks for the reminder, Merry Christmas to you, too. For those of you who have secretly hated this song, come forth. It’s okay; you are not alone! There are more of us out here.

4. Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney: You know from the first keyboard notes that this song is, at the very least, going to be irritating. By the end of the song, you’re left wondering how the man who wrote Let It Be could come up with something this insipid (until you listen to half of the Wings catalog, then it’s not much of a surprise). Like the song in the number five slot, there’s hardly anything going on that’s close to musically interesting. All we are given is a holiday jingle and a repetitive keyboard, with some elementary synthesizer work threaded throughout. This isn’t just minimalist, it’s just bad. That could’ve been forgiven had it not been for the cringe-worthy cheesiness of Sir Paul’s vocals, not to mention some of the most uninspired lyrics he’s ever written. You can almost see his head bopping up and down, emphasizing the refrain’s tintinnabulation. “Ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong.” Yep, that sounds about right as the most brilliant lyric he could come up with–or maybe his lyrics were simply echoing Linda McCartney’s equally brilliant keyboard work. Keep having that wonderful Christmas time, Paul. I’m changing the station.

3. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Elmo and Patsy: Obviously written before the advent of strict lyrics alcohol policies, this is the pathetic tale of a grandmother who had a little too much to drink, decided to hoof it home to get her meds, and fell victim to Santa’s way-too-low-flying reindeer. In the vein of the dysfunctional family,  the song makes it clear that grandma isn’t really missed at all. Grandpa is too busy watching football and playing cards to really notice her absence, and the rest of the family wonders what to do with grandma’s gifts (it’s never explained if these are the gifts that she bought or the ones they bought her; either way, that dilemma is the only realistic aspect of this song I can find). For some unfathomable reason, radio stations have taken a liking to this cute little tune, playing it incessantly during the holiday season. I just wish grandma had gotten run over at Halloween, so we all could have avoided this travesty of a Christmas song.

2. Dominic The Italian Christmas Donkey – Lou Monte: Had this song been written a year or two ago, I’m sure some Italian group would have protested . . . but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not the portrayal of Italians that makes this song come off so badly–the musical composition itself does a wonderful job of that.  The stereotypic music sounds like it came straight out of a pizzeria in Rome, and what do the lyrics proffer but  Rudolph’s potential replacement: a donkey. Not just any old donkey, but an Italian Christmas donkey. He doesn’t have a glowing red nose to light the way, but he could do something that Santa’s reindeer couldn’t.  He can climb the hills of Italy! He dances while the kids clap their hands and he even understands Italian! Pretty neat trick, very annoying song. I hear Homer Simpson’s “D’OH!” every time I hear chingety ching and that la la la refrain. Like the ode to Grandma’s untimely, yet not so tragic end, this song is overplayed across America, way past ad nauseum. As bad as this song is, nothing gets me running to turn the radio station faster than . . .

1. Christmas Shoes – Newsong: Let’s get this out of the way: the destroyer of holiday cheer known as “Christmas Shoes” is the worst, most vile and awful atrocity ever to ride the radio waves, regardless of the season. Combine the other four songs on this list, multiply it by ten, and you still don’t have something half as bad. The sounds of screwdrivers being jammed into my ears might be more pleasant (and less painful).  Had Marconi and Edison known in advance that this song would one day be played on their inventions, both men probably wouldn’t have even bothered. Told from a stranger’s point of view, “Christmas Shoes” is the story of a poor boy looking to buy his sick and rapidly dying mother shoes on Christmas Eve, so mom can look her very best for Jesus. The stranger has his own personal epiphany, discovering the true meaning of Christmas just by helping the boy pay for his near-dead mother’s shoes. From the first note to the last, this fun for the whole family song hits every conceivable level of wrong , laying waste to all things happy along the way. Since we’re told that you can’t take it with you, should buying your terminally ill mother a pair of shoes be that high on the priority list?  Does the boy even make it back in time? Where’s the irresponsible father in all of this? Dead or skipped out? Who will take care of the boy after mom’s demise? How scarred will he be?  Not nearly as scarred as the rest of us for having listened. Mercifully, this abomination comes to an end, but not soon enough–because within the song’s beginning bars, we are reminded not only of our own mortality, we get saturated in abandonment issues.  Did someone put “depression” on Santa’s Christmas list? Ho, ho, ho!! Pass the Prozac, please.

  1. November 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I’m probably way out of line here, but frankly, much as I hated “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” when I was a kid, it kind of makes me smile now…

    • Ani
      November 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

      You are not out of line at all! The song was composed to do just that–make you smile. Someone out there likes hearing about Grandma’s untimely demise–or it wouldn’t get aired so often. Feel free to share what song(s) you look forward to hearing or any that make you run to change the dial. We’d love to make a list of songs submitted by readers. And – btw – Enjoy the Season. We appreciate your spending some time with us here at CarolinaLifestyles.

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