Just the other day on this blog, Will listed his “Unarguable” Top Ten List of the Best Christmas Songs of All TIme.

He’s wrong. They mostly suck. So I’m arguing.

So. With some overlap with Will’s list (see especially 9 and 7, corresponding to 4 and 10 on his list, plus a couple honorable mentions), here is my Definitive List of the Worst Ten Christmas Songs of All TIme.

These are my rules:

  1. They have to be songs I know and hear regularly during the Christmas season. I mean, there are always going to be things like Please, Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas, but I didn’t know that existed until today when I told my dad I was writing this post.
  2. Unlike Will, I’m not necessarily choosing particular renditions of these songs. None of these are redeemable by anyone. They just stink.

10. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Possibly this one would bother me less had I been raised with Santa Claus being part of my Christmas, but as it is it makes me deeply uncomfortable. “He sees you when you’re sleeping / he knows when you’re awake.” Ack. No. Go away!

Also, since when does merely crying put you on the naughty list? That seems a bit unfair. Sometimes Christmas is sad.

9. Merry Christmas Baby

There’s barely a complete thought in the whole song. “Merry Christmas baby / Sure did treat me nice” is essentially the whole song. “I got music on my radio / Feel my vibe” Huh. Obviously not good music.

Also, to respond specifically to Will’s list, Hanson is the worst kind of 90s boy band: no interesting harmony and an awful whiny tone quality.

8. A Marshmallow World

This isn’t even properly a Christmas song. It celebrates snow, which is dumb enough—no one actually likes snow and if you think you do you’re deceiving yourself—but then it gets both sappy and weird. “The world is your snowball, just for a song. Get out and roll it along.” What? The world certainly is not my snowball, whatever that means. Neither is it a “yum yummy world made for sweethearts.”

7. Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Okay, seriously? Date rape. This song is about date rape. Will’s defense of it is that he interprets the female side as simply flirtatious, but “say, what’s in this drink?” is just too hard to get past for me. It’s icky and everyone and their brother does a cover of it.

Also, Will, Jessica Simpson’s horrible breathy voice makes my skin crawl.

6. Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Yes. Yes they do. Need I say more?

5. Jingle Bell Rock

Even the unrocked Jingle Bells stinks (see especially this version.) In this mysteriously ubiquitous song (seriously, just count the number of times you hear this song in an average December week) all they’ve done is pick up the tempo and announce that it rocks. This does not remedy the stinking. In fact, it has the opposite effect.

4. Feliz Navidad

There is not a single interesting thing about this song—and yet this is another one where if you start counting how many times you hear it in December you would hit double digits in the first week. No harmony, a boring tune, and literally one sentiment repeated over and over and over ad nauseum: Merry Christmas. That’s it. Seriously. You’d like to think there’s at least a little more to it, but you’d be disappointed.

3. Santa Baby

Practically everyone I know and lots of people I don’t complain regularly about the materialism of the holiday season. It’s all about Jesus! they insist. Or, at least, Family and Friends and Being Nice and Stuff! Noble sentiments worth promoting.

And then there’s this bafflingly popular song with these lyrics:

Santa baby, I want a yacht and really that’s not a lot;
Been an angel all year; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

It’s like the retailers of the world all got together, wrote a song about everything they want us to feel at Christmastime, and have now have everyone (excluding me and whoever else hates this song as much as I do) bamboozled into thinking that this song is actually a worthwhile thing that should be connected with happy Christmas feelings.

2. The Christmas Shoes

Everyone feels suffocated with sentimentality when they hear this one, right? Good. I thought so. It’s the very height of awful Christmas sappiness. It doesn’t add to anyone’s Christmas cheer but it doesn’t bother having a remotely deep thought, either.

And the number one worst ever Christmas song is . . .

(drum roll, please)

1. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Even putting aside how incredibly annoying this song is for a moment (oh wait. Can’t. It’s already stuck in all of your heads.) it is just plain confusing. What the heck are “incriminatin’ Claus marks,” for starters? Secondly, there are decidedly mixed messages about whether or not anyone cares that Grandma is dead. They begged her not to go, and they’re all wearing black, but Grandpa is drinking beer and playing cards mere hours after his wife’s corpse was found in the snow. Also, what kind of family doesn’t go looking for Grandma when she doesn’t come back alone on a snowy night? Why didn’t Grandpa, at the very least, realize Grandma was dead until the next morning? Why is there a verse about Grandma’s wig? So many questions.

Honorable mentions:

Christmas Don’t Be Late
Under My Tree
Wonderful Christmastime
Sleigh Ride
So This Is Christmas
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Little Drummer Boy
Mary, Did You Know?

(I could go on with honorable mentions quite a while longer, but I’ll stop here so as not to seem too grinchy.)


  1. Avatar

    I do love Christmas music, but I agree with you on all of these — especially 8, 7, 3, and 1. Those are THE WORST.

  2. Elaine

    This was totally what my post was supposed to be except I got distracted by all the other parts of Christmas that I hate. SPLEEN!!!

  3. Avatar

    As your sister, I feel as though it is my duty to point out that you, in fact, owned the Hanson Christmas album.

    • Avatar

      We all make mistakes in our youth.

      • Avatar

        RED. HANDED.

        • Avatar

          Notice the verb tense. I was about 10. Fortunately I’ve grown beyond that phase.

          • Avatar

            I like you guys a lot

  4. Will

    1. Couldn’t agree more about “Feliz Navidad.”
    2. Might I suggest the inclusion of “Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiin Christmas Song)??”
    3. Are “Mary, Did You Know” and “Little Drummer Boy” in reference to the Pentatonix?!
    4. Hanson was BEST boy band! They played their own instruments and wrote their own songs — sometimes to hilariously bad effect. Still, this makes them better than every other 90s boy band, hands down! On top of that, their later albums are legitimately awesome. Check out that links I shared on my article. And you can’t tell me you don’t groove to “Merry Christmas Baby.” You CANNOT!
    5. This is my last ditch effort to defend my inclusion of a “date rape” song: roofies appeared on the scene in 1975. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written in 1944. To say that the dude drugged her is revisionist history at its most ridiculous. We have no reason to believe that the girl is not standing at the door, willingly staying inside while she debates whether or not to leave. We’re assuming the most sinister intentions with this man, when it could be he’s just got a smooth tongue!
    6. You have been an honorable opponent. I look forward to a time when we can go mano-a-mano again.

    • Abby Zwart

      Okay, THANK YOU WILL. I’m no huge fan of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” There are better songs. BUT. The date rape argument is completely ridiculous. “Say,” is just a 1944 way of saying “Wow!” She liked the drink, okay? The guy makes a mean Manhattan or something! She loves it! She wants to know how to make one for herself!
      Here. Go listen to this Jonny Mercer version, you grumpy anachronism inserters! She does the line exactly right — flirty and appreciative of his bartending skillz. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7jzsKd6Cf8

    • Avatar

      2. Oh, good call. That one’s not part of my Christmas consciousness enough to have made the list, but it certainly deserves it.
      3. Yes. ugh.
      4. I really, truly don’t groove to “Merry Christmas Baby”. It makes me cringe.
      5. okay. fair. still makes me uncomfortable.
      6. Thank you. This was fun.

  5. Avatar

    You people are all terrible, and I love it.


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