Call me crazy, but I really love Christmas music.
Don’t get me wrong; I can see why people wouldn’t like it, and they certainly aren’t unjustified. That shit starts as early as November, or even October in some cities. There’s no way to escape it until, if you’re unlucky enough, mid-January. And these gripes aren’t just petty nitpicking, they’re simple facts. And I certainly understand, most of all, the “it starts early” complaint, as it takes me a while to get in the festive mood. But the one reason that these don’t really bother me is that there’s a lot of really good Christmas music out there. It’s for that reason that, in addition to this lit, there’ll be a best of list from me too. However, one of the places where the complainers are justified in doing so: there’s a lot of really fucking bad Christmas songs out there too.
For a few years, I’d do a list of worst Christmas songs every year on my Facebook. My search for the absolute worst of the worst is a result of both morbid curiosity and inspiration. I am certain that a number of you reading this article are familiar with the podcast “RetroCRUSH”, who gained some infamy after his article absolutely slamming Paul McCartney’s aural abortion “Wonderful Christmastime“. He got a lot of heat for his comment about the really shitty keyboard sound, which described it as sounding like “kids with hooks for fingers and Parkinson’s disease slamming on some CASIO they found at a thrift store” (since then, he changed it to “some drunk with hammers for fingers… (the rest is the same minus the Parkinson’s comment)”). To follow that up, he made a podcast where he made a whole list of terrible Christmas songs, and it was one of the funniest things I’d ever heard. So every year I’d scour Google for some of the absolute worst of the worst there was to find, and after a break from doing it for a few years, and having a writing position with a Pop Culture website, I figured it’s time to make an official one. Some of these have made it from my previous list, others were found after going through hours of playlists on Spotify.
So, here are, without a doubt, my picks for the 10 absolute worst of the worst, truly awful garbage people will hear at Christmas, that you aren’t safe from, under any circumstances!
10. Jona Lewie, “Stop the Cavalry” (1982)
This is going to be a pretty controversial pick, no doubt about it. The first time I heard this song was at work about 3 years ago, just starting a shift on a cold December day, and I actually liked it. I’m not sure if that lent itself to the fact that it was in the background where I could only just hear it, but I remember its anti-war lyrics really catching my ear, and the desperate like “I wish I could be home for Christmas“, with the protagonist lamenting how being in the army at Christmas is really miserable. So last night, having not heard it for 3 years, I decided I’d give it another go, last night while making a Christmas playlist on Spotify (link at the bottom of the article).
Unfortunately, the magic didn’t continue- and I initially thought it was just that I hadn’t heard it in so long, so I thought I’d listen to it a couple more times to see if it would grow on me. Unfortunately, it didn’t. By the third time, I was in full-on “kill this motherfucker with fire” mode. I really hate it now, and I don’t know why. The “1980s puked on it” is definitely a key factor, but it’s more than that. It squanders its powerful message to no end and the “dumdumdumdum” bit is just unnecessary.
9. Straight No Chaser, “Who Spiked the Egg Nog?” (2009)
Here’s another one I’m pretty shocked about. I was sold on the title alone. This is, of course, despite the fact that I fucking hate the taste of Egg Nog. But none of that is an excuse for how awful this song really is. Maybe if it didn’t sound like an a capella cut too shitty to make it into the intro for a Glee episode, that could have saved it- but this whole thing is just a fucking clusterfuck of a tune that’s showy, gratuitious, and bafflingly, despite all this, more bland than green tea and rice together.
But the worst thing about this is just how safe it plays things for a song about somebody spiking the Egg Nog. Hasn’t the songwriter considered how much more fun the party would be? And it would have been much funnier if someone spiked it with, I dunno, some sort of psychedelic drug than just… rum. Yeah, there’s really no excuse for this one. It’s just awful. I’d be embarrassed to be caught listening to it by somebody else.
8. Cyndi Lauper, “Christmas Conga” (1998)
Can we all just agree that 1998 was a fucking dreadful year for music? I mean, there’s so many reasons I could try to cram into this article, but the whole year just ran on a complacent attitude as far as music went- however, it got downright awful at times, and I can’t think of any lower point than that of Cyndi Lauper’s clusterfuck of a Christmas tune.
Shockingly, there are Christmas songs WORSE than this. But it’s hard to imagine there being one because of just how awful this song is- it’s a confused pile of shit that runs on a boring electro beat with pseudo-mariachi in the background. Perhaps the worst thing about it shockingly isn’t the vomit-worthy refrain of “Bonga, bonga, bonga/Do the Christmas conga,” but the fact that it sounds like Cyndi singing along in some Florida hotel lobby to a drum machine. I can tell full production went into this- so why does it sound so, erm… complacent?
7. Smashing Pumpkins – “Christmastime” (1998)
Love him or hate him, there’s no denial that Billy Corgan is the voice of all your teen angst. He’s the one who sang ridiculous lines like “The world is a vampire, sent to drain” or “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage” and somehow made them sound believable. And despite all that, I do think he could craft a worthy Christmas tune. Hell, it doesn’t have to be traditional. Knowing the band he’s in, he could easily write a thought-provoking tune about the amount of suicides that happen every year among teens during the holiday season.
What did we get instead? …this. For a start, none of the other Pumpkins appear on this song. It’s just Billy and the most depressing orchestra ever trying to do a happy song. This song is the aural equivalent of suffocation by carbon monoxide. We believe Billy when he sings about wanting to throw himself off a fucking high rise. We DON’T believe him when he sings about watching the children playing beside the Christmas tree or, even worse, “toys for everyone.” Nobody buys happy and joyful Billy. I buy Iron Maiden singing fucking “All About That Bass” more than this. (shudder)
6. Band Aid – “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” (1985)
Let me start off by saying that I have never once liked this song. I get that it’s a charity tune, and believe me, I’ve never liked those either. They do have good intentions, but often come off as awful and overblown. Bob Geldof, the man who fucking wrote this tune, hates the fuck out of it, and it isn’t hard to see why. For a start, its extremely confused and boring tune. This song doesn’t make me picture Christmas, it makes me picture Alex DeLarge roaming London with his droogs and beating the shit out of bums.
Even worse, and surprisingly tasteless are the lyrics. “There won’t be snow in Africa” of course, IT’S TOO FUCKING CLOSE TO THE EQUATOR. And then there’s lines like “Tonight, thank god it’s them instead of you.” I’m not sure if that line was meant to be ironic or not but that’s pretty fucking tasteless when you’re singing about starving children in Africa and braying “Feed the World” over and over enough times for Krampus to invade your home.
5. NewSong – “The Christmas Shoes” (2002)
Yeah, admit it. You saw this one coming. It’s been on fucking every worst of Christmas list ever made, and it’s hard not to see why: it is fucking atrocious in almost every aspect. It’s so horrid, overwrought and made for the purpose of jerking tears that there may as well be signs popping up in front of you reading “TEAR JERKER COMING IN 5 SECONDS” while it litters your ears.
What can be said about the lyrics that haven’t already? So some guy is in a department store on Christmas Eve doing some last minute shopping and some little boy tries to con him into getting these shoes for his dying mum because he wants her to look beautiful for Jesus or some shit like this. Uhhh… so many things wrong with this. First off, why the FUCK aren’t you with your mum? And second, what’s going to happen to those shoes? Will she buried in them? Or will they be sold to someone else and her ghost will haunt them? Fuck that, why isn’t there some horror sequel to this song about a ghost who murders everyone who wear those shoes?
4. Cee Lo Green and Rod Stewart – “Merry Christmas, Baby” (2012)
Let me start off by saying that I fucking hate this song with every fibre of my being no matter who it’s recorded by. That being said, this is the absolute worst. You just know it’s gonna be a particularly shit cover when you see who is involved, but then you hear the thing… yeah. They have zero chemistry. And I’m almost at the point now where I want to throw my laptop at the wall, so neeeext.
3. N*SYNC – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” (2000)
My dad always told me that the best kinds of Christmas songs are the ones that can be heard on any occasion and sound fresh. A good example would be any song off of Roger Whittaker’s Christmas album- be it his golden voice or the lush orchestral arrangements, you’d have no idea it was recorded in the early eighties. Nothing is worse than a dated Christmas tune- though there are dated Christmas tunes that are great (“All I Want For Christmas is You” is WONDERFULLY dated, at least to me).
This is as early-2000s as it gets. You can smell the hair gel as you hear it. It’s absolutely not catchy at all. It’s boring and it’s ever so much a product of its time. Again, being dated isn’t always a bad thing, but when you consider that it didn’t take long for the boy band fad to die off after this, the song gets even worse.
2. Paul Di’Anno – Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1994)
I absolutely DREAD to think of what Iron Maiden would have become if Paul Di’Anno had stayed. One thing that’s obvious is that they wouldn’t be the stadium filling EPIC metal band they are, the band that made me write an article telling everyone why I love them or the band that inspired me to see them all over Europe multiple times. They’d be some shitty nostalgia act with 2/5 of the original lineup that can’t even fill a basement.
I like to take this cover of this classic as the best display of how it would sound if he stayed around. There is absolutely no justification for this slaughtering of a classic. His attempts to sound like Bruce Dickinson near the beginning are laughable at best and cringe worthy at worst. This cover makes me want to start smashing my Killers and Iron Maiden vinyl copies with a steel bat. It’s THAT bad.
1. PowerSource – “Dear Mr. Jesus” (1985)
Firstly, this isn’t even a Christmas song. It inexplicably gets a lot of play around that time of year, and I don’t know why, and given these circumstances, I would normally not include this song on the list, let alone put it at number one, so let me explain why this is on the list and worse than the 9 that came before it.
First off, this song is about child abuse. Now, such subject matter isn’t enough for me to hate it. I love a lot of songs that are about worse things like necrophilia and cannibalism. So why do I fucking hate this song so much? Because it’s so fucking heavy handed it can’t even get its own message right. Worse yet, it does two things I absolutely hate: the first being being emotionally manipulative and second, invoking something only to turn it around right at the very end to shock you.
This song was sung by a little girl named Sharon Batts and at the start of the song, she sings to Jesus telling you about a story she read in the news about a little girl whose parents constantly beat her to a bloody pulp. I’m trying hard to not outright plagiarize Todd in the Shadows here, and his video about Taylor Swift’s “Sixteen” where he rants about why stories aren’t sad when they’re told by someone else about someone else, but why should I care? She’s trying to make me feel worried cause she feels worried. That’s a complete failure on every level and the songwriter(s) should be ashamed of themselves.
Oh but that’s not the worst part. The worst part is one little line at the end: “And please don’t tell my daddy/but my mommy hits me too.”
NO. NOT COOL. FUCK YOU. FUCK, YOU. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. That is EXTREMELY poor taste. It’s exploitative and worse yet, you’re making this little girl do it! She goes about the whole song in this cutesy voice singing about how she’s terrified for this girl and then “oh by the way, I get beaten too! hehehehe!” It’s just sickening and it gets even worse when it’s followed by this upbeat crescendo and this adult belting out “Pleeease don’t let them hurt your children!” Ugh.
Well, that’s me done. My best of list should be here soon, and if you want to hear my list of ideal Holiday classics, simply click here, make sure you have Spotify installed, and enjoy!
Scott Baldwin likes cosplay, Doctor Who, heavy metal, Marvel Comics and Godzilla. He does not like long walks on the beach because his feet overheat quickly. He travels to europe far too much for his own good. He also regularly contributes to Sputnikmusic.