I like Christmas music. I grew up listening to a lot of it and it always brings back great memories.
Well, not all of it brings great memories. Like everyone else, I have my favorites…and I have my unfavorites–the ones that get on my last nerve, the ones that I switch stations to avoid.
Rather than just creating another list of “Worst Christmas Songs Ever” (there are plenty of those already), I established more specific categories. Of course, my winners won’t be exactly like yours–you may love some of the ones I despise and vice versa. That’s okay. We don’t have to have the same tastes–that’s why there’s so much variety in Christmas songs, Christmas celebrations, and Christmas presents. And why they still make fruitcakes.
CATEGORY: WORST LINE IN A CHRISTMAS SONG
Winner: Do They Know It’s Christmas (Bob Geldof/BandAid; 1982)
Not the worst Christmas song in the world, but one particular line makes me cringe:
“And the Christmas bells that ring there / Are the clanging chimes of doom / Well, tonight, thank God, it’s them / Instead of you.
“Aren’t you glad it’s them instead of you?’ Well, no; I’m not glad. It shouldn’t be anybody.
And hey–even Bob Geldof himself says it’s the worst song in the world!
RUNNER-UP: Too many to list them all, but “curly-haired dolls that toodle and coo” from the Jackson 5’s 1975 version of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town is a contender. Not unless they’re all British dolls, Michael–otherwise they “toddle.”
CATEGORY: CHRISTMAS SONG THAT’S NOT REALLY A CHRISTMAS SONG
Winner: A Christmas to Remember (Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers; 1984)
This isn’t a Christmas song at all–it’s a song describing a fling between two people who just happened to hook-up at Christmas. Honestly, Dolly, you can do better than this. Just stick to Hard Candy Christmas and Ding-A-Ling The Christmas Bell. Those, at least, are worthy to be called Christmas songs. Here’s the video, complete with creepy mannequins and *skin tight* ski pants.
RUNNER-UP: Mistletoe (Colbie Caillat). Perhaps Misanthrope would be a better title?
CATEGORY: MOST IRRITATING CHRISTMAS ANIMAL
Winner: Dominick The Italian Christmas Donkey (Lou Monte; 1960)
Supposedly there are Italian families…somewhere…to whom this song is a charming Christmas tradition. I’ve never even heard it all the way through–the local DJs always turn it off after the first few horrid chingedy-ching-hee-haw-hee-haws.
- It’s Dominick the donkey. / Chingedy ching / (hee-haw, hee-haw) / The Italian Christmas donkey. / (la la la-la la-la la la la la) / (la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da). Hear it for yourself here. Or part of it, anyway, before you have to turn it off, too!
MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS ANIMAL IN A SONG: Carrying The Lord To Jerusalem/Little White Donkey (Ed Ames). Here’s a clip from the album Christmas Is The Warmest Time of The Year. Or maybe The Ballad of The Christmas Donkey, also by Mr. Ames.
CATEGORY: MOST BLAH CHRISTMAS SONG
Winner: Where Are You Christmas? (Faith Hill; 2000)
This is not a horrible song, but it’s all over the place–where are you, Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Whoops–there you are, you little rascal! You get right back there in my heart!
The worst thing about this song is the fact that it came from the movie Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. What a horrid idea, to make a live-action version of the classic book/animated special. Dr. Seuss, Boris Karloff, and Thurl Ravenscroft (that’s right, the deep voice of ‘Tony The Tiger’) are all spinning in their graves over THAT travesty.
MY PICK: For least blah Christmas song? Probably Mr. Grinch, performed by Thurl Ravenscroft. Nothing blah about THESE lyrics!
CATEGORY: WORST COVER OF A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC
Winner: Santa Baby (Madonna; 1987)
If you’re going to cover a classic, you have to do it as well as the original, or so differently that they’re not really comparable. In her tawdry version of Eartha Kitt’s sultry-but-savvy pleas to Santa, Madonna fails utterly to do anything but embarrass herself. Taylor Swift’s version is also awful, but in a much more bland and banal way…pretty much like Ms. Swift herself.
MY PICK: White Christmas (The Drifters). So different than Bing Crosby’s iconic version that they can be friends. And though it’s heretical to some people, I actually prefer The Drifters’ version!
CATEGORY: WORST CHRISTMAS SONG OF ALL TIME
Winner: The Christmas Shoes (NewSong; 2000)
Undeniably the worst Christmas song ever. “Cloying and manipulative” are two of the kinder words used to describe it on many sites; I’d add maudlin and misbegotten, just to round out the alliterative ‘m’ sounds.
How do I hate this song? Let me list the ways: the lead vocalist sort of groans out the lyrics as if he’s in pain; the music sounds like a poor quality karaoke track; the premise of the song is ridiculous–and worst of all, the rhyme scheme is askew and none of the words match up quite right. As Mike Myers said in View From The Top, they “put the wrong emPHASis on the wrong sylLAble.”
RUNNER-UP: there is no runner-up. No Christmas song is worse than this one. Here it is, along with scenes from the movie (yes, they made a movie) with Rob Lowe.
CATEGORY: CHRISTMAS SONG MOST LIKELY TO MAKE ME CRY
Winner: Christmas In Dixie (Alabama). Hands-down, this is it. Doesn’t matter where I am when I hear it, it makes me a little teary-eyed. And if I happen to be away from home when I hear it, go ahead and hand me the Kleenex…*sniff*
Check out Randy Owen and the boys singing it live.
RUNNER-UP: We’re On the Island of Misfit Toys (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer; 1964). I always thought the “misfit” toys were way more interesting than regular ones…*sniff.* Judge for yourself.
CATEGORY: CHRISTMAS SONG MOST LIKELY TO MAKE ME LAUGH
WINNER: The Twelve Gifts of Christmas (Allan Sherman; 1963 ). If you didn’t grow up laughing over this version, I hope you’ll catch up with it here and now!
RUNNER-UP: Blue Christmas (Porky Pig; circa 1999). ‘Nuff said.
CATEGORY: CHRISTMAS SONG MOST LIKELY TO MAKE ME SING OUT LOUD
WINNER: Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano; 1970). Love it or hate it; everyone seems to take sides on this one. I like to croon Feliz Navidad along with Señor Feliciano during the Christmas season for this reason: I remember watching him do the song on a holiday episode of American Bandstand when I was about six and my sisters and I sang it–with great gusto and without stopping–until we drove everyone mad. Ah, the memories! Go on–crank up the Christmas karaoke and belt it out!
RUNNER-UP: Snoopy’s Christmas (The Royal Guardsmen; 1967). I still have the 45 of this record, I know all the words…why not sing along with it? Check out TRG’s classic performance on “The Michael Douglas Show.”