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:
- 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.
- Unlike Will, I’m not necessarily choosing particular renditions of these songs. None of these are redeemable by anyone. They just stink.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Yes. Yes they do. Need I say more?
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.
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.
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)
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.
(I could go on with honorable mentions quite a while longer, but I’ll stop here so as not to seem too grinchy.)
Laura (Bardolph) Hubers (’10) is wife to Matt, mother to Samuel, and copywriter at Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. She counts the day the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series as one of the happiest of her life.
Matt Hubers (’12) lives with his wife, Laura, and young son, Samuel. He likes to spend his time playing board games, coaching high school forensics, and frolicking with alpacas. His dream is to write picture books.