Thanksgiving has come and gone as has "Black Friday" which retailers have been talking about this year like it's a real holiday. This can mean only one thing: we are all doomed to endure a month's worth of Christmas music. Now I am not a total scrooge. I will admit that I occasionally "need a little Christmas right this very minute" and might listen to a seasonal tune when I'm jonesing for a quick fix of holiday spirit. But we all must admit that a lot of these songs are down-right awful. And having to sit there as the radio stations replay the same catalog of tired tunes ad nauseum has made many the long holiday car ride ("from Atlantic to Pacific...") that much more unpleasant.
With this in mind, I figured I'd compile my own personal list of the 12 Worst Christmas Songs (because who doesn't like a countdown?). For each offender we'll discuss just what makes it such a clunker, before rendering a final judgment as to whether it's "awesomely bad" or just plain bad.
* The Kinks - Father Christmas
Ok, so this first track is sort of an anti-Christmas song, and it's actually kind of good, but I wanted to discuss it anyway. The narrator in this punk rock ballad tells how the last time he dressed up as Father Christmas outside a department store he was mugged by a band of pint-sized hooligans who shouted "Father Christmas, give us some money/ Don't mess around with those silly toys." Later on they sing "give daddy a job cus he needs one." Not only is this song somewhat funny, but it also just about manages to tackle the whole "remember those who are less fortunate during the holidays" schtick without being sappy. Too bad they almost never play it on the radio. Here's a (sadly poor quality) youtube video...
FINAL JUDGMENT: Not bad
12. Beach Boys - Little Saint Nick
You wouldn't think this song would be so bad. It features characteristic Beach Boys' harmony and a little bit of rock n roll flavor. But something about the oft repeated line "it's the little saint nick" just really annoys me: it's a little too cutesy for my taste, and what's with the superfluous use of the definitive article?
FINAL JUDGMENT: Not the worst song (whatever, we're only on #12. They get a lot worse).
11. Benny Grunch - The 12 Yats of Christmas
You've probably only heard this novelty take on the Twelve Days of Christmas if you've lived in southeast Louisiana. As a New Orleans diasporean I can appreciate this on a nostalgia level, but it's unfortunate that they've decided to record it using various "comical" yatty voices. Also, they really lay on those references to local culture pretty thick. The 12 days of Christmas are represented by "12 Manuel's Tamales/ 11 Schwegmann bags/ the Tenneco Chalmette Refinery/ the Lower Ninth Ward/ Ate by ya mama's/ the 17th St. Canal/ a 6-pack of Dixie/ fried onion rings/ 'fore ya drive me nuts/ 3 french breads/ a Tujague's recipe/ and the crawfish they caught in Arabi." Here's a video of the song I found on youtube...
FINAL JUDGMENT: Sort of cute the first time you hear it but gets old fast
IRREVERENT ONE LINER: Oh! Right in the Tenneco Chalmette Refinery!
10. Do You Hear What I Hear?
In my opinion, the "sacred" Christmas songs are usually less objectionable than the popular ones. But this song is an exception. First of all, it starts off with "said the night wind to the little lamb..." The wind's talking to a baby lamb?! I don't know, it's just a little too "Bambi" for me. Also, in my brain this song will forever be associated with the scene in the Gremlins where Mama dispatches of one of the little devils by throwing him in the food processor. Mmm, nothing says Christmas like a Gremlin smoothie!
9. Little Drummer Boy
Another song with a religious theme. This is a sort of exegesis on the Gospel story of the three kings who trekked across the desert bearing gifts for the newborn Jesus, only in this version the magi run into a little drummer boy who decides to tag along. Of course the humble scamp doesn't have any fancy gifts for the newborn king so he just rattles off a beat on his drum Nick Cannon-style. Hopefully, he didn't do this so loudly that it made the baby cry.
This song is annoying if only for that "pa-rumpa-pum-pum" nonsense which comes at the end of almost every single line!! Also, did they even have drummer boys in Roman Palestine? What the hell was this boy supposed to be doing with the drum? Helping to round up grazing sheep?
Of course the best version of this song is the bizarro duet between glam rocker, David Bowie, and that avuncular, child-abusing crooner, Bing Crosby.
FINAL JUDGMENT: Irritating.
8. My Grown Up Christmas List
I might never have noticed this bland, boring little number if not for the fact that, every time it comes on, my mom remarks about how much she likes it. Moments like this really make me wonder about her taste in music. Anyhow, in the song a woman reads off her "grown up Christmas list" to Santa. Now praying for peace on earth is commendable, but she goes on to wish that everyone should have a friend, love should last forever, and that good should always triumph. That's a pretty tall order for Santa there, missy. Maybe if our girl were a little more "grown up" she'd realize that these are pipe dreams. I think my grown up Christmas list would include troop withdrawal from Iraq, a better monetary policy, shutting down Guantanamo...
If you've never heard this song and you're curious here's a link to a performance by Kelly Clarkson, but it's a snooze fest I assure you.
FINAL JUDGMENT: Boring, stupid, bad.
7. NewSong - Christmas Shoes
This country ballad first came out in 2000. The narrator is some scrooge who is rushing around one night doing some last minute gift shopping when he comes across an adorable little street urchin who's trying to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother. Can you believe this crap?! When it is revealed that the moppet doesn't have enough change for the shoes, of course the narrator buys them for him.
They actually made an equally stupid TV movie based on the song starring Rob Lowe. The movie sounds SO awesomely bad: the scroogey main character is admonished for driving a foreign car and drinking cappuccino, and there's a subplot about farmers being pushed off their land by ecologist developers (!?). You know the people who wrote this crap voted for Bush the second time around.
FINAL JUDGMENT: Awesomely bad
6. Here's Come Santa Claus
5. Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer
This redneck jingle is as stupid as it is offensive. I'm also pretty sure it makes little children who lost their grandmothers cry. All that said, you might think this song is slighty amusing during the first 20 seconds of the first time you hear it, but after that it quickly grows irritating.
FINAL JUDGMENT: not as funny as it thinks it is, bad
4. Dear Mr. Jesus
FINAL JUDGMENT: Awesomely bad
3. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
Please just shoot me now! Of all the cutesy holiday songs delivered in saccharine kiddy voices this is the worst. Basically, a boy is going through that awkward stage of childhood where his baby teeth are falling out and his adult teeth are growing in. He's currently missing his two incisors and thus he speaks with a lisp. He wishes his teeth would grow in already. As if the kiddy voice, the lisp and the premise weren't bad enough the song suffers from "second verse same as the first syndrome".
FINAL JUDGMENT: Root canal bad
2. Chrissy the Christmas Mouse
So you might be all "say whaaa?" but I swear to god that I somehow end up hearing this song several times every holiday season. It is so stupid and annoying that it boggles the mind. The song begins "Chrissy, the Christmas Mouse / lives in the middle of Santa's house". Nuff said really. As if we didn't have enough cutesy Christmas critters what with Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the red-nosed Republican. Somehow Chrissy never got her own claymation cartoon though, huh? Fancy that.
FINAL JUDGMENT: Crime against humanity bad
1. Lou Monte - Dominick the Donkey
A favorite among Italian Americans despite the fact that it reinforces silly stereotypes, I defy you to listen to this song and not laugh. I would say that Dominick the Italian Christmas donkey kicks Chrissy's arse but (as the song tells us) this donkey never kicks. My favorite line is "When Santa visits his paesans with Dominick he'll be / because the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Italy." Here's a video I found on youtube:
FINAL JUDGMENT: Awesomely bad
So that's my countdown. Please share your thoughts on these songs and/or your own picks for worst holiday songs.
TONIGHT'S BEER OF CHOICE: Abita Christmas Ale